Features


Theater Review: Funny & Fabulous ‘Urinetown’ The Perfect Season Opener At Theater Barn

Published: September 13, 2018 at 12:00 am

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From left is Duane Lanham, Bill Warncke, Rachel Lewis and James Hobayan in a scene from the fabulous production of Urinetown currently on the boards at Ridgefield Theater Barn.
—Paulette Layton photo

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Audience members feel like they’ve stepped into Urinetown during intermission. Avery Silburn is shown attending one of the theater barn’s restrooms during a recent performance.
—Pamme Jones photo

RIDGEFIELD — There is a revolt under way at the Ridgefield Theater Barn, and it is not to be missed. Get your tickets right this instant for what is a brilliant season opener in Urinetown.

This fabulous and funny satirical musical comedy, under the direction of Debra Lee Failla, is about as much fun as can be had at the always entertaining Barn. Performances opened September 6 and continue weekends through September 28.

Written by Mark Holloman and Greg Kotis, Urinetown offers broad comedy regarding strict regulation of excretory bodily functions. Under the control of corporate America and corrupt politicians, the poorest of this unfortunate population are suffering from a drought and must pay to pee.

Failure to comply with the rules, which require that citizens hold it until you can afford it, will result in exile to Urinetown, a scary and ambiguous threat. While this premise sounds, and hopefully is, ridiculously silly, the music and dialogue offer much room for campy performances that are as madcap as they are sincere.

Also choreographed by Ms Failla, the musical numbers are well-served by the energetic and boisterous efforts of an astounding cast of 16. Every performer is superb, and they include Leslie Allen, Shawn Tyler Allen, Stephen Emerick, Brendan Garnett, James Hobayan, Samantha Holomakoff, Rachel Lewis, Rachel Lotstein and Bill Warnke. The director-choreographer has been richly rewarded with astonishing talent which she has directed to perfection.

The comedic timing of every player is remarkable, making the slapstick nature of this piece all the more amusing. The entire ensemble works like a well-oiled machine, and each performer is a standout in their own right. There are no small parts in this play; each role is demanding.

Musical Director Lisa Riggs Hobbs creates magic with her five-piece onstage orchestra. The music is well-engineered for the small space. Singers were heard, and dancers kept time.

Playing the leading man, Bobby Strong, Chris Balestriere is remarkable in every way. He and his love interest, Hope Cladwell (Meaghan Elliot), are star-crossed lovers who are easily distracted and confused. Together, they are absolutely hilarious, and Ms Elliot sings like an angel.

Heartless and stern, the gatekeeper at the local pay-to-pee station, Miss Pennywise, is played by Elyse Jasensky, who also has an excellent set of pipes, along with superb comedic chops. Jasensky has played this role elsewhere, and it is blatantly obvious why she returns to it again and again.

Officer Lockstock and his sidekick Officer Barrel are played by Michael Valinoti and Joe Caputo, respectively. They are a hoot as they try to police this debacle.

Mr Valinoti is also the narrator. He is kept up-to-date and in touch by Little Sally (Monica Harrington). These two keep the antics going throughout, and both are terrific talents.

Playing the selfish and greedy Caldwell B. Cladwell is the always outrageously jocular Duane Lanham. His rendition of “Don’t Be the Bunny” lays the groundwork for the ultimate showdown.

Set designer Pamme Jones created a space which shifts easily from scene to scene while creating an atmosphere of poverty and depression, which is furthered by the efforts of lighting designer Mark Hankla. The set itself is remarkable for the levels and space it allows for the large dance numbers, locations, and movement. Well done!

Be sure to go before you leave home and get to Ridgefield Theater Barn immediately, where they will share their Tinkle Tonic and laugh the evening away at this ludicrous and side-splitting production of Urinetown.

Ridgefield Theater Barn is at 31 Halpin Lane in Ridgefield. Reservations and additional information are available by calling 203-431-9850 or visiting ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org.

 

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This Week's Poll

Newtown Cultural Arts Commission is presenting or coordinating on six weeks of special events. Which event are you looking forward to the most? (Visit our Features page for a full story with details about all of these events.)

“In The Bag” exhibition, on view to September 28
0% (0 votes)
The Lords of 52nd Street concert, September 14
0% (0 votes)
Newtown Arts Festival weekend, September 15-16
25% (1 vote)
“An Evening of the Arts,” September 15
50% (2 votes)
“The Fox on the Fairway” production by Town Players of Newtown, weekends September 21-October 13
0% (0 votes)
“The Main Street Replica Project,” launching September 25
0% (0 votes)
Someday Cinema Series screenings of “The Blues Brothers,” September 30
0% (0 votes)
Photography display “In Our Rearview Mirror” by Marleen Cafarelli, et al, October 1-30
0% (0 votes)
“Love, Laughter, and Rhubarb” with Tinky Weisblat, October 3
25% (1 vote)
Newtown Day, October 6
0% (0 votes)
The 3rd Annual Newtown-Sandy Hook Restaurant Week, October 8-14
0% (0 votes)
Basket weaving workshop with Tina Puckett, October 13
0% (0 votes)
“Courageous Conversations in A Complex World,” October 17
0% (0 votes)
Live at ETH: David Wax Museum concert, October 19
0% (0 votes)
The 2nd Annual Fall Carnival at Fairfield Hills, October 19-21
0% (0 votes)
Connecticut Author’s Reading Series, October 21
0% (0 votes)
Natalie’s Open Mic, October 21
0% (0 votes)
“The Wordsmiths,” October 24
0% (0 votes)
Pianist Konstanza Chernov, October 28
0% (0 votes)
Someday Cinema Series double feature screenings of “Bride of Frankenstein” and “The Beast with Five Fingers,” October 29
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 4