Opening Weekend of “Urinetown” Disperses a Pleasant Stench

The double-cast GVSU theater production consistently drew laughs, accolades during its opening weekend

By Shelby Pendowski | 2/3/14 11:53am

Urinetown. One can only imagine the fowl attributes of a town with such a name.“Urinetown: The Musical” acknowledges this less-than-flattering name, but the production is anything but unsettling. The stage at the Grand Valley State University’s Louis Armstrong Theater came to life this past weekend with this knee-slapping comedy. “Urinetown” is a satirical musical comedy about a time when a twenty-year drought forces humans to go to dramatic efforts in order to ration water, including paying to use the toilet. At the same time, big business influences all government decisions. The plot follows the love story of Bobby Strong (Alexander Williams, double cast with Greg Papas), a waste facility assistant, and Hope Caldwell (Alexandra Papas, double cast with Amanda Furstenberg), the daughter of monopoly-villain Caldwell B. Cladwell (Greg Papas, double cast with Gabe Reitemeier). Williams and Alexandra Papas dazzled with their portrayal of their characters’ doomed romance. Although their Romeo and Juliet love story took place in a sewer rather than on a balcony, it kept the audience laughing from beginning to end. Williams, a freshman, was spectacular in his collegiate debut and paired perfectly with Alexandra Papas, who played the stereotypical ditsy daughter of the Urine Good Company owner. The witty commentary of Andrew Steward as Officer Lockstock and Maggie Bickerstaff as Little Sally kept the audience engaged as they consistently broke the fourth wall. The bantering of Steward and Bickerstaff definitely was one of the show’s highlights. All the leads continually stole the spotlight from each other, making for an overall talented cast. Abigail Hollenbeck (Penelope Pennywise, double cast with Caitlin Cusack) and Greg Papas kept the audience laughing, the entire cast sang beautifully and the chemistry amongst the cast made the production that much more cohesive. Although the musical kept a smile on audience members’ faces, it also educated about the importance of taking care of the environment and keeping businesses and the government in check. Therefore, if you are looking for a joyful number to conclude the show about how the world is magically fixed through love and hope, this isn’t the musical for you. In the words of Officer Lockstock remember, “this isn’t a happy musical.” The cast takes to the stage again Feb. 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 9 at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $14 for adults, $12 for faculty, seniors, staff and alumni and $6 for students or groups more than 10.

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