Thursday, November 28, 2019

Pee Power to the People!

Peeing is a very personal matter. And unless you're in a third world country with limited resources or are transgender in a hostile political climate in which where you pee is a matter of debate, urinating is something we generally take for granted. For most of us, when we've GOT to go, we GET to go. 

In Urinetown, the power struggle between the poor and the wealthy centers around a 20-year drought which has caused a water shortage. Private bathrooms are a thing of the past. And the evil corporation Urine Good Company, run by CEO Caldwell B. Cladwell , controls the city's bathrooms.

If you ain't got the dough, you don't get to go.  But mother nature is a bitch, and sometimes that means you go wherever you can. In Urinetown, public urination is a jailable offense. And Officers Lockstock and Barrel are deadly serious in their pee patrol. 

Photo Credit: Tom Topinka

When Cladwell's daughter, Hope, falls in love with Bobby Strong, the leader of the people's resistance, all hell breaks loose and hilarity ensues. Urinetown is a uproarious comedy about class warfare.

I love new discoveries. I came to Urinetown with no idea what it was about. I left a fan.

Under Matt Polson's skillful direction, and with a stellar cast, this was a theatrical experience I won't soon forget. Kudos to Matt Shofner (Bobby Strong), Madison Hatfield (Hope Cladwell), Michaela Nicole (Penelope Pennywise), Caldwell B. Cladwell (Luke Schares), Kelsey Cordrey (Little Sally), Bianca Bryan (Officer Lockstock), Travis West (Officer Barrel/Piano), Levi Meerovich (Hot Blades Harry/Piano), Allisan Paige Gilman (Little Becky Two Shoes), Lennon Hu (Senator Fipp/Bass), Maggie Bavolack (Josephine Strong/Clarinet), Anne Michelle Forbes (Soupy Sue) and Joe Lubman (drums). Each and every one  had stand-out performances with top notch voices and acting. 

And congratulations go to Travis West for his clever musical direction. And Nicole Morris-Anastasi  knocked it out of the park with her choreography. Set design, costuming, lighting, and sound were all exceptional. 

Urinetown is a true ensemble performance without a weak link. 

Urinetown (music and lyrics by Mark Hollmann and Books and Lyrics by Greg Kotis) first debuted in 2001, and is set in the early 1900's, however it's timeless in its depiction of power versus poverty. There's another musical in town right now. Thousands are paying top price to see a show with similar themes. Wouldn't it be wonderful if even just one percent of the people paying top dollar for *that* show could support local theatre. With Urinetown, they'd get their money's worth tenfold. 

Urinetown runs through December 28 at TheatreLAB's The Basement. For tickets, click here

Not only do you experience great theatre,  but you can pee for free without being arrested. Although Bryan's Officer Lockstock is so sexy you might just want to be handcuffed.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Officially Holiday Season

There are plenty of indications the holiday season is in full force. Whether we like it or not.  Christmas trees at Walmart,  holiday music on loop at Mix 98.1 F.M, peppermint mochas at Starbucks,! ornaments and bells galore - even Santa - in my office.

But it is NOT officially the holiday season until Richmond Triangle Players does their annual show.

This year's selection, Times Square Angels is a hit! With drag queens, lovestruck Romeos, sinister villains and naughty angels giggling and acting up when they think God (voiced by Susan Sanford) isn't paying attention, RTP's production of Charles Busch's renowned play is the perfect way to officially welcome the holiday season.

Irish O'Flanagan (Wette Midler a/k/a Luke Newsome) is a second-rate night club performer fighting to keep her place as the center of attention. She falls in with the wrong crowd - Chick La Fountain (Eddie Webster) and his cronies - and heads down a dangerous path. Albert hopes to show her the error of her ways and give her one last chance to turn her life around. And while Irish has a tendency to alienate those who could most help her - seasoned performer Helen Sternhan (Michael Hawke) for example - underneath the corsets she has a heart of gold and earns the loyalty of old friend and lovestruck Eddie (endearingly played by Carlen Kernish) and her maid, Peona (Nora Ogunleye).

Luke Newsome (Richmond drag queen Wette Midler) is stunning in red evening gown (Alex Valentin's costumes are lovely) and gorgeous Joel-Furtick wig. And her performance as Irish O'Flanagan is sweet and charming.

I'd like to come out (pun intended) and confess my crush on Jeffrey Cole who is devilishly handsome and charming in the role of the less-than-angelic Albert trying to earn his place in Heaven.

Times Square Angels is not a sophisticated story. And it doesn't need to be. It's sweetly reminiscent of  holiday classics such as It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. Melissa Rayford deftly directs this nostalgic, heartfelt, and joyful audience-pleasing holiday gem.

There's an encore at the end - a fun sing-a-long with cast members lip syncing their hearts out to our favorite Yuletide tunes. Helen's  Auld Lange Syne as the swan song is nostalgic and tender. A perfect way to end a show about second chances, and the true meaning of the holiday spirit.

You can catch Times Square Angel through December 21, 2019. To purchase tickets click here.