05
Nov
12

Coolum Theatre Players’ Urinetown

Coolum Theatre Players

 

Urinetown The Musical

Coolum Theatre Players Inc.

Coolum Civic Centre

26th – 28th October & 9th – 11th November 2012

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

“What kind of musical is this?!”

 

Urinetown is not your ordinary musical. If you know it, or if you’ve been following this blog, you would know it’s a parody of the musical genre with some pretty intense warnings about the overuse of natural resources. This production comes with an interesting twist. At its core is the driving character, Bobby Strong, who inspires a small revolution, as the people rise up and demand their right to pee for free. New to the Sunshine Coast and new to Coolum Theatre Players, Director and Musical Director Linda Gefken, has cast newcomer, Michelle Lamarca, in the role. Lamarca is terrific, particularly vocally, and the love story works, despite knocking for six a couple of the oldies in the matinee audience on the opening weekend! When they realised what was happening between Bobby and Hope there were audible gasps. I’m proud to say my six year old was completely au fait with the two girls falling in love and I didn’t need to “explain” anything. (But thanks for checking up on my parenting skills and reminding me that there are still great social changes necessary on the Sunshine Coast, concerned, conservative, local elderly lady!). It’s a brave choice and it works.

 

In another gender-blind casting decision, we see Coolum favourite, Jesse Hanna Ellison, in the role of Officer Lockstock, the (untouchable) narrator. Ellison’s dry delivery sets the tone of the show and keeps things moving at a nice pace. Ellison is a seasoned performer and her confidence shines through, with strong vocal work and a suitably caustic character at times, balanced beautifully with a tenderness in her conversations towards the conclusion, with Little Sally. There are only a couple of experienced performers gracing the stage – most of them have had little or no experience on stage – and for the first time ever in Coolum, it’s difficult for me to tell who those brand new performers are. Gefken’s touch?

 

Despite some rookie errors and several missed opportunities, this is a strong production for Coolum Theatre Players and they can be justifiably proud of their efforts. It’s a solid ensemble that will show increasing confidence as the season continues (they had a break over the weekend but you can catch the final three shows this weekend). I’m sure the company was told that they must stay interested in what’s happening and to maintain their characters even when they are not the centre of attention. I’d like to see those faces interested in what’s happening around them and see those reactions as if the thing was said for the first time. Focus and really listen. Harmonies are fine – there are some great new voices in there – and Run Freedom Run is a highlight. The band, and thus the company, is a little slow to get going but by Run Freedom Run you’ll be tapping your feet and clapping and singing along with them. Full marks to Lamarca for the power and ease with which she delivered her additional gospel style vocal line.

 

The costumes in this production are fantastic, largely sourced from a local hire shop and the set, dependent again as in previous productions in this venue, on projected images, was helped this time by the addition of a portable toilet on stage (PHONE 1800 POO WEE), which I felt was under utilised…but it was there.

 

Maia Knibb’s Hope Cladwell is as sweet as pie (but watch that accent!), and David Readett, who plays her father, Caldwell Cladwell, rouses laughs from everyone else but me; I felt the caricature and the incessant shouting too much. (Find the balance!). As Little Sally, Nikki Middleton does an admirable job and captures just as many hearts as Knibb does; so cute is she with her puppy and her too worldly comments and questions. I believe there was a bit of a cast shuffle at the last minute when the company had no boys to cast in those two leading roles and from what I can see, this is the best thing to have happened. Now the company need to work on their shuffle, their box step and on various other moves to show that they are also confident dancers.

 

Coolum Theatre Players continue to attract new, enthusiastic performers and Gefken’s production of Urinetown for them, has a terrific fresh energy to it, despite the slightly dubious content, themes and tone of the show! There are three more shows this weekend and at Coolum Civic Centre you’re welcome to take in your own little picnic for the table (our favourites are water crackers, pate, chunky dips, cherry tomatoes, blue cheese, brie, olives, bread, bubbly and sparkling mineral water for the children and DD’s!), so get a group together and get online and book before you miss this fun one!

 

Urinetown Coolum Theatre Players

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2 Responses to “Coolum Theatre Players’ Urinetown”


  1. 1 gaya elizur
    November 5, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    I have seen the musical and thought it was great! For a local production, with a small budget for props, they did so well. The lack of a boy for the role of Bobby was wonderfully compensated for, and the twist in the relationship was subtly done and is most appropriate for our days.

  2. November 5, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    Gaya, thanks for your comments. I agree with you and I’m glad you also enjoyed the show! I’m looking forward to hearing about Coolum’s 2013 season. I’m sure it will attract even more new talent to the Coolum stage. x


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