Colorado State’s production of ‘Urinetown’ entertains, enchants with a stunning set and strong ensemble

Claire Oliver

Theatre student Charlotte Nickell portrays Ms. Pennywise, a begrudged amenities worker in Colorado State University’s production of “Urinetown.” (Photo courtesy of John Eisley).

The name “Urinetown” may cause some confusion, but the new Colorado State University production of the hit Broadway musical is fun, hilarious and entertaining. 

The show takes place in a small town that has been affected by a 20-year long drought.  Because there is a limited water supply, the public amenities are being regulated by the U.G.C. or Urine Good Company.  The public has to pay to urinate, which is hard for those in the working class. 

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The show centers around Bobby Strong, a custodian at one of the public amenities, and Hope Cladwell, the daughter of Mr. Cladwell—the owner of the U.G.C.  The two stand as star-crossed lovers who help to stir up a rebellion against the U.G.C. for the overpriced bathroom fees. 

The humorous script is a parody of several different Broadway shows including “West Side Story” and “Les Miserables.” The score jumps from different genres, making it easy to stay interested and engaged throughout the performance. 

“Urinetown will perform May 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee on May 7.  Tickets can be purchased at https://csuartstickets.universitytickets.com/w/default.aspx and are free for CSU students.  

There are also underlying political messages throughout the show. The errors within both capitalist and socialist societies are examined during the performance; with song and dance, of course. The message seems to say that one is not better than the other and that capitalism and socialism, in their purest forms, ultimately do not work for human interests.  

Jake Cuddemi, a junior theatre performance major, stands out as Bobby Strong.  His strong voice and endearing performance make it easy for the audience to support the rebellion from the get-go.  His nemesis Mr. Cladwell, played by junior theatre performance major Bruce Gammonley, is formidable and terrifying and was one of my favorites. Gammonley’s rendition of “Don’t Be The Bunny” was as catchy as it was disturbing.  

Theatre student Sydney Fleischman portrays Hope Cladwell in Colorado State University’s production of “Urinetown” Fleischman’s character is captured by the resistance for the right to pee for free. (Photo courtesy of John Eisley).

The anti-hero of the show, Ms. Pennywise, an appropriate name for the queen of the sewer system, was played by Charlotte Nickell, a senior theatre performance and human development and family studies major.  Whenever she was on stage, she captured the audience with her grimace and plunger. Nickell put on a performance that did a wonderful job capturing the sincerity as well as the hilarity of the show.

The ensemble was easily the best part.  Each number with the entire cast brought a new vibe and each cast member had a well-defined character.  The ensemble showcased members like Kalie Lanik, who hobbled around in a brace, and Zack Rickert, whose character was a vindictive sociopath. 

The set, designed by senior technical theatre major Shay Dite, was stunning. The whole city looked run down and the small details like the shoes hanging from strands of lights and clouds of fog coming from the gutters added to the entire atmosphere. The costumes were fantastic as well, as the colors yellow and red were incorporated into the ensemble costumes as the rebellion began. 

 There were a few moments in the first act where most lyrics from the songs got lost because of so much happening on stage. But in numbers like “Run, Freedom, Run” and “Snuff That Girl,” the timing was great and the ensemble really knocked it out of the park. 

Should you see it: Yes

The show is really enjoyable. My sides hurt after the show and it was a great way to relax and take a break from studying for finals. 

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Collegian reporter Claire Oliver can be reached at entertianment@collegian.com or on Twitter @claireoliver_21.