PITTSBURG — Pittsburg High School Theatre is upping the stakes with its fall musical “Urinetown.”
The production features some new additions, including a unique set with several moving parts and additional lighting technology. The singing parts are a little harder, the choreography a little more complex, but that does not slow down the cast of 30 PHS students.
“I’ve wanted to do this show for many years,” Director Greg Shaw said. “But you need the right cast, the right orchestra, the right crew. This year I felt like we really had all those parts.”
“Urinetown” is a satirical comedy set in a future where a massive water shortage has hit the world. Because of this, no one is allowed to use the bathroom without paying a fee that is regularly hiked. The witty, exciting story leads us into a tale of love, class and revolution against a tyrannical business tycoon.
“Any time you are dealing with satire, you have to really understand the plot and the characters,” Shaw said. “It takes a really good performer to understand that subtlety and how to deliver their lines. We’ve got 30 actors on stage and they all get it.”
The entire musical feels big — the cast of 30 feels like more. It’s constantly loud and in the face of the audience; sometimes breaking through to outrageous, but that is kind of the point.
PHS Sophomore Addy Campbell, who plays the role of Hope Cladwell, the daughter of the rich business tycoon, said that outrageousness drew her to the musical.
“I watched the show on Youtube before we had auditions and really liked Hope,” she said. “I’m optimistic as a person like she is, so I really liked the idea of having a chance to go really over-the-top with it.”
PHS Senior Matthew Buck plays the musical’s hero, Bobby Strong, and said the challenge of the role was appealing to him.
“All the roles for everyone onstage are really challenging,” he said. “I like to challenge myself, and I knew this character would do that. I knew to do well I’d have to really understand my character and the humor of the lines and I’ve enjoyed that process.”
Along with the challenging musical pieces, the performance has added technology. Four front-stage LED light bars, as well as increased ceiling lights were added for this production. The equipment was acquired from Memorial Auditorium.
“With our good relationship with Memorial Auditorium, it really allows us the opportunity to boost our program,” Shaw said. “These lights are from some older equipment they had and we were able to take advantage of that.”
For the past two years, PHS Theatre has brought home multiple awards on the state level from the Jester Awards. The Jester Awards are given by Music Theatre Wichita and are selected based on judges attending performances around the state.
This year, not only with state judges be attending the performance of “Urinetown,” but international judges will be attending for the first time.
“This is the first time we are bringing in the international adjudicators to our facility,” Shaw said. “We felt like it was a good year to sample that with this cast and crew. Whether we are selected or not, we will receive feedback from them that will help us become a better program overall.”
The performance also features a full pit orchestra led by PHS Music Director Cooper Neil, including PHS Vocal Director Susan Laushman.
Performances of “Urinetown” will take place at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with 2 p.m. matinee shows on Saturday and Sunday. All performances will be at the PHS Auditorium. Tickets are available at the door and cost $7 for adults, $5 for youths.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.