Something smells over at Shot in the Dark Productions, and the cast and crew couldn’t be happier.
Among the plungers and toilets lies the theater’s latest project, “Urinetown: The Musical.” Yeah, that's really the title. Curious, yet? Director Kristy Tremayne agreed that it's certainly an odd moniker. The story's premise is even odder.
“It’s about a corporation called UGC [Urine Good Company] that takes over the amenities where people pee and charge all of the poor people money to go to the bathroom,” said Tremayne. “They revolt and try to take over the company so that they can pee for free.”
What a world.
Originally, the story was set in the “not-so-distant future,” but Shot in the Dark’s adaptation takes place in the 1940s. The aesthetics match the time shift but the story and themes remain true to the source material, especially concerning the show’s spoofs of other musical theater a la “The Cradle Will Rock,” “The Threepenny Opera” and “Les Miserables.”
“There’s a bit in the show where they do a song and dance that reflects a particular musical,” said Tremayne. “And they’ll do some more song and dance where it reflects another popular musical. They kind of poke fun at other musicals. It’s very, very unique.”
Despite the rather striking title, Tremayne said there isn’t really anything “gross” or obscene in the musical. In fact, there are some scenes that are rather cartoonish and bombastic in nature.
“Urinetown: The Musical” is also jam packed with dance numbers, choreographed by Nancy Seeman, who also stars as one of the central characters. Sounds like a lot of work? Well, it is. But Seeman is taking it in stride and loving every minute of it.
“When I’m choreographing the dances, I’m not only looking at it as a choreographer, I’m looking at it as an actress that’s going to be in this dance,” she said. “As an actress, I know the show front to back. I’ve read the script and I really try to look at the intent of what the characters are thinking at that point in time and how that dance should reflect it.”
As Hope Cladwell -- daughter of Caldwell B. Cladwell, the evil president and owner of UGC -- Seeman knows what her character is thinking about and constructs dance moves from there. But it isn’t just her character that she’s choreographing, Seeman is in charge of choreographing each character’s dance routines.
“There’s a ton of dancing,” said Seeman. “I think this is the sixth show here [at Shot in the Dark] that I’ve choreographed and it has the most dancing that I’ve ever done. I think there are about 10 or 12 dance numbers.”
Taking inspiration from YouTube videos of past productions, Seeman can get an idea of what routines work best in the space she’s provided and start generating her regimen from there.
Scott Kruse, who plays the rebellious Hot Blades Harry, said “Urinetown: The Musical” is a good mix between “serious and funny.” And his role indicates that.
“It’s not necessarily an easy role or anything like that, but it’s definitely the funniest show I’ve been a part of,” said Kruse, who also starred in Shot in the Dark’s “Sweeney Todd,” “American Idiot” and “Heathers: The Musical.”
Kruse added that “Urinetown: The Musical” has allowed him to step out of his comfort zone, especially when it comes to dancing, which he said is not his strong suit.
“This is definitely pushing my limits,” Kruse said with a laugh, “which is a good thing because it helps me grow as an actor.”
If the name of the show didn’t make people scratch their heads, then they will by the time they finish watching “Urinetown: The Musical.” The themes of capitalism, populism and bureaucracy oughta take audience members by surprise.
“This is a show that will make you think,” said Kruse. “But you definitely leave laughing.”