Urinetown - Hayes Theatre (NSW)
Directed by Ylaria Rogers. Musical Direction by Matthew Reid.
Review by Karen Illesca
Hayes Theatre Company, Performances from 11 January 2023
URINETOWN TAKES THE PISS AND DELIVERS ENGAGING ENTERTAINMENT WITH A THOUGHT PROVOKING MANIFEST.
Although first produced in 2001, this clever satire by Mark Hollman and Greg Kotos still feels fresh and delivers a timely message with a pastiche cleverly drawn from classic musical theatre to highly humorous effect. The title ‘Urinetown’ admittedly does not inspire attraction, however is fitting for the central theme - a government-enforced ban on private toilets due to a 20-year drought - and is well used in word play throughout this show, which presents a comical caricature on capitalism, social irresponsibility, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, and municipal politics. The direction, by Ylaria Rogers, is at times inspired, extending on the well scripted humour. The choreography, by Cameron Mitchel, is expectedly exceptional, although on occasion would have been even more impactful with tighter delivery from the well balanced ensemble of seasoned and emerging talent who notably produced a full and balanced broadway sound despite their small number.
Photos by Phil Erbacher
Grunge theatre scaffolding is aptly employed in the set design. It works well in the Hayes Theatre space and is also used now and again to enhance classic visual comedic moments, the sight of Ma Strong and the ladder will likely stick in mind for years to come. The lighting design occasionally lets the production down and detracts from the overall experience of this production. Downstage moments are often unnecessarily completely in the dark and other key moments out of focus within this design. Possibly a re-design was required in the new theatre space after relocating from the previous theatre? Hand held torches were also a little over used and at times poorly targeted by the performers. The show however, is very well cast with Joel Horwood as the romantic boy-next-door hero Bobby Strong, providing many a starry eyed look dreamily with his piercing blue eyes and Pretronella Van Tienen is outstanding as ingenue Hope Cladwell, delivering a flawless character performance with vocal perfection. Karen Vickery’s accomplished experience is well employed in the narrator role of Lockstock and Max Gamble presents securely as Mr Cladwell, although possibly lacked a little of the gravitas required as principal antagonist. Of note is Natasha Vickery in the role of Little Sally, who executes exceptional comic timing with delightful vocal accomplishment. The score for this production is exceptional and expertly executed under the direction of Matthew Reid, who along with Camilla Bellstedt, Matthew Bell, Jason Smith and Roscoe Frazier provide a perfectly balanced and solid platform for the players to build on. This production is one well worth seeing.
CAST & CREATIVES Starring Artemis Alfonzetti, Dani Caruso, Joe Dinn, Deanna Farnell, Max Gambale, Joel Horwood, Tom Kelly, Kira Leiva, Barbra Toparis, Petronella Van Tienen, Benoit Vari, Karen Vickery and Natasha Vickery.
Director Ylaria Rogers
Musical Director Matthew Reid Choreographer Cameron Mitchell Assistant Director Megan Sampson Production Supervisor Derek Walker Stage Manager Amy Lawler Assistant Stage Manager Sebastian Winter Costume Designer Helen Wojtas Lighting Designer Jasmin Borsovszky Set Designer Monique Langford