The Firehall Arts Centre
Urinetown: the Musical Book Greg Kotis; Music and Lyrics Mark Hollman & Greg Kotis

Dates and Venue 1 – 29 November 2014, Tues – Sat 8pm (Matinees Sat & Sun at 3pm) | Firehall Arts Centre

Reviewer Ed Farolan

In 2006, we reviewed this play which made its premiere in Vancouver and won Jessies for Best Play and Best Director. I won't be surprised if it will again win awards in the upcoming Jessies. It was superbly directed by Donna Spencer who also plays Ma Strong; the choreography by Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg was flawless; the set design by Ted Roberts was exceptional; and Barbara Clayden's costumes were to the T. Seasoned actors David Adams as Officer Lockstock acted brilliantly as the narrator and Andrew Wheeler as Cladwell B. Cladwell was excellent as the villainous capitalist, owner of UGC (Urine Good Company), and our hero Bobby Strong was played like a revolutionary leader by Anton Lipovetsky.

Other fine actors whose names are all too familiar are in this cast: Michelle Bardach (Hope Cladwell), Chris Cochrane (Officer Barrell, Kaffeine Karl), Rosie Simon (Soupy Sue, Cop & Cladwell's Secretary), David Marr (Mr McQueen and Cop), Matt Palmer (Senator Fipp), Tracey Power (Little Sally), Meghan Gardiner (Penelope Pennywise), Katey Hoffman (Little Becky Two Shoes, Cop & Mrs. Millenium), Andrew Cohen (Robbie the Stockfish/Dance Captain/Bobby understudy), Patrick Keating (Pa Strong), Chris Lam (Tiny Tom,Cop), Shane Snow (Hot Blades, Cop & Dr Billeaux). They all did a fantastic job individually and as an ensemble. All but three from the 2006 cast, according to Spencer, are new to this 2014 production.

This futuristic musical comedy about a dystopian city controlled by a money-hungry corporation profiting from a deadly drought.makes us more aware of our environment, especially the fact that if we're not careful, we'll end up with no water and life would be like Urinetown. In a talk-back after last Saturday's matinee show, Spencer mentioned how once upon a time in a valley where she's originally from in Alberta, water was flowing through clean creeks and rivers. Today, with oil pipings and diggings, all that water is gone.

Spencer Herbert, Donna Spencer's son, NDP MLA for the West End, together with Justice Cohen of the Cohen Commission whose son Andrew is in the cast, and a representative of Environment BC, were in the panel. Although only half a dozen remained for the talk back after the matinee show, it was a fruitful discussion in that the government is aware now of these problems and has legislation on environment, unlike before when there was absolutely no concern about water and ecology.

This is a must-see show, not only for the entertainment, but also from an educational point of view. And don't forget to throw in a donation when you go and pee.

© 2014 Ed Farolan