October 15, 2009

Urinetown, the Musical

Music & Lyrics by Mark Hollmann
Book & Lyrics by Greg Kotis

Music & Lyrics by Mark Hollmann
Book & Lyrics by Greg Kotis

Director: Stepan S. Simek
Music Director: Sue McBerry
Conductor: David Becker 
Scenery Designer: Curt Enderle
Costume Designer: Cara W. Carr
Lighting Designer: Matthew Robins 

For the first time in 10 years, Lewis & Clark’s Fir Acres Theatre was filled with the melodies of a main stage musical.  “Urinetown, the Musical,” marked a major collaboration between the theatre and music departments, members of Portland’s creative community and close to sixty student actors, musicians, and crew members.

“Students were totally and completely excited about the opportunity to do a musical,” said Director Stepan Simek, associate professor of theatre. “And ‘Urinetown’ is a musical unlike any other.”  An award-winning satire by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis about a society in which private toilets have been outlawed, “Urinetown” made its Broadway debut in 2001. Tired of being forced to abide pay-per-use public toilets, destitute citizens rise up against the corporation in control of what should be a basic human right.

“The story hits upon these major questions about capitalism, bureaucracy, and politics, but it does so in a completely tongue-in-cheek way,” Simek said. “There’s a sense that the creators,  Kotis and Hollmann said, ‘Let’s take a story that’s utterly ridiculous and have fun with it.’ Letting go like that, and finding joy in the absurd, is what attracted me to ‘Urinetown.’”

Creating connections across departments and disciplines

More than fifty students brought the musical to life, led by a cadre of professional theatre and music experts. Simek, who has earned accolades for his direction and translation of a number of professional productions, convened talented artists from across the Portland theatre community to assist with “Urinetown.”

Taking visual cues from contemporary photographs of New York City, the Emmy Award Award-winning scenic designer Curt Enderle brings his extensive experience to Fir Acres. Cara Carr, a contributor to more than 100 productions in the area, designs the costumes, drawing inspiration from sources as diverse as Norman Rockwell and the Village People, and the local choreographer, Lisa Zandy, stages the numerous energy-filled dances.

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