November 06, 2008

Urinetown: The Musical

Opening Nov. 6, 2008,  “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

Fall 2008 Main Stage Production

For the first time in 10 years, Lewis & Clark’s Fir Acres Theatre will be filled with the melodies of a main stage musical. Opening Nov. 6, “Urinetown, the Musical,” marks 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. Read the full Newsroom story here.

Urinetown will be open for two weeks, with nightly performances Nov. 6-8 and 13-15 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Box Office, beginning Monday, Nov. 3, and reservations can be made by calling 503-768-7495. More information is available here.


From the Director

Musicals are generally considered the most American of all arts. Broadway’s fame, and its iconic position as the theatrical heart of America are largely based on the hundreds if not thousands of musical productions that graced the “Great White Way” in the last hundred years or so. The American theatrical tradition would be incomplete without the art of the musical, and it is with that thought in mind that we at the Lewis & Clark College decided to produce Urinetown, the Musical. As an American college theatre department, we want to partake fully in the best of theatrical traditions of this country, and our recent Fir Acres seasons, while reflecting the broad scope of the world drama, were missing exactly that one piece – a musical.  It has been more than ten years since the last musical production at Fir Acres, and after a long pause, the stars of collaboration between the Theatre and Music departments finally aligned themselves in such way that a large-scale musical production became possible again.

We thought that Urinetown, the surprise 2002 Broadway hit and the recipient of three Tony Awards, as well as numerous other accolades, would be a perfect choice for the reintroduction of musicals to our repertoire. The sheer audacity of its title and absurdity of the central premise of the play intrigued us. The decidedly post-modern self-referential quality of its structure, its tongue-in-cheek way of poking fun at the genre by cleverly referencing the vast body of American musicals, appealed to our sense of humor, and last but not least, the large number of juicy roles for our students that script offers persuaded us that Urinetown is extremely well suited for the purposes of our Theatre and Music departments.

The process of putting on a musical is very different from the so-called “straight drama,” and the last six months or so of preparation and rehearsals have been extremely educational for both the creative team and the student actors and singers onstage. For one thing, the sheer amount of direction that the performers needed to absorb from the stage director, vocal and music  director, and choreography was quite unprecedented. They all needed to become what is called “triple-threat” performer – an all around artist equally at home in acting, singing and dancing, and they all have succeeded admirably in doing so. I, as the stage director, needed to learn a new vocabulary of musical and dance terms, and I needed to convey to the actors, a slightly different, more “presentational” acting technique, which in some significant ways differs from the more psychologically based performance techniques of the “straight” drama.

Ultimately, the greatest pleasures in creating the work you are about to see were the sense of incredible joy shared by everybody involved in the process, and the tremendously fruitful collaboration between the various aspects of the production. We are all very lucky people. We had the privilege to work together with talented, dedicated, exceptionally hard working, and creative people across various disciplines; we had the opportunity to create joy and to awe ourselves and our collaborators with brilliant insights, jokes, inventions, and bursts of untamed energy; and we are now in the rare position of actually sharing something of tangible, lasting, and unforgettable value with you.

-Stepan S. Simek