Theatre Review: Urinetown The Musical

This is a solid production that is well worth the trip to the hills, especially if you are up for a laugh

Presented by: Hills Musical Company
Reviewed on: 10 May, 2024

A title like Urinetown might put you off visiting the theatre, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that this musical is all piss taking and no substance. However, this dystopian world, in which people must pay to go to the toilet, is full of uncomfortable scenarios that are only lightened by the humour littered throughout the script. The Hills Musical Company production of this show is full of humour. 

Director, Ruby Pinkerton, is a seasoned performer, and this is her first foray into directing with the Hills Musical Company. There are some wonderful moments in this show that really highlight the power struggle between characters.  In some points comedy can seem overplayed where more reliance on the humour within the script may have allowed the audience to find the more uncomfortable humour playing to the desolation of the show. 

Musical Directors Ben and Kristin Stefanoff are no strangers to musical theatre, boasting a large repertoire between them. This is evident as one of the strongest elements of this musical is the wall of sound created when the cast sing in unison. Their tone and balance work beautifully throughout the show and create depth in big numbers. The orchestra, too, is expertly balanced between the pit and onstage sound. 

Choreographer, Jemma Allen, has played to the strengths of her cast. A highlight is the number Snuff That Girl where the ensemble dances in partnership with vigour. Some fresh and unexpected choices may have enhanced the overall aesthetic and story. The cast did not let her down, as they gave their all to her choreography at all times. 

You can instantly feel the dedication the cast has put into this show. All members performed with high energy and seemed devoted to every moment. They each had small cameos to shine and no member fell short of any other. Their teamwork helped scenes move smoothly.  

Andrew Crispe, as Officer Lockstock steals the show. His powerful voice, and well timed humour, makes him a stand out to watch. Moments where he is onstage with Katy Driver (Little Sally) and Sam Davey (Officer Barrel) are highlights of the show, and always got a laugh. This is helped by Sam’s great comedic timing or Katy’s perfectly executed comments. 

Megan Davidson plays the innocent, fresh-faced Hope Cladwell. Her character arc is by far the most extensive, growing from naive follower of her father’s regime, to rebel. Some character choices reduced the impact of this arc, which would have benefited from a more radical change.  Vocally, Megan beautifully brings to life the voice of Hope, with an understanding of what she is singing and a lovely tone. 

Hope’s onstage partner Bobby Strong, played by Liam Phillips, looks every bit the young revolutionary with big ideas that keep his head in the clouds. He has a lovely voice that matches Megan’s during their duet, however in some areas it could have used further refinement. Liam has a captivating presence onstage. 

Sarah Hamilton, plays the industrious Penelope Pennywise, owner of the cheapest amenity in town. Though she is small in stature, her character is a powerhouse with a voice to match. There were moments where movement impacted her vocals, but her acting always kept your eyes trained to her. 

Josh Barkley, who plays Caldwell B. Cladwell, has a wonderfully strong voice as he sings the song of his namesake. At times his stance and positioning onstage did not promote the commanding nature of Caldwell. His descent into a loss of power throughout the show, however, was well executed. 

Pinkerton’s set design captures the dystopian, desolate draught which is the setting for this show. There is a beautifully painted backdrop with detailed cityscape to separate the privileged from the poor. It almost feels dry and dusty as the dirty dystopian setting is further enhanced by Michael Bentley’s lighting which gives the stage a dense and murky appearance. Patched and worn costumes, by Nicky Fereday, complement the idea of destitution within the poor, while the polished costumes of the upper class and offices further support the separation of “us” and “them”. 

This is a solid production that is well worth the trip to the hills, especially if you are up for a laugh. 

Reviewed by Ashleigh Rathjen

Photo credit: Daniel Salmond

Venue: Stirling Community Theatre
Season:  Until 25 May, 2024
Duration:  2 hours and 15 minutes approx (including interval)
Tickets:  $27 – $36

Disclaimer: Kristin Stefanoff is a member of the Glam Adelaide arts team. Ben Stefanoff is the arts editor for Glam Adelaide

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