Written by Alina Mae Wilson
It’s time to welcome a new theater company to the Orange County area. DCMS (Don’t Cut My Song) Productions has come to town, and they’ve set up shop for their first show over at the Gem Theatre in Garden Grove. Considering the fact that just last week I was writing about a company leaving Orange County, it’s comforting to see some new groups sidling in to keep our community’s theater culture up and running. New companies bring new experiences, as DCMS’s production of Urinetown at the Gem Theater demonstrates. It’s an eye catching show with beautiful costumes and appealing set pieces bountifully sliding across the floor, but some of the main characters needed a bit more polish and energy before going onto the stage.
Urinetown The Musical is set in a semi post-apocalyptic future where the scarcity of water is such that people wait hours to pay a bathroom fee in order to relieve themselves. In the event they cannot or will not pay the fee, offenders are sent to the oft mentioned but rarely seen “Urinetown” as punishment for their toilet transgressions. These people are never seen again. Low-income slag Bobby Strong takes issue with this and heroically steps up to lead the charge against the villain using wealth and political influence to rule the town with an iron fist. This deviant’s name is Mr. Cladwell. His daughter Hope is returning from school to help him run the business. Once in town she quickly forms a bond with the shy and awkward Bobby, who decides the time is ripe for a rebellion against Cladwell’s tyrannical reign over basic human faculties. Musical comedy ensues.
Do not let the crass title fool you. Urinetown is an amusing show with a good message and is conspicuously devoid of toilet humor. Sure there are inevitable references to it being a “privilege to pee” or “going in jars,” but for the most part the dialogue is fairly non-graphic. The show really focuses on the politics of the town, the music, and the clear cut message. Our two narrators are Officer Lockstock and a grungy street urchin named Little Sally. I believe the story to be fairly straightforward myself, but the duo’s narration immediately dismiss any doubts regarding Urinetown‘s comprehensibility. Officer Lockstock spends his time explaining relelvant plot points to Little Sally, who often questions the show’s logic. Everything happening in the show is incredibly clear. For these reasons one could consider this show family friendly.
However, the fact that this show is technically appropriate for children to watch doesn’t mean they will get enjoyment out of it. Urinetown has a live band hidden behind a screen, but even live music can’t hide the fact the songs aren’t very good. Whether because of microphone issues or the singers not projecting, the ensemble cast are irritatingly quiet and frequently out of tune. The best songs are somewhat catchy, so I suppose you might bounce along to them. There’s some inconsistency as far as choreography because some dances are clear cut with purpose and a vision in mind while some just seem to be all over the place. “Cop Song” and “Don’t Be The Bunny” are pretty awesome. In contrast, “We’re Not Sorry” looks significantly clumsier.
In a sense the difference between one actor’s acting ability and another’s is very visible. In some casts everyone is on par with everyone else. In others everyone is feeble. Urinetown has actors of both caliber: one will be energetic, another will be bland, one will have their lines down pat, but another will consistently forget what they are supposed to say. Line flubs tend to die down around the halfway point of ACT 1, but they really slow down the pace whenever they occur.
Lead actresses (Ashley Montgomery), Alexandra Denton (Penelope Pennywise), and Sydney Fitzgerald (Little Sally) carried the show, along with some of the more exciting songs.
March 4 -13 2016
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