This Friday, Bowdoin’s musical theater group Curtain Callers will open its fall production, “Urinetown,” a satirical musical directed by Erin Fitzpatrick ’15.
“Urinetown” takes place in a dystopian society ravaged by a drought that vastly limits the water supply. To conserve water, townspeople must pay to use public toilets owned by Urine Good Company, run by evil corporate magnate Caldwell B. Cladwell (Trevor Murray ’16). Strict laws prevent people from peeing anywhere else, and violators are sent to a mysterious place called Urinetown and are never seen again. The plot begins when rising toilet fees prompt urinal custodian Bobby Strong (Chris Genco ’15) to challenge the laws.
The musical uses comedy and satire to address themes of capitalism, environmentalism and revolution, but also explores more personal messages.
“All of the characters realize they have to follow their hearts. They want to believe in what they believe in instead of being controlled by one person,” said Adrienne White ’15, who plays Cladwell’s daughter Hope.
According to Fitzpatrick, Curtain Callers, a musical theater group formed three years ago, is essential to the college community because music adds an element that cannot be reproduced in other types of theater.
“People break out into music because words alone cannot express what they’re feeling,” she said.
The decision to perform “Urinetown” was based on the practicality and novelty of the material. Curtain Callers is a small group and it was important that members could serve multiple roles in the production.
“The board members are also performing in the show,” said Fitzpatrick, who, in addition to directing, is performing the role of Little Sally.
While the absurd premise of the story is original in itself, the play surprises the audience by breaking the fourth wall to directly address viewers. Officer Lockstock, played by Connor Handy ’13, co-narrates the play along with Little Sally.
“I’m constantly breaking the fourth wall. We have dialogue, just the two of us, kind of sprinkled throughout the show that interrupts the plot itself,” said Handy. “We speak to the audience, and it’s like a pause in the show.”
In addition, the musical numbers echo famous moments in other musicals.
“It pokes fun at a bunch of classic musicals, such as Chicago, West Side Story, and Les Misérables,” said Handy. “It takes musical inspiration from all of those shows. In each song you can hear a tint of a different musical.”
Curtain Callers is largely made up of first years and sophomores, many of whom have very limited experience with musical theater. In fact, though Genco plays the lead role, he has never before been in a musical.
“It’s been an overwhelming process, and it’s very new to me,” said Genco.
The small size of the group has presented some difficulties in production. The lack of male chorus members, for example, has made portraying the townspeople a challenge.
Despite these challenges, the small cast size has its benefits too.
“It seems like a very tight-knit group. It’s obviously very stressful, but rehearsals are always a ton of fun,” said Murray.
“Urinetown” will be performed on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium.