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UI musical shows comedic side

BY SAMANTHA GENTRY | APRIL 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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In a futuristic town in which water is at a premium, the characters of Urinetown can only go to the bathroom if they pay for the use of a public amenity.

Each character faces the struggle of what they are willing to sacrifice in order to take a pee, even if that means risking their life or starting a revolution.

“I saw [Urinetown] on Broadway, and it was entertaining and charming,” said John Cameron, the director and choreographer of the show. “I thought it would appeal to several generations. It’s a fun night in the theater.”

University of Iowa students will perform the Tony Award-winning musical at 8 p.m. Friday in the Theatre Building’s Mabie Theatre. Performances will continue through April 24. Admission is $5 for UI students with valid IDs, $15 for senior citizens, and $20 general admission.

Cameron is the head of the UI acting department, where he has taught acting classes for 14 years. He doesn’t usually direct musicals, he said, but it has been a pleasure to work with everyone in the show.



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“We had quite a few options for actors, but all of these people were very strong,” said Cameron, before singing along with the actors to the opening number during a rehearsal. “It’s a wonderful cast.”

UI senior Alex Lamb, a theater major with an acting emphasis, is one of the many main characters in Urinetown.

Lamb plays Bobby Strong, a young man working for the Urine Good Company, which regulates the water and sewage system for the city. His character functions as the assistant custodian for the public amenity.

“I’m in charge of basically cleaning up the toilets,” he said. “But I decide to start a revolution, because I don’t think it’s fair that people have to pay to pee.”

His character then falls in love with Hope Cladwell, the daughter of the Urine Good Company owner. Lamb describes their relationship as love at first sight, but “Romeo and Juliet style.” UI student Lauren Baker, who is a double major in theater and vocal performance, plays Hope.

Hope is the privileged, sheltered, and naïve daughter of the villain of the show. She comes to work in a world that she has never been exposed to and starts to see all of the problems that the poor face.

When she falls in love with Bobby, she is caught between her father, who is trying to kill the revolution, and the man who started it.

“[Hope] is like what I would be if I were a Disney princess,” Baker said. “She loves being alive, and she thinks that life should be beautiful, which is something I think we all should probably think about more often.”

Both Lamb and Baker were participants in show choir in high school; last year, they performed in Reefer Madness, another musical at the UI.

It’s unusual for the Theater Department to put on two musicals in two years, Baker said, but she loves being able to display her talents.

“[Urinetown] is a really timely and great show,” Lamb said. “It kind of speaks to a lot of things that are happening in our world today, but it still maintains the fun and excitement of musical theater.”


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