Skip to main content

Review of Urinetown The Musical by Miss:CREATES at the Castle Theatre (Studio), Wellingborough

I first saw Urinetown in London in November 2014 as an add-on for a trip to see another show (best not to comment on that one) and it was one of the easiest five stars I have ever awarded on this blog. An absolute joy from beginning to end, with super intelligent writing and some of the very best musical numbers you could want. It is the musical soundtrack that I have listened to by far the most since and remains up there in my favourite shows ever.

Therefore by fortune on a previous trip to the Castle, I spotted a flyer for the Miss:CREATES version of the show coming up and without question I knew I had to see it again. I also knew that other people needed to see beyond the title and theme and see it as I knew they would not regret it. So a social media campaign began to plug, plug and plug the show. Sadly no many fell for the bait, but that is unquestionably their loss.

However, could an amateur version of the show being performed in the small studio Castle Theatre live up to the standard of that at the Apollo, London? Well quite amazingly, the answer is generally yes. This is brimming with an exceptional cast, all seemingly expertly selected. Our narrator is Officer Lockstock played by David Russell with a delightfully quiet menace, almost too softly spoken at times. He guides us with the help of the sweet, soft toy clutching Little Sally (a wonderfully enthusiastic Kaye Stevens) into the tale, setting the scene of the "conceit" of the show that private toilets are no more because of devastating water shortages. We all must pay for that privilege to pee.

It is a slightly high scale crazy concept and one for a musical seems absurd, however creators Mark Hollman and Greg Kotis craft the tale with a self mocking edge at all times, drifting beyond the fourth wall often and forming some remarkably strong characters during the two hour show.

The cast have successfully breathed life into those characters. John Simpson creates an exceedingly slimy and wicked Caldwell B. Cladwell successfully demonising his workers and the money guided Senator Fipp (a brilliant Alan Galway). Simpson's performances of Mr Cladwell is wonderfully fun, while his Don't Be The Bunny (one of my favourites) is wickedly devilish.

I loved the casting of Becky Woodham and Mark Woodham as Josephine Strong and Old Man Strong, while Dan Hodson was an immensely strong Bobby Strong. That staging and performance of Run, Freedom, Run a particular highlight of the whole show. Sam McLaughlin was an effervescent Hope Cladwell, tremendously powerful singing and needed with her having some of the toughest songs to perform.

Perhaps the star turn though comes from Julie Futcher as Penelope Pennywise. I do feel the strongest character of the show, however it still needs a star turn to deliver the goods and that, saddled with garish make-up and flicking fag, Futcher delivers in bountiful amounts.

The ensemble work is also quite excellent, with some superb work done on the choreography. There are also some sneaky scene stealing moments by the wonderful Rita Gee during the group numbers. The small five piece band directed by Kaye Tompkins creates the superb music in a wonderfully powerful way, filling the studio with gorgeous sound. Director Sue Ebsworth on the relatively small but brilliantly constructed set uses every inch of space on offer to create a surprisingly big spectacle.

So perhaps my favourite musical recreated by Miss:CREATES with an expert amount of care. This truly is a show that needs to be seen beyond the theme and title (it is quite deliberate) and be heralded as what it is, a stunningly brilliant show. I challenge anyone to say after watching this that they didn't like it and this version is a particularly well created one at that. Get your head out the clouds and take a trip to Urinetown.


Performance reviewed: Tuesday 12th April, 2016 at the Castle Theatre (Studio), Wellingborough.

Urinetown The Musical by Miss:CREATES runs at the Castle Theatre (Studio), Wellingborough until Saturday 16th, 2016. Details can be found at http://www.thecastle.org.uk/urinetown-the-musical

For details about The Castle see their website at http://thecastle.org.uk/


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of A Passage to India at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Creating the world of E. M. Forster's A Passage to India for the stage and into a little over two hours running time offers many challenges, not least creating the visual world of India. However, this co-production between Royal & Derngate and simple8 throw away any need for complex sets, and bring the world of India, including some of its wildlife to life via boxes and bamboo canes. The success of this is really quite amazing as perhaps the crowning moment of the elephant brings home the most. Simple8 is an award-winning ensemble group and the way they work together to get their characters travelling through the world of India explains why they have received the awards.

A Passage to India is a 1924 novel telling of Britain's generally unpleasant rule in India and takes as its story an encounter between the elderly Mrs Moore (Liz Crowther), Adela (Phoebe Pryce), who is keen to see the real India, and Dr Aziz (Asif Khan). While their meetings seem pleasant, to begin with, e…

Review of The Flint Street Nativity, performed by University Of Northampton BA Actors at Maidwell Hall (Avenue Campus), Northampton

The Flint Street Nativity was presented by the BA Actors as part of a double bill with The Night Before Christmas, and you could hardly imagine such a difference in style. Tim Firth's genuinely, quite endearing play was quite the opposite to the rough and vicious Christmas spirit of the previous show.

Flint Street offers the intriguing situation of adult performers acting as children as they present to their audience (and always watched by the unseen, but a creepy red lighted teacher, Mrs Horrocks), their production of the nativity. It forms quite a delight of totally recognisable characters from your school days if you are able to remember that far back.

Among my favourite performances from this are Gemma Fensham as the total brat Gabriel, never seeming to have an expression other than sucking a lemon, as she breezily switches her best friend back and forth with abandon. She rather stylishly perfected the sulking strutting off routine as well, fabulous! Playing up to his size with…

Review of The Jungle Book at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

The Jungle Book is an age-old classic, made far more famous by Walt Disney than any other original writer going by the name of Rudyard Kipling. Mention the title to many people and they are more likely to say "oobee doo I wanna be like you" than say "oh, yes, the book by Kipling". Therefore to present this classic tale for the stage and dispense with all reference or hint to that ingrained music and create new music of your own is dangerous. However, that is before you witness the brilliant new work of Joe Stilgoe, with lyrics by adaptor Jessica Swale, and you realise very quickly you are in very safe hands. These are catchy, foot-tapping tunes of the killer variety.

However, Jessica Swale's adaptation is far from a procession of nifty tunes, this is a bold, clever and still very relevant production for 2017 of the now 123-year-old novel. Perhaps strong enough to live without those tunes if needed, this is no musical adaptation. Sweeping clever snatches of humo…