Make us your home page

Funny, clever 'Urinetown' provides a royal flush at Richey Suncoast

Mike McGuigan plays Officer Lockstock and Liz Onley is Little Sally in Urinetown at Richey Suncoast Theatre.


Mike McGuigan plays Officer Lockstock and Liz Onley is Little Sally in Urinetown at Richey Suncoast Theatre.

Please, please, please don't let the icky title of Urinetown, The Musical, put you off. If you do, you'll be depriving yourself of one of the funniest, cleverest, and, as done by Richey Suncoast Theatre, best-performed shows you will see in ages.

It takes satirical punches at the legal system, corporations, greedy capitalists, heartless business titans, irresponsible people who don't think of anything but themselves and their immediate needs — the heck with the future — and, of course, corrupt politicians on the take.

It won Tony Awards for best book and best score when it played Broadway from 2001 to 2004, but, unlike so many other shows, it's just gotten more relevant with every passing year.

It's set in the near future, when all the lakes and rivers have dried up from overuse, overpopulation and climate change, and flushing toilets has been declared illegal. Soon, the bushes and streets begin to smell because everyone uses them as latrines. Into this stinky mess comes the corporate mogul Caldwell B. Cladwell, played as charmingly manipulative by David Bethards, who creates Urine Good Company. He sets up public toilets, and bribes the cheerfully shifty Senator Fipp (Jeff D'Augustino) to pass laws forbidding anyone to pee (or defecate) any place but in Cladwell's toilets — and for a hefty fee. Those who don't are hauled off to the notoriously hideous Urinetown, never to be seen again.

Sounds gruesome, yes?

And it could be, except that it isn't. But only if the casting director finds the actors who can make it work, and that is exactly what director Marie Skelton did. She found the perfect actor for each part, in some cases two perfect actors for a part, in which case she lets them trade off nights performing those roles.

I saw it the night Malia Bolster played the cute, smarty-pants, wise-too-soon street urchin Little Sally, and she did it up right, cocking a skeptical eye at the show's narrator, Officer Lockstock, played with delightfully ironic snark by Mike McGuigan. What a couple of really gifted actors.

The razzle-dazzler, though, is Ryan Bintz, as Bobby Strong, leader of a Pee for Free rebellion among the unwashed masses. Bintz gets it, playing the brave hero in full "meller drammer" style, with over-the-top emotion and theatrics, followed quickly by demure glances and self-effacing modesty. Bintz belts it out in full gospel mode, in Run, Freedom, Run! then goes full bathos in Tell Her I Love Her and Follow Your Heart. He deserved every cheer and whistle he got at curtain call time.

So did the glamorous, beautiful Vicki Stinnett, who transmogrified herself into a dowdy drudge in combat boots, sagging cardigan and gosh awful hairdo to play the cruel toilet monitor Penelope Pennywise. Ms. Stinnett knows how to milk every line for all it's worth, and what a joy it is to watch her do it.

Also noteworthy are Brooke Stinnett as lovely young Hope Cladwell, Bobby's object of affection; the adorable Rachel Brown in long braids as Little Becky Two Shoes; Rickey Cheeks as the blustery, bullying Hot Blades Harry, who wants nothing more than to tie a rope around Hope's neck; and Roger Kleemichen all duded out in pink blazer and bleached hairdo as he vamps it up as Mr. Cladwell's toady.

A really terrific chorus/ensemble rounds it out, with right-on choreography by Bethards. Hand some whimsically absurd bits by Dale Collins as crotchety Old Man Strong, Justin Buyea as whiney Tiny Tom, Rich Aront as Lockstock's befuddled backup, Officer Barrel, and Courtney Burnett as almost-innocent victim, Ms. Millennium.

Special kudos to sound designer Jami Walls and sound operator Garrett Case, who placed both body and hanging microphones in perfect position to pick up every word spoken or sung by each cast member and keeping them at perfect levels throughout the entire show. This is important, because each line is worthy of hearing, as when the rebels shout they should be able "to pee whenever they like, as much as they like, for as long as they like, and with whomever they like." (Are you listening, North Carolina?) And, Officer Lockstock gives a shout out to the Rev. Thomas Malthus, the 19th century advocate for population control, as the curtain swings closed.

>>if you go


Urinetown, The Musical, weekends through May 29 at Richey Suncoast Theatre, 6237 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey. Tickets are $18, reserved seating. Youth and group tickets available, cash or check preferred; $7 service charge for credit cards. Call (727) 842-6777.


Funny, clever 'Urinetown' provides a royal flush at Richey Suncoast 05/19/16 [Last modified: Monday, May 23, 2016 9:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Glen Campbell's wife Kim discusses challenges, guilt caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, others face

    Life Times

    If there's one thing Kim Campbell would change about caregiving for Alzheimer's patients, it's the attitude so many of us have toward transferring a loved one from home to a long-term care facility. According to Campbell, it's often the most kind, loving decision you can make. It's not a sign of failure, but one of …

    Kim Campbell, wife of country music legend Glen Campbell, is acknowledged by those attending the free event where she shared the story of her personal journey with Alzheimer???‚??„?s disease and the struggles she faced caring for her husband on Friday (5/26/17) at the Suncoast Hospice's Empath Health Service Center in Clearwater. Empath Choices for Care, a member of Empath Health, and Arden Courts Memory Care hosted the free event where Kim shared her story to help others understand the early stages, how the disease changes lives, the challenges families face and the role of caregiver.
  2. What happened when I took my dad to a Pitbull concert

    Music & Concerts

    TAMPA — "So, you know how you like Pitbull?" I asked my dad. "We can see him."

    Selfie of Divya Kumar and Anand Kumar at Pitbull/Enrique Iglesias concert.
  3. Tampa City Council votes to accept travel invitation from Cuban ambassador


    The invitation came to Tampa City Council chairwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin in a June 9 letter from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.

    The Tampa City Council voted 6-0, with Frank Reddick out of the room, to respond to a travel invitation from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 25


    St. Pete Pride Festival: The daytime festival covers Central Avenue's Grand Central District with more than 350 vendors, multiple stages, live music, art and food. 9 a.m., Grand Central District, 2429 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 342-0084.

    Kristen Whalen poses for a photo before the start of the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg last year. It's that time of year again, so check with us for your planning purposes. [LUIS SANTANA  |   Times (2016)]
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 24


    St. Pete Pride Block Party and Night Parade: St. Pete Pride's popular parade moves to downtown St. Petersburg's scenic waterfront. The block party brings DJs, food and drinks starting at 2 p.m. The parade steps off at Fifth Ave NE and Bayshore at 7 p.m. with fireworks at 9:45 p.m. 2 p.m., North Straub Park, Fifth …

    Thousands line the streets of Central Ave. during the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg.  [Saturday, June 25, 2016] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]