BHS drama and stagecraft collaborate on dynamic production of ‘Urinetown’

The Berkeley High School Florence Schwimley Little Theater was filled with color, song, dance, and applause as the cast of Urinetown performed their second of five shows on Saturday, Feb.


The Berkeley High School Florence Schwimley Little Theater was filled with color, song, dance, and applause as the cast of Urinetown performed their second of five shows on Saturday, Feb. 24. Families, friends, and students alike gathered in the theater to watch the BHS drama and stagecraft programs present their rendition of the Tony Award-winning musical. This was BHS’s first musical in many years, largely due to COVID-19, and much to the delight of the audience, it did not disappoint. 

The set was filled with well-constructed moving structures and stairs, highlighted by neon lights and signs. The mood of each scene was wonderfully displayed through the staging. The poorer parts of Urinetown were bathed in a warm yellow and red, contrasting with the stark blue and cool tones of the wealthy district. 

The vivid use of color extended to more than the lighting. The wardrobe department did an excellent job conveying the deep divide between wealthy and impoverished characters, with the ridiculously rich dressed up in creatively dramatic suits and dresses. A particularly exaggerated example was the main character Hope’s costume, which featured massive, bright pink shoulder spikes on an overcoat that added a comedic element to her more physical scenes.

In contrast, the poorer characters were dressed in beige, dirty, and tattered clothing, incorporating occasional bright pops of color in accessories or makeup.

Urinetown, a town with a horrible drought and restrictions that force people to “pay for the privilege to pee,” can only be described as a dystopian society. It represents the  relevant issues of unchecked power, capitalism, and the subsequent lack of equality. The actors used pointed looks at the audience and comedic timing to emphasize the modern-day relevance of the plot throughout the show, giving way to laughs all around.

The show itself started off with the narrator and police officer named Lockstock, played by Kirby Duncan,  a BHS freshman, giving a short monologue introducing the show and the town. Through every moment of the show’s two-hour run, the cast perfectly portrayed the deeper political meaning of the show, maintaining chaotic satire and humor.

The comical “Don’t Be a Bunny” musical number was a standout, filled with hilariously choreographed, perfectly synchronized bunny hopping. Another memorable moment was the last few minutes of the show, as the audience watched the end of Urinetown – narrated by yet another superb monologue from Officer Lockstock. While certainly not the happiest ending in musical theater history, the ensemble members did an admirable job representing the grim consequences of a drought. 

Atticus Labang

Still, the most successful part of the show was the cast itself. There were multiple apparent moments thrown in during the show that the actors created or improvised themselves. An audience favorite was a shocking stage kiss at the end of Act Two, which multiple actors said was their personal favorite moment in the show.

The idea for the kiss was created by actors Duncan and Arjun Hermon, a BHS freshman, who played Officer Barrel. They created the idea offstage and then implemented it in the performance. “Me and Kirby are friends,” Hermon said. “So we were just like, ‘oh, you know what’d be really funny right there?’”

Throughout all of the song and dance numbers, the ensemble were nearly always engaged and in character, constantly acting even if they weren’t the principal focus of the scene. Each cast member genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves. Jamie Grace, a BHS sophomore who played the role of Soupy Sue, an excitable poor character, mentioned the moment where they all broke character and started laughing on stage. 

“Every single one of us on stage broke during the song ‘Run Freedom Run’ because one person couldn’t stop laughing in the crowd and it was throwing all of us off,” Grace said. “(It) could’ve been better. But I think it was definitely good we had that energy tonight.”

The hard work, effort, spirit, and time that was put into the show was evident in every moving moment and line. Whether it was Sam Van Ausdall Canny – who played the lead Bobby Strong, belting out song lyrics – or Lilah Wolfson-Hecht – who brought a smile to people’s faces every time she came onstage as the curious, but ironically hilarious, Little Sally – the energy was undeniable.

“It’s been such a consistent thing to look forward to,” said Berkeley High School junior Sophie Novick-Prucher, who played the role of Senator Fipp in the musical. “Even when rehearsals were hard and long and kind of a slog at times, as they always are, I could just count on the fact that I would get to go to rehearsal after school … I think it has made my year exponentially better.”

All throughout the dazzling performance, the Urinetown cast and BHS stagecraft department showcased their passion for the show. The audience experienced a confusing, chaotic, and  wonderful spectacle with a surprisingly deep message that they  won’t forget.