MTC presents spring musical production Urinetown

STAFF WRITER Amy Zhang

The Methacton Theatre Company hosted its red carpet premiere for the spring musical production Urinetown on May 27.

Urinetown is a satirical comedy musical held in a water-less dystopian future where townspeople cope with being required to pay to pee under capitalistic companies and a corrupt government. Its message can be interpreted in a variety of different ways, but the main reason it was chosen was to give theatergoers a laughable and lighthearted show, strung with an absurd plotline.

“I wanted us to laugh,” said Director Mary Fitzgerald. “After such a hard year, I thought it was most important to enjoy ourselves [and] to get lost in the silliness and ridiculousness that goes on in the show.”

The final product was in a movie-style format similar to the fall play, but instead of stitching individual scenes from Zoom, the cast was able to perform on stage and record full scenes which were edited together by Ms. Remolde and Mr. Hickey. 

Safety and accessibility were concerns that directors had from the onset of the production process, but the theater company was able to work around these issues with virtual auditions and both in-person and virtual rehearsals. According to Mrs. Fitzgerald, this hybrid model allowed for greater flexibility and allowed everyone to be involved, regardless of obstacles hindering in-person availability. All cast members participated in the recording process at the end. 

Although MTC was faced with similar virtual challenges during the production of The Laramie Project, aspects of the process still carried a sense of novelty. Working with musical recordings and live singing was difficult, but Musical Director Mrs. Francisco —along with Julia Brady and Kat Hoehl— recorded and produced multiple parts with sound engineering and audio sequencing programs.

Another challenge that came with onstage rehearsals was abiding by the current health and safety protocols. Allowing masked cast members to take full air exchanges while singing, taking “breathers” and breaks when necessary and maintaining everyone’s safety were a priority, but these added accommodations brought upon decreased music rehearsal time. 

Although rehearsal time was cut down by a few minutes, the cast worked through it to deliver a stunning show, according to Fitzgerald. The theatre company also embraced social distancing and incorporated it into the show. For example, every time someone was arrested, they were restrained by hula hoops instead of handcuffs, and when Bobby and Hope listen to each other’s hearts, they used stethoscopes. These changes, while serving as gags in the show, helped them adapt to current times while staying true to the storyline.

With the vastly augmented productions during the 2020-2021 school year, the Theatre Company rose to the occasion and rallied to create art despite restrictions and challenges. After producing three successful productions with The Laramie Project, the WPG performance, and the final musical Urinetown to cap this year, Fitzgerald and Francisco concur that while it was a gratifying yet trying experience, they hope no company ever needs to go through something like it again. 

Senior Maria Coyle, who played Hope Cladwell and is a spirit officer of the MTC shared her thoughts about her final performances this year. 

“It was very bittersweet [but] I think we definitely made the best out of what we had this year, even though it wasn’t a traditional experience.”

Francisco noted that a major difference between live shows and pre-recorded shows was the instantaneous ending. As opposed to watching productions unfold in real-time, this year, she was able to sit and watch. Even as the new virtual format allowed for perfection before the actual premiere, nothing compares to the live performances, as stated by Francisco. Additionally, several cast members noted that they were missing critical aspects of live showbiz, like final curtain calls and a live orchestra. 

Junior Quinn Adams, who played the role of Bobby Strong, expressed his hopes of a maskless and live show renewal for his senior year productions in the upcoming school year. 

“If it’s masks again, I’m not doing it. I’m gonna be honest. [It is] just totally different watching it on a screen versus actually performing it live.”

Fitzgerald and Francisco look to the future for the revival of oft-coveted live shows. And with the current state of affairs, it is likely this dream ought to become a reality for next year.