Every seat in the theater was taken and anticipation was building up in the audience. On Wednesday Oct. 10, Redwood students put on their first production of Urinetown, a comedic satire originally written by Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann about capitalism and corporate management. The production time was short as the cast only worked on it for six weeks. The play is set in a town that has gone through a serious drought, forcing the citizens to pay to use the bathroom. These rules are enforced by the evil Caldwell B. Cladwell, played by senior Ellah Chapman, owner of the Urine Good company. He is the one who charges for the use of all restrooms. Those who fail to pay get sent away to a place called Urinetown. Eventually, the people in the town revolt and fight for their right to be able to “Pee for Free!”
In the end, they defeat Cladwell with the help of his righteous daughter, Hope Cladwell, played by junior Natalia Siri. However, as the play comes to a close, it is revealed to the audience that Caldwell B. Cladwell was actually working to conserve the little water that remained in the town. Ironically, under Hope Cladwell’s rule, the town died of dehydration.
Play director Gillian Eichenberger was inspired to recreate the play at Redwood due to its relevance in the politics of our nation today.
“The current political climate lends itself to a piece like this. It’s kind of in the dark and funny style of The Daily Show in that it’s taking the themes of what we’re seeing in the news and making them funny. But then, it ends with awareness and being active and awake to what’s going on around you,” Eichenberger said.
Although the cast only had a few weeks of rehearsal before opening night, they became very close with one another. According to Siri, bonding with her cast was a huge factor in enhancing her experience in this performance and theater as a whole.
“In the drama program, at Redwood especially, you become a huge family. I like to say a ‘little happy drama family.’ You have this system of people that always support you and you do all these different projects with them throughout the year, so you’re constantly bonding and making new best friends, which is what I think really cool about this [program],” Siri said.
Eichenberger noted the close connections of the cast as well, and felt it added to the show’s success and the relationships between the characters in the play itself.
“They work together as a group, just supporting each other with finding the ridiculousness in their own characters and pushing it out of each other…They all had these great moments with each other, reacting and building the suspense of the piece through the energy that they had together,” Eichenberger said.
Chapman was happy with the collaboration between cast members, but still believes there is room for improvement.
“A lot of us were nervous [for the opening night performance], because that’s how first shows go, but I think it went well because we all tried our best. The band and us, we weren’t really at our peak because we haven’t rehearsed [together] a lot, but it was good enough to perform with them and I think it sounded great nonetheless,” Chapman said.
Aside from this issue, Eichenberger noted how the cast has developed their characters individually.
“There’s more depth of character, and I’m seeing more of their relationships to each other…[and] how they relate to each other in the scene…The [citizens] are this kind of unit of people that hang out all the time, so representing that they all have a close relationship to one another is important,” Eichenberger said. “There’s also so many jokes and funny little clever lines. I feel like they’re coming out even more; it’s like they’re uncovering buried treasures.”
The character development allowed for the plot to unfold smoothly and created suspense. As Act One came to a close, the audience’s claps and cheers roared through the theater. Hope Cladwell was just kidnapped by the spearhead of the revolution, and boy she loved, Bobby Strong, played by junior Spencer McConnell, and the townspeople held her for ransom.
Actors of all grades were on stage as the curtain closed. These drama productions give classmates the opportunity to connect with students in other grade levels, something Chapman finds to be a great aspect to the program.
“I feel like I’ve finally got to meet a lot of younger drama students which is really important to me because when I was younger, I loved the seniors and they were really cool but I felt like there was a barrier because they were really cool seniors. But I feel like I’m no better than these younger kids and I just really like to be friendly with them, ” Chapman said.
Eichenberger as well found that the relationships across all grades had a positive impact on the energetic and supportive nature of the cast as they worked to get each other out of their comfort zones.
“[The cast] is really helping each other along, egging each other on and keeping the energy up. They are pushing each other to go further and finding more moments and encouraging one another to go bigger. It’s so supportive in that way because it’s such a crazy, stupid, silly show, but it has to be big, so when they get to that level and keep pushing each other, [the play] gets funnier and funnier,” Eichenberger said.
The play is being shown at seven tonight, and the final show is Saturday, Oct. 13.