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Wilson High delivers clean fun on ‘Urinetown’

Katie Grooms, a student at South County Secondary School, reviews Woodrow Wilson High School’s “Urinetown” as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

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Emma Haberman, Lisa Femia, Daniel Jordan and Jake Tempchin from Woodrow Wilson High School. (Photo by Judy Licht)

"It's a privilege to pee!" might be the most absurd song in the absurdly titled and themed musical “Urinetown.” But in Woodrow Wilson Senior High School’s adaptation of the popular production, the student performers proved that it take serious skills to pull off even not-so-serious subject matter.

"Urinetown" by playwright and lyricist Greg Kotis and composer and lyricist Mark Hollmann premiered off-Broadway in 2001, before its popularity propelled it to Broadway. It tells the story of a town that has been so affected by a water shortage that private toilets have been banned. As a result, citizens are forced to use public urinals, strictly regulated by the Urine Good Company. The musical pokes fun at everything from small town politics and capitalism to Broadway musicals.

Maggie Roos gives a memorable performance as Little Sally—the co-narrator and adorable sidekick to Officer Lockstock, the narrator, played by Babaak Parcham. Roos's sweet-but-naive nature and strong vocals intrigued audience members. Jake Tempchin stood out with his portrayal of the pompous owner of the Urine Good Company, Caldwell B. Cladwell. With exaggerated facial expressions, vocal range and spot-on comedic timing, Tempchin proved to be an audience favorite.

As a whole, the ensemble’s performance popped. Every character in "The Poor" ensemble performed straight scenes and more upbeat dance numbers with vigor, while also nailing the intricate choreography. Although the large chorus seemed to overwhelm the small stage, the actors made good use of their limited space. While the energetic nature of the show remained consistent throughout, music numbers like "Run, Freedom, Run!" and "Snuff That Girl" jump-started the second act.

Other standout performances included Callie Gonyea as Miss Pennywise, the tough overseer of a filthy urinal, and Emma Haberman as the company owner's daughter Hope Cladwell. Beyond exhibiting powerful vocals, the two performers also showed range. Although some actors lacked enunciation and clarity, it seldom interfered with the Wilson High’s production.

By Katie Grooms, Posted by Mario Iván Oña  |  December 16, 2009; 10:04 AM ET
 | Tags: Cappies 2009  
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