‘Urinetown’ an eye-opening but fresh experience


The Appalachian Online

Liz Flamming

Coinciding with Homecoming Weekend, the Appalachian Musical Theatre Ensemble will present the multi-award-winning musical satire “Urinetown.”

Renown for its fresh perspective and biting wit, the musical is directed by theater and dance lecturer Derek Davidson and consists of 28 Appalachian State University students from a variety of academic majors.     

Theatre and dance professor Keith Martin said the fresh and hilarious musical satirizes everything from capitalism and bureaucracy to musical theatre itself. However, while the musical may address serious social and political issues, the performance remains carefree and funny throughout, including many references to other famous musicals such as “West Side Story” and “Fiddler On The Roof” that are sure to delight theater aficionados.

Davidson has been directing plays and musicals since 1989 and said “Urinetown” is one of his favorites.

“It’s really funny and very light-hearted, but it’s also very trenchant,” Davidson said. “It’s about no water, conservation and big business in a tongue-and-cheek way.”

Davidson said the musical speaks to the humor of this generation of students with its playful cynicism.

“It’s not depressingly bitter, and yet it’s very eye-opening,” Davidson said. “It’s so clever, but also people will be really proud to see their fellow students are so freaking talented.”

One of Davidson’s “freaking talented” performers in the spotlight is Leia Gearhart, a sophomore secondary english education major. Gearhart plays the callous, yet perhaps secretly kind-hearted, Penelope Pennywise, and has found her experience in “Urinetown” both unique and amazing.

Gearhart said in the past it has taken months for the cast and crew begin to “mesh,” but with the Musical Theatre Ensemble, after only one month of preparation, she feels that the cast of “Urinetown” have already bonded. The actress said being in this particular musical is a bit like being in ten different musicals at once.

“It’s a mixture of genres,” Gearhart said. “It’s different because I’ve never done anything so dark, yet so funny.”

Gearhart believes “Urinetown” is a way for many talented students to shine.

“If you want to experience true talent and go to something that’s going to put you on the edge of your seat, then this is the play to go to,” Gearhart said.

“Urinetown” will be showing at 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 11 and at 2 p.m. on Oct. 12 in Broyhill Music Center’s Rosen Concert Hall. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 the door, and can be purchased in the Valborg Theatre Lobby. Tickets can also be purchased an hour before each performance.

Story: Liz Flamming, Intern A&E Reporter