Well, it's over. New Line's Urinetown has closed, after an incredibly successful run, selling out a bunch of shows, getting rave reviews and the nicest compliments from our audiences. What a big fucking Joy it is to work on material this smart, this well-crafted, this ballsy. I sure wish I made more money than I do, but I wouldn't trade my job for anything!
One guy who saw the show told us that he had seen it off Broadway, before it moved uptown, and that our production was the closest he's ever seen, in style, attitude, etc., to that very first Urinetown. I can't imagine a nicer compliment. With shows like this one, the Number One Goal is to figure out what the authors intended and then communicate that as clearly as possible to our audience. I think we passed that test with flying colors. A lot of companies produce shows, but not too many of them really try to understand them in a deep, serious way. We may have a small budget and sometimes less-than-accommodating resources, but we are all serious artists trying to tackle some of the biggest questions of our times, and that's worth something.
As I've said to Matt Korinko (Officer Lockstock), none of my Big Ideas, none of my crazy staging experiments, none of my rule-busting would mean squat without first-rate, fearless performers to make those ideas come to life. This cast of 16 was a real gift -- not just strong voices (they sometimes sounded like a choir of thirty!), but also a sense of whimsy and absurdity and joy, and a continual willingness to try anything I suggested. There were so many brilliant moments of inspired lunacy -- moments that came not from me, but from the actors -- that brought this show to wacky, overwhelming life every night.
The Rep, the Muny, the Fox, Stages, they all have bigger budgets, more lavish sets, but they rarely have the intensity, the aggressiveness, the fearlessness, and the relentless commitment to adventure that New Line actors have!
I will always be grateful to Matt Korinko (Lockstock) and Amy Leone (Sally) for their genius performances in this show. I can't imagine anyone else in St. Louis so utterly perfect for either role. They worked so hard and had so much fun and brought so much to the process -- most notably, such incredible originality -- and audiences and critics alike just adored them every night. They were the foundation of this show, and a more rock solid foundation we've never had.
Likewise the rest of the cast -- Jeff Pruett as Cladwell (now that's how you play a villain!), Deborah Sharn as Pennywise (tough as fuckin' nails!), Aaron Allen as McQueen (a truly gifted actor who makes every role seem as if no one else has ever played it), Khnemu and Isabel as our Young Lovers (such joy, such wackiness, such freedom to play), Nick Kelly, our resident Funny Man as a really creepy Senator Fipp (no one does creepy better than Nick), and the rubber-faced and -bodied Joe Garner, ever-surprising, as Barrel...
And then there's the ensemble. I have to thank Aaron Lawson -- most actors would've freaked out when presented with a sock puppet (Billy Boy Bill's only surviving family), but he embraced it fully and made it such an integrated -- and strangely subtle -- part of the fucked-up fabric of this world. Tripp and Katie so fully embraced their sociopathic characters that "Snuff That Girl" was every bit as unsettling and disturbing as it was funny. Cale and Zach as our resident Thugz and Set Rotators were both solid ensemble performers but also hilarious (and such fun to hang with)! And Michelle and Leah managed not to get overshadowed by the other lunatics and, thank God, hit all those high notes...
I'm proud of all our shows, but for different reasons. Urinetown has been like Hair for me -- we explored it, understood it on a deep level, and then gave it the production it deserved. I can't think of a greater accomplishment.
And now, believe it or not, 9 of the 16 actors in Urinetown are moving on to our next show, Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll: A New Revue. It's rare for us that that many actors from one show go on to the next (we tend to exhaust actors), but I LOVE IT...! Stay tuned...
Long Live the Musical!