Resident Chicago Production of Urinetown Opens March 26

By Kenneth Jones
March 26, 2006

Urinetown, the Tony-Award winning musical comedy created by Chicago's Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis, opens in its first resident commercial Chicago run March 26 following previews from March 15 at The Mercury Theater.

Tom Mullen directed the first U.S. regional production of the show in a staging in Saugatuck, MI, in summer 2005 and stages and co-produces the Windy City production with the newly formed Blue Dog Entertainment L.L.C.

The Chicago company is a mix of Equity and non-Equity folk. The national tour of the Broadway production of Urinetown is the only staging of the property Chicago has seen prior to this.

The "newly imagined production" has been tailor-made for the historic Mercury Theater. Associate director Matthew Gunnels said in a statement, "The Mercury Theater is the perfect venue for this eagerly-awaited, sitdown production, blending the dynamite architecture of the old nickelodeon into a brand new environmental design."

Nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 2002, and winner for Best Book and Best Score of a Musical, as well as Best Direction (John Rando), Urinetown is the satirical tale of greed, corruption, romance and revolution in a city where water is worth its weight in gold. The show celebrates and spoofs Broadway musical theatre traditions, "poking good-natured fun at everything from corporate greed and politics to boy-meets-girl romance to good-versus-evil."

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The original musical — it's not based on source material — features music and lyrics by Mark Hollmann, book and lyrics by Greg Kotis. The writers have reportedly begun working on a sequel as well as a prequel to Urinetown.

The leading roles of Bobby Strong and Hope Cladwell will be played by Michael Buchanan (national tour, Miss Saigon) and Tamara Spiewak (Broadway's Les Miserables). Other Chicago cast members include Christine Sherrill as Penelope Pennywise; Michael Accardo as Caldwell B. Cladwell; Norm Boucher as Senator Fipp; Jon Frazier as Officer Lockstock; Roni Geva as Little Sally; Rob Lindley as Mr. McQueen; Joseph Anthony Foronda as Old Man Strong and Hot Blades Harry; Nancy Jane Nelson as Ma Strong; Sarah Hayes as Soupy Sue; and Jon Runnfeldt as Tiny Tom. Dan Ferretti, Bil Ingraham, Michael Mahler, Sara Patsy, Maggie Portman, Gerald Richardson, Thomas M. Shea, and Amy Steele comprise the ensemble.

Tom Mullen conceived and directed the world premiere of What a Glorious Feeling, a backstory musical that tells the story of co-directors Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen and the making of "Singin' the Rain," written by Jay Berkow. His other credits include the world premiere of Wicked City by Chad Beguelin and Matt Sklar (the creators of Broadway's The Wedding Singer) and productions of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change and Full Gallop. He was the associate director on the Roundabout Broadway revival of Company.

Musical direction is by Michael Sobie. The creative team includes choreographer Brian Loeffler, scenic designer John Rotonda, lighting designer Jennifer Kules, costume and wig designer Bill Morey and props designer Austin Rodriguez.

Open since February 1996, the Mercury Theater "is an intimate 300-seat theatre that houses a variety of theatrical entertainment including Broadway touring companies, local theatre productions, music and dance showcases and children's theatre."

The schedule for Urinetown is Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 PM, Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 5 & 8:30 PM and Sundays at 5 PM.

Information is available at Hollmann and Kotis' www.urinetown.com site.