Wednesday, July 18, 2012

In the Words SYC Students - Bryce Bowden

Summer Youth Conservatory actor Bryce Bowden shares a little of his experience with the Conservatory and Urinetown: The  Musical and why he's an actor!

Urinetown: The Musical will be showing July 19 - July 22
Click Here for more information.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Exuberance in Urinetown

By: Mark Lewis, Music Director

"It's a show."
"Urine, as in, like ...?"
"Yeah.  The music's great." [Actual conversation I had.]

Today we're rehearsing "Snuff That Girl", so naturally everyone is in a good mood. The juvenile delinquent faction of the rebels has kidnapped the boss' daughter. She's tied up. A mean jazz beat starts.

"Cops will be here
Bustin' heads
Mighty quick
But we'll beat them to the punch
when we snuff out that chick"
Drum solo. 

Look! It's the hero. It's Bobby Strong. How'd he get here? We've moved on to "Run, Freedom, Run".

The hits just keep comin'.

The cast stands by while the director talks to the choreographer. Like me, they can't wait to do the song, a high energy gospel satire. I admire their patience. The cast is all high school age actors.

Oh no, it's hand claps in theater! They always get off the beat, it's inevitable.

I'm playing away, the cast is circling behind me chanting “Hallelujah!”

I was going to tell them to sing out with exuberance - but I wouldn't have been heard. Not with all this exuberance around.
Urinetown: The Musical will be showing July 19 - July 22
Click Here for more information.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Choreographing Urinetown: The Musical

By: Missy Barnes, Choreographer

Urinetown is one of my all-time favorite musicals. The first time I heard the cast recording, I laughed out loud. At first hearing, I was particularly amused by the musical references to such classics as Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, Les Miz, and The Threepenny Opera.

Inspiration for "What is Urinetown?"
Inspiration for "Follow Your Heart"
Inspiration for Act 1 Finale in Urinetown 
Inspiration for "Privilege to Pee"

On one level, Urinetown can be seen as a tribute to the well-structured musical of the mid-twentieth century. It contains everything you could imagine a good story needs: a hero, a villain, a love story, and a struggle between two diverse groups of people. The songs are evenly spaced throughout the play in the tradition of Guys and Dolls and Hello, Dolly! In addition to the great music, the script is witty and intelligent. It offers the perfect blend of comedy and social commentary, dealing with such issues as environmental concerns and social Darwinism. Unlike the classics of the American musical theatre, the play offers a plot twist toward the end of Act II which reminds us that Urinetown is indeed a unique piece of theatre

Working on the musical for the second time has been a great pleasure. I love the creativity and excitement that exists within the production team. It is such a joy to work with a group who constantly strives for excellence and is always open to new possibilities. The Paul Green Theatre offers a wonderful challenge in terms of creating choreography because there are so many areas in which staging can occur, including through the aisles near the audience. The cast is talented, enthusiastic, dedicated, and great fun to work with. I cannot imagine a more fabulous summer theatre experience than the one I have had working with PlayMakers SYC.
Urinetown: The Musical will be showing July 19 - July 22
Click Here for more information.

In the Words of SYC Students...

What is Urinetown?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Scenic Inspiration for Urinetown

So say some of the characters audiences will soon come to know and love when Urinetown: The Musical comes to the PlayMakers stage. As the production begins to take shape, we look at some of the influencing factors for the face of the show: architecture ranging from Art Deco, to Brechtian, to Depression Era.

An example of Art Deco style.

The Astrodome in Houston after its participation in relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina victims.

The set for a production of Bertolt Brecht's The Good Woman of Szechwan

Juxtaposition of the run-down countryside with the distant Capitol.

A sneak peek of the actual Urinetown set.

A close-up on the Urinetown set. This is the Urine Good Company logo with clear Deco influence.


Urinetown: The Musical will be showing July 19, 2012 - July 22, 2012
Click Here for more information.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Costuming Urinetown: The Musical

By Jade Bettin, Costume Designer

This is my fourth time costuming for the Summer Youth Conservatory and while I am proud of each of the others, I find myself incredibly excited to see the costumes for Urinetown: The Musical onstage. Perhaps it's because I've been incredibly fortunate to have such a great team ‑ talented theatre tech students and amazingly generous volunteers ‑ working in the costume shop to realize my vision for the show.

That vision began with a collection of images presented to me by one of the directors, Jeff Stanley. The pictures ranged from Depression Era images of men and women standing in bread lines to President Skroob from the Mel Brooks movie, Spaceballs.

Costume research materials
Mel Brooks as President Skroob in Spaceballs

Jeff, Adam Dill (assistant costume designer and costume shop manager extraordinaire), and I really focused in on the juxtaposition that exists in the play between the haves and have nots ‑ groups the directors had dubbed the "Cladwellians" and the "townies". It's a contrast that existed quite starkly in the 1930s and a reality that resonates today in the chants of "we are the 99%". So as a designer I was drawn to the silhouettes of the 1930s, but didn't want to make the look so foreign as to suggest that this was only an issue way back when.

Of course with the Summer Youth Conservatory, we're outfitting a cast of about 30 (if you include the costumed musicians). Consider that some of the actors play both townies and Cladwellians and you have a lot of pairs of shoes. (Or two miss-matched shoes in the case of Little Becky Two Shoes.) With the exception of a handful of pieces, most of what will be seen onstage is pulled from our own costume storage, altered to fit the actor, and then in the case of the townies, made to look as if they haven't washed their clothes in twenty years. All this definitely makes for a flurry of activity in the costume shop.

Costume fitting for SYC actor Bryce Bowden

Urinetown: The Musical will be showing July 19 - 22, 2012
Click Here for more information.

Costuming Inspiration for Urinetown

This year's summer youth conservatory production, Urinetown: The Musical, is a classic tale of the haves and the have-nots. Costumes have a Depression Era feel to them with added Brechtian comedy and caricature. When preparing for design meetings, co-director Jeff Stanley pulled these images to illustrate the look he and co-director Julie Fishell were hoping to communicate.

Yes maam. He were
Cartoon from the British satirical magazine Punch.

Inspiration for the more affluent cast members of Urinetown.

Inspiration for the less fortunate cast members of Urinetown.


Urinetown: The Musical will be showing July 19, 2012 - July 22, 2012
Click Here for more information.

Monday, July 9, 2012

SYC Is an Important Experience

So here we are a week away from tech for Urinetown: The Musical, and the young people who are part of this year’s SYC are doing a FANTASTIC job. Watching them intersect with our professional company of artists, artisans and stage managers has been incredible, and I am thrilled for the experience they are having.
We forget sometimes that the theatre can do for young people what we know that sports can also provide. Teamwork, collaboration, empowerment, time-management skills, preparation and discipline are all life-skills being developed through this program and will serve these young people very well in whatever career they end up choosing for themselves.
We have taken our time to figure out how best to serve the young people in our region, and after a year off to study how to be most impactful, we are excited for this year’s performance and the structure of the entire SYC program which includes Theatre Quest for younger students, and a rehearsal and performance component for the older students. We have combined this with a technical production unit, so that we are serving multiple groups in targeted ways.
The SYC is as important a part of PlayMakers work as anything else we do and I can’t wait to see the results of all of their hard work.
See you at the theatre!

Joseph Haj,
Producing Artistic Director

Urinetown:The Musical will be showing July 19, 2012 - July 22, 2012
Click Here for more information.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

SYC's Urinetown: The Musical is an NBC 17 "Hot Pick"

Our 2012 Summer Youth Conservatory's production of Urinetown: The Musical has been chosen as a "Hot Pick" for July. Fun for the whole family! Stay tuned to the blog for upcoming posts from PlayMakers Producing Artistic Director Joseph Haj, Costume Designers Jade Bettin and Adam Dill,  and Urinetown surprise guest bloggers!

Tickets for Urinetown: The Musical are on sale now. CLICK HERE to purchase online or call our Box Office (M-F 10-4) to purchase by phone. Adults $15; Children $10; PlayMakers Season Ticket Holders $13

Urinetown: The Musical runs from July 19-22. Thurs-Sat @ 7:30pm; Sun @ 2:00pm