Skip to main content

Review of Urinetown The Musical at the Apollo Theatre, London

While I had seen several theatre musicals this year at the local Royal & Derngate, I had yet to experience the full London effect until I settled down in my seat at the Apollo to watch Urinetown. I had grown to like musicals more this year after my first live one Blood Brothers in March and finally decided to make the effort in the big city. Also despite publicity and negative comments regarding the title Urinetown, this made it appeal to me slightly more to my bizarre mind. I am glad I did, what I witnessed was two glorious hours of fun, frolics, dark (very dark) humour, blood, dance and some singing as well. It is a musical.

On arrival in the theatre the set from Soutra Gilmour cuts an imposing, perfect dystopian figure. Tough steel work, dull and grim, perfect. Before the show begins the creepy Officer Lockstock (Jonathan Slinger) starts to prowl the stage and is soon joined by Little Sal (understudy Katie Bernstein on my evening). As the show begins these two break the fourth wall and welcome us to Urinetown, not the place very importantly, the musical. Little Sal gallops forth with hints and too quick progress of the story and Lockstock reins her in. However we are in a world where water shortage has ruled out private toilets and public amenities are the only place to go, to go, as it were.

The whole production from beginning to end for me is one of exceptional quality, filled with both funny and very high quality (and catchy) songs. The full gamut of music is on offer from fast paced songs, to ballads and a most glorious gospel song in the form of "Run, Freedom, Run". Song titles are also a fine purveyor of the darkness on offer, what other West End musical could you listen to "It's A Privilage To Pee" or "Snuff That Girl"? All songs are performed to superbly choreographed pieces by Ann Lee, with so much going on you can never see it all.

Performances from the entire company are excellent throughout. Stand outs are Matthew Seadon-Young as Bobby Strong and Simon Paisley Day as the oily Caldwell B Cladwell, while Slinger and Bernstein hold the piece neatly together with their partly narrating roles. Jenna Russell as Penelope Pennywise also steals the stage whenever she appears.

Returning to the set, I have to say that the revolving section is an inspired idea and used in incredibly inventive ways throughout the whole show. Itself offering an almost constant comedy role to the performers, that it could be a cast member. Quite superb.

For me much like The Play That Goes Wrong could be a perfect play for a reluctant theatre goer to experience, I would have no worry about recommending that this could well be the perfect first show for a reluctant musical goer as well. It shuns off all the soppy, whimsical stuff that many musicals dwell on, while also being a very good musical to boot. The title is dodgy maybe, buts it is only a title, so get over it and go and see a gloriously darkly funny comedy musical.

«««««

Performance viewed: Wednesday 19th November, 2014 at the Apollo, London.

Urinetown The Musical continues is currently booking at the Apollo Theatre, London until 10th January, 2015 but is shortly to go through several cast changes, so to see much of the original cast go soon. Also there is a lot happens high on stage, so seat recommendations from me would be further back stalls or perhaps even better in the circle for perfect viewing.
Details can be found at http://www.urinetown.co.uk/

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Hacktivists by Ben Ockrent performed by R&D Youth Theatre at Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton

The National Theatres Connections series of plays had been one of my highlights of my trips to R&D during 2014. Their short and snappy single act style kept them all interesting and never overstaying their welcome. So I was more than ready for my first encounter with one of this years Connections plays ahead of the main week of performances at R&D later in the year. Hacktivists is written by Ben Ockrent, whose slightly wacky but socially relevant play Breeders I had seen at St James Theatre last year. Hacktivists is less surreal, but does have a fair selection of what some people would call odd. Myself of the other hand would very much be home with them. So we are presented with thirteen nerdy "friends" who meet to hack, very much in what is termed the white hat variety. This being for good, as we join them they appear to have done very little more than hacked and created some LED light device. Crashing in to spoil the party however comes Beth (Emma-Ann Cranston)

Review of Shrek (NMTC) at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

Three and a half years ago, in a land far far away, in a world very different to the one we are now in, I saw the touring professional production of Shrek The Musical , it was a mixed bag of quality, tilted extremely heavily in favour of one particular character (not the one you might expect) and not firing on all cylinders much of the time. One and a half years after my last visit to the Derngate theatre, I return to see the homegrown Northampton Musical Theatre Company's own take on the very same show. Would they be able to breathe more life into the show than the professionals did in that distant land? It is a bit of a yes and no really. Pretty much all of this is done to the best possible standard, and at times, with being an amateur show you could easily forget, they all have normal day jobs. The show oozes professional quality at times. The set looks magnificent, the costumes (from Molly Limpet's Theatrical Emporium) are superb, and as ever with NMTC, the backstage team c

Review of Theft at the Castle Theatre Studio, Wellingborough

The comedy-thriller Theft by Eric Chappell tells the story of an anniversary celebrating couple returning to the devastation of their home being ransacked in a burglary. However, this ransacking pales in comparison to the ransacking of their lives that then occurs as home truths are revealed. Anyone old enough to remember the works of Theft writer Chappell ( Rising Damp and Only When I Laugh ), could be forgiven for thinking that this 1996 play might feel a little dated for a 2021 audience. However, bar a few references much of their time now (the weaker sex and female priests for instance), Theft still feels comfortable in the 2021 world, where many of us just want both a good evening of theatre and a good bit of fun. With Theft from the highly regarded Wellingborough Technical Players, they get just that. The action starts as we find the man of the house John Miles played by Graham Breeze returning, very angry, to his home. He is a rightfully boisterous character, channelling all th