DIS drama club director urges community to keep an open mind about spring musical
Imagine this: It is 20 years in the future and for the past two decades, the country has experienced an extreme drought. The water shortage is so severe that it has led to a government ban on private toilets, resulting in the rapid growth of paid public toilets owned by a monopolistic firm known as “the Urine Good Company.” If the poor do not follow the strict laws that prohibit free urination, they will be sent to the feared and mysterious “Urinetown.” This peculiar storyline is that of the three-time Tony Award winning musical “Urinetown,” which Daniel Island Drama, Daniel Island School’s drama club, is set to perform next weekend. The musical, which premiered in 2001, is an American satirical, dark comedy created by Mark Holloman and Greg Kotis. The production follows the story of Urine Good Company owner Caldwell B. Cladwell’s daughter Hope Cladwell, played by eighth grader Ella Cooper, who falls in love with the leader of the poor, Bobby Strong, played by eighth grader Ryan Hinske. The two, along with many from the poor community, lead a revolution against the tyrant company in hopes of regaining the freedom to pee “wherever you like, whenever you like, for as long as you like and with whomever you like.” While the name may not be the most appealing, Lauren Canfield, the production’s director and the middle school chorus and drama teacher, urged parents and community members to look past the title. “I’m hoping everyone comes with an open mind and kind of a light heart. None of it is meant seriously,” said Canfield. “…It has great music. It won a Tony Award. I’ve never known a middle school music theatre department to have done it successfully. If they want to see something really special and really unique, they should come to Daniel Island School and see this show.” What makes this musical even more unique, is that the musical numbers parody various other famous musical numbers from other musicals, explained Canfield. “We’ve got a little ‘West Side Story,’” said Canfield. “We’ve got a little ‘Les Miserables.’ We’ve got a little ‘Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat’ from ‘Guys and Dolls.’ It should hit a little taste of what everybody likes.” When deciding on what production the club would do this year, Canfield felt that it was time to try something a little more difficult. Having worked with those in the lead cast for many previous shows, she felt that the students were ready to be pushed. “I felt like we were ready for a challenge and I felt like our audience was ready for a challenge,” said Canfield. “I’ve been here for nine years and have kind of groomed the kids to be ready to push them a little bit further. It was time to push. Hopefully, we won’t fall off the edge.” From briefly chatting with the lead cast, it is easy to see that this is not your average middle school drama club. The knowledge conveyed and language used throughout each of their answers clearly illustrated their passion for the art and commitment to the production. Hinsky, an eight show veteran at DIS, explained that the most difficult part of the production for him was learning the choreography. This is no surprise, as Canfield brought in a professional choreographer from Atlanta for the first time in the club’s history. “We’ve never done anything as difficult as this production because of the choreography,” said Hinske. “The range is also very hard. I want to see how the audience reacts to that.” For eighth grader Lilly Kate Cobb, who has been in six previous production and plays the role of Little Sally, the audience’s response is also what she is looking forward to the most. “I’m excited for the audience and want to see their reactions,” said Cobb. “I know it’s kind of a weird title, but I think once people come they’ll see it and actually think it is a cool idea…It means a lot to all of us in the cast. We’re all working towards the same goal. I just want to put it out there and see everyone’s reactions.” Eighth grade student Marshall Fleming, who plays the narrator Officer Lockstock, is excited to interact with the audience. “I’m your breaking the fourth-wall character,” said Fleming. “I get to sit in the audience. I get to go mess around in the pit. It’s really a lot of fun.” Daniel Island Drama will put on three shows of “Urinetown.” The productions will take place Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17 from 7 to 9 p.m. and Sunday, March 18 from 3 to 5 p.m. Tickets are available for $5, $10 and $20 at disdrama.seatyourself.biz. “Come out and see the show,” added Cooper. “It’s going to be the best show they’ve ever seen at Daniel Island School.” Other lead cast members include eighth grader Brady Bishop who plays the role of Officer Burrell, eighth grader Charlotte Francis who plays the role of Penelope Pennywise, and Ben Ball, who plays the role of Caldwell B. Cladwell.