Sunday, November 20, 2005

Urinetown

Stumptown Stages
November 17, 2005; closes December 18, 2005

An invigorating wake-up call for Portland musical theatre. Sparse production elements bowed to precise, bing-bang-booming performances through meticulous satire parody of Wade Willis, rafter-shaking vocals of Lori Paschall, endearing Brian Bartley, crisply-comical Courtney Freed, goofy Shawn Rogers, slippery James Peppers, gumdrop Joy Fischer, exceptional ensemble. Fortissimo four-piece band occasionally too loud.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Vocals got lost too frequently underneath the orchestra, especially when actors went for the low notes. I could understand about half of what Corey Brunish sang. And, I hate to say it, but the material is insipid even by musical theater standards.

Anonymous said...

I missed a lot of what Corey sang, too, but for others -- like Lori -- wasn't it nice to have a musical where the voices came from actors on the stage rather than some sound speakers in the ceiling?

Follow Spot said...

For the record, I should note that I saw what was labeled a preview, though there were other press there the same evening.

Anonymous said...

OK I'm all for Barebones theatre but for $25 a pop???? Set looked like it was designed for a HS production. Nice to see all those PDX theatre stalwarts (Brunish, Daum, Rogers, Willis), B-listers (Hollcraft, Paschall,Freed, Rooney, Peppers, Overcast,Lawson)and newcomers(Bartley,Fischer,Kleig,Lamb,Shaw)being used however. All that Great talent (I'd love to see what this cast could do w/ something good) but not enuff bang for my buck!

Equally Anonymous said...

"B-Listers"? Jesus.

Dan said...

Yeah, that's what I'm asking. B-listers? Who in Portland is an A-lister? I know it was probably an innocent off-the-cuff qualifier, but what an absurd thought! Some people in this town get more work because they fit a number of types and they have enough in their bag of tricks to keep directors wanting more. But, it's a far stretch to say that there's a celebrity list heirarchy of Portland actors.

a.s. said...

oh, of course there is! don't be silly....We know who the A-listers are! And we know what Theatre's get 'em! I'm just going to assume that by "B-list," anon. merely meant "underappreciated talent."

Dan said...

I don't think it's so much an "A-list" Hollywood-based thing as it is laisez-faire "calling it in" directors who don't want to take the time to really cast a play. Far too often, they rely on the sure things they worked with before rather than "waste" time looking through Portland's pool of talent for the right actor for the part. It's really an industry trend that far exceeds Portland's wet boundaries.

Brian Rooney said...

I'm just happy to be on any list. I guess that's what keeps me a "b-list"er. Unfortunately, I can't take an annonymous person's comments as meaningful anyway - guess I'll have to wait for someone with a persona to categorize me.

BB said...

I heard there have been some cast changes -- does anyone know how the understudies are doing?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where i can view photos from this production?

RonDaum said...

The "cast changes" involve Understudies/alternates that have been with the project from the start. Two had been playing other roles and switched roles (so they actually learned two roles). The other three were standbys through out the run. They are all doing terrific and commendable work.

Lori said...

Photo's can be viewed here: http://stumptownstages.com/meetthecast.html

Jeremiah said...

I saw this again today (a sold-out house) and it's better than ever. One more weekend, so if you've been thinking about seeing "Urinetown," now's the time to go. (yuck, yuck, yuck -- I got a million of 'em)

No, seriously -- the sound/music balance has improved, and even the understudies are top-notch.

Anonymous said...

We interrupt this thread to point out the following: URINETOWN is a GREAT show and you will have a really FUN time. Don't miss it! "This is URINETOWN, your ticket should say URINETOWN..."

Anonymous said...

Lori Paschall's voice is something else! Wow. Many good performances here. I spent a lot of time watching Joey Klei's hilarious facial tics.

stageleftjt said...

Pachall is indeed a high-point. . . but i didn't see Klei's antics as a positive - very over-the-top and hard to ignore when I was trying to focus on the actual show.

Overall, though, LOVED it - great production value for a brand new company. Great to see folks in charge who have such good sensibilities.

Far too often in PDX, companies seem to lack attention to detail. This is frequently brushed aside as a function of budget, but I don't buy that. Directors and designers with real vision - real understanding - can create a complete package without gads of money. Stumptown seems to have the chops to do just that. Perhaps it's more that may PDX companies do 1 or 2 things very well, but leave unsightly gaps in other areas. . . Stumptown & its creative team covered bases very well, and the result is a complete experience that is smartly and carefully crafted. Doesn't hurt that they managed to call in favors from an exquisite cast of performers, creating an evenness and punch that buoyed a show that doesn't need much buoying. Bartley sold the idealism with likeable flair, Corey was downright dastardly as Billy Flynn - er, I mean Cladwell.

My only complaint is that I'm not as gaga over Joy Fischer as the rest of the world seems to be. She's obviously gorgeous, and she has a nice voice for a 17 year old. But she is just that - a 17 year old. From my seat, that showed all over the place. I personally know a dozen young actresses in PDX that could have filled the sweater and hair ribbons better. One has to question the motivations for casting an unproven young 'un in a show with so much riding on it. Hmm. . .

Well worth the tocket price - and with another extension in ink, everyone can and should get the chance to see URINETOWN!!

Follow Spot said...

stageleftjt: Sorry to say, but my sources do not confirm this rumour of a second coming.

stageleftjt said...

ugh - you are correct. . . it was in the works, but has been scrapped, I've just been told. . .

Anonymous said...

I agree with stageleftjt. Seeing as I was away on vacation, I didn't get the chance to come back and post here. Pretty impressive for a company's first show, and I'm glad to see they're doing another one. Ron Daum, Brian Bartley, Barbara Hollcraft, Courtney Free, and Susan Overcast all did great work. Really commendable stuff. But again, I keep hearing all this kudos towards Ms. Joy Fischer. I'll give her that she's pretty, but thats all I was really drawn to. I think that the company could have found a much more suited young actress. Fischer was good in Bye Bye Birdie when I caught her in that, but she played a giddy teenager. Thats all I can really see her doing. And she had a pretty voice, not a stunning voice. I just find it a coincidence that there is another Fischer on the board over at Stumptown, and I've heard around town that her mother is dating one of the directors there? Coincidence? Just thought I'd bring that up. But overall really great performance, kudos to Stumptown for successfully starting up a new theater program! Hope you all stay afloat!

Anonymous said...

Saw the PCC Sylvania production of URINETOWN last weekend. I enjoyed it - definitely worth seeing and different from the Stumptown Stages production.

However, one problem. PCC used amplification in their show. Everyone had those litte microphones over one ear, and they would come on during the songs. Sounded very uneven - static and crackling.

I wanted to pay yet another compliment to the Stumptown Stages production for NOT using amplification. In fact, if you were in the front few rows at the IFCC you may have found yourself in need of a mute button or one of those headsets the guys wear on runways, so strong were the voices! AWESOME!!!

It is a beautiful thing when the human voice can fill the hall and make people cover their ears! Lori Paschall and many others showed us how this can be done. I don't know the logistics with the PCC space - is amplification a foregone conclusion in a venue that size? Surely with some more lung power (and quieter band) you could make yourself heard there.

Amplification just does not sound as good - at least it didn't here. I left the show wanting to hear the Stumptown crew belt out "This is Urinetown!" just one more time - even if I had to put my fingers in my ears!

Surely there are a few windows around here that could use breaking...

Ravioli said...

Late to discover this board, but I enjoyed the review and agree with lots of you--so great to hear real voices from real bodies! Looking forward to the next production from this company.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think we all know the only reason Joy Fischer got cast in this is because her mother is dating the director.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think we all know the only reason Joy Fischer got cast in this is because her mother is dating the director.