By Reilly Kneedler
The best shows – whether they be movies, television or live theater – incorporate a healthy dose of contrast.
The protagonist to the antagonist, the ebb and flow of a good-versus-evil plotline; contrast captivates an audience like no other single element of production.
Eastmont drama club’s latest venture, “Urinetown,” beautifully incorporates a level of contrasting elements that play out to near-perfection at times.
The play itself, written by Greg Kotis, is fairly new. First put into production in 2001, it snagged a Tony for best book — rightfully so.
The plot deals with a dystopian society that is in the midst of a decades-long drought. Forced to conserve water, a malicious company bans private toilets and charges a steep tax on public “amenities” which are the only ones available to the town.
However let’s start with the title: instant repulsiveness is conjured in the reader’s mind.
It should be noted that the topic of one’s “private business” is kept quite PG throughout the course of the show.
In fact the storyline tackled that problem directly with a refreshing self-aware and self-deprecating approach, even addressing the unappealing nature of the title within the actors’ lines.
If there was a downfall to the script, it was that it was just too clever.
“Urinetown” is really just a crossroads of memorable singing and continuous puns.
Some of those puns are woven into the tapestry of the script so well that they have a chance of buzzing right over the heads of the audience. In that way, the play serves as a basic intelligence test: which of the more “heady” puns will your neighbor actually wrap his or her mind around? How does that saying go again… something about he who laughs last?
As far as the acting in this production: sublime is the only accurate term.
A plethora of underclassman talent has finally graced the ranks of the now-renowned Eastmont senior class.
Names that have appeared in countless playbills over the past few years — Sean Ward, Emma Standerford and Austin Flory — are now side by side with some younger actors that one should be sure to look out for in future productions.
Mitchell Woodbury slam dunked the second appearance of his high school career. Woodbury stars as Cladwell B. Cladwell, a cliche villain if there ever was one. His confidence on stage matched with a strong, floating vocal performance was a box checked in most audience members’ minds.
Contrastly, Tea’ Ning LaFleur presented a character known as Little Sally that worked perfectly as relief to the strong male roles that dominated the lineup. Her performance is made all the more impressive after learning she recently moved to the area after spending nine years living in China.
The cast of “Urinetown” recruited successfully from not just the junior high, but also from across the river. Freshman Chris Danko, a name some may remember from Wenatchee High School’s Janice Franz Talent Show, had a relatively small but memorable role as an Officer Barrell.
Lights, stage, color
The performances presented by the “Urinetown” cast were beautifully complemented by the backdrops and stage lighting. With a title such as this play maintains, it is hardly surprising that a fairly muted yellow-brown color pallette would nominate each scene.
However the pale yellow lights paired with a glimmer of green or gold here and there cast a very warm, inviting overlay on the stage. Pair that with another overall beige backdrop — which was two tiered, allowing for more dynamic character entrances and exits — and the actors themselves drew the rightful attention of the audience’s eyes.
As a “frequent flyer” of Eastmont High School drama productions, I can comfortably say that this is the best one I have been to, by a good margin. It was — and please forgive me — definitely not a flusher.