‘Urine’ luck: spring musical will be ex’stream’ly entertaining

ETHS students are working hard on and off stage to prepare for ETHS's spring musical: 'Urinetown'

April 20, 2023

Coming this April to the upstairs theater, it’s ETHS’s spring musical, Urinetown! With a talented and dedicated cast and crew of ETHS students and experienced direction from ETHS theater teacher Timothy Herbert, many who are a part of putting together the show are confident that the musical is sure to be a hit.

Although the musical’s title causes many to be skeptical of its quality, Urinetown is much more than its title makes it out to be. The story follows Bobby Strong, a young man rebelling against an evil corporate overlord who forces people to pay to use the bathroom. On his quest to free the public bathrooms from the iron-clad rule of Mr. Cladwell, Bobby navigates police brutality, forbidden love and many other emotionally moving experiences. 

According to director Timothy Herbert, what really sets Urinetown apart is its humor and meta-ness. 

“All the time there are kind of meta theatrical devices being used, and [there is] direct address with the audience. There are characters that really speak to the audience and explain where we are and how it fits into the musical… But it’s mostly jokes,” says Herbert.

For Herbert, the element of humor was a major factor in his decision to pick Urinetown as this year’s musical. Ever since students returned to the building following the COVID-19 pandemic, he has had a preference for fun, light-hearted shows. 

“[Urinetown] is something that is joyous. Since we came back after the pandemic, I really find myself drawn to our shows that are fun. That’s what I want to do right now,” notes Herbert.

Auditions for Urinetown were held the week of Feb. 12, and students showed up for a variety of reasons. They all wanted the experience of participating in a musical, whether they had done it before and enjoyed it, or they wanted to try it for the first time. 

“I’ve never done a musical before in my entire life, and so it was really a daunting decision… but I [realized] that this might be my only chance to ever participate in a musical, so I decided to give it a shot,” explains junior Foster Pratt who plays Officer Lockstock.

Others, like senior Lily Straussman, who plays Penelope Pennywise, auditioned because she felt drawn to a specific character. 

“I really like the character who I ended up getting cast as. I really wanted to play her; she just [seemed] like a really fun character,” states Straussman.

Once auditions and callbacks took place and the cast was chosen, rehearsals began. A lot of rehearsal time is needed for a show as large as Urinetown, and the cast has been putting in long hours to make sure that the musical looks and sounds perfect when they eventually perform in front of audiences. 

“The first two weeks of the rehearsal process are purely for learning all the songs, and then once you’ve learned all the songs you go upstairs to the back classroom and you start learning all the choreography,” says Pratt. “We’ve been doing that for about three weeks now, and it’s really fun… Right now we’re just practicing and practicing, and we’ll continue to keep practicing the dances up until opening night.”

For a cast consisting of students who all missed out on theater experience during the pandemic, perfecting the singing, dancing and acting doesn’t come as easily as it has to students in the past.

“A lot of the students that are in the school right now didn’t have as many opportunities to do musicals compared to any other class that we’ve ever worked with,” remarks Herbert. “They’ve got significantly less experience.”

But what the cast lacks in experience, they make up for in hard work.

“I am so proud of these kids because they are so good, and they sound great and they’re working so hard,” says Herbert.“It’s a long week of rehearsals in addition to school, and they have to stay focused, so I’m just proud of them.”

The students in the cast aren’t the only ones working hard to make sure Urinetown is audience-ready. For weeks, the stage crew has been busy making props, working on lighting and sound, constructing a massive, two-story set and dealing with every other behind-the-scenes detail that helps the show run smoothly. 

Although the work can be demanding, members of stage crew enjoy having a lot on their plate.

“[I] like having more responsibility and more of a leadership role,” says junior Claire Macgowan-Henderson, who runs the sound for Urinetown. “I think [being in charge of] sound for the smaller shows can be a little more boring, because it’s not as demanding, but musicals are very demanding sound wise, so it’s a lot more fun.” 

Because of the tight timeline and numerous responsibilities that the stage crew has, they also need to be able to adapt and learn on the fly.

“These kids who are stage managers, who are in charge of calling all these cues, they only really see the show a handful of times before they go, so they’ve got this really steep learning curve,” says Herbert. “They are incredibly impressive people, they work like dogs trying to build the set and making sure that all the props are ready, then they have to turn around and figure out how the actual play works.” 

With all the hard work put into Urinetown by students on and off the stage, you won’t want to miss out on seeing it live. The cast and crew are dedicated to putting on a hilarious and impactful performance that will be unlike any other musical performed previously at ETHS. Urinetown runs from April 21-22, and April 27-29, so don’t wait to get your tickets!

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