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Published: Thursday, 9/13/2007

Ignore the title and just enjoy

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Rehearsing for the Croswell Opera House production of Urinetown are, in front from left: Jamie Buechele, Jessica Randall,
and Peggy Snead. In the back row, from left: Steve Dietrich, Sarah Nowak, Jesse Montie, Elizabeth Palmer, James Swendsen, Bruce Hardcastle, and Emily Gifford. Rehearsing for the Croswell Opera House production of Urinetown are, in front from left: Jamie Buechele, Jessica Randall, and Peggy Snead. In the back row, from left: Steve Dietrich, Sarah Nowak, Jesse Montie, Elizabeth Palmer, James Swendsen, Bruce Hardcastle, and Emily Gifford.
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"If people can just get past the title, they will find a wonderful show," said director Douglas Miller of his latest production: Urinetown, the Musical!

He called the play, which opens tomorrow in Adrian's Croswell Opera House, "fun, delightful, and fanciful."

Written by Mark Holliman and Greg Kotis, this musical parody opened on Broadway in 2001 and ran for more than 900 performances, in the process winning several Theatre World and Tony awards, including best original score.

"It has the universal themes of rich vs. poor, downtrodden vs. the fat cats," said Miller, a professor of theater at Siena Heights University in Adrian.

The action is set in a Gotham-like city that is so plagued by drought that private toilets have been banned. The public facilities have been privatized, and the greedy corporation that runs them keeps raising the admission fees.

This leads to one man's decision to start a pee-for-free revolution.

The absurd premise really serves as a metaphor for health care, the mortgage crisis, and other societal ills, Miller said. "The show speaks to who we are and what we want out of life."

The cast is led by Croswell veterans Michael Yuen of Adrian (Beauty and the Beast, Godspell, Proof) as the hero, Bobby Strong, and Bruce Hardcastle of Brooklyn, Mich., (Pirates of Penzance, Oklahoma, The Scarlet Pimpernel) as the corporate villain Caldwell B. Cladwell.

Nancy Scully of Adrian plays Cladwell's daughter, Hope, who falls in love with Bobby, and Stephanie Stephan of Toledo is Penelope Pennywise, a tough urinal gatekeeper with a shocking secret.

Others key members of the cast are John McNaughton of Adrian, Jamie Buechele of Ottawa Lake, Mich., James Swendsen of Palmyra, Mich., and Elizabeth Palmer of Toledo.

Miller calls Urinetown, the Musical! appropriate for all ages ("Pee is the worst word we have"). There's a lot of dancing and big production numbers, with music ranging from a Russian folk song to gospel to rock and roll and melodies in the vein of Rodgers and Hammerstein.

"It's funny, funny stuff."

"Urinetown, the Musical!" opens tomorrow and runs through Sept. 23 in the Croswell Opera House, 129 East Maumee St., Adrian. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors, and $20 for students, with discounted prices in the upper balcony. Information: 517-264-7469 or www.croswell.org.

Birth, a play that asks what pregnant women want and deserve, will be presented Saturday in Maumee.

Written by Karen Brody, Birth uses comedy, poignancy, and tragedy in an effort to reveal the deficiencies in modern maternity care. According to the play's Web site, Brody interviewed more than 100 women between 2002 and 2004 and chose to develop eight stories into a portrait of how low-risk, educated women are giving birth in America today. Following the performance, a question-and-answer session with a panel of birth professionals, including doctors and midwives, will take place.

"Birth" is scheduled at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Maumee Indoor Theater, 601 Conant St. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Information: 419-897-8902.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at:

ncherry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6130.



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