“Urinetown” comes to Fountain Hills with plenty to laugh about, with its bold, deadpan humor and a more intimate cast than meets the eye.
In the satirical musical, protagonist Bobby Strong, played by Tyler Morgan, joins his younger brother, Beau Morgan, his sister-in-law, Autumn Morgan, and his father, Steve Morgan, in the musical set in the filthy slums of ‘Urinetown. .
“I’m thinking of Bobby [Strong] like the scuffed version of Newsies frontman Jack Kelly,” says Tyler, who points out that each number in the play is a parody of other Broadway musicals.
As the father of two young boys, Morgan hadn’t planned on spending time playing one of the play’s lead roles, but when Fountain Hills Theater production manager Patty Torrilhon approached the Morgan family with the open part he accepted after some encouragement from his father, who plays Bobby’s rebellious father “Joseph ‘Old Man’ Strong.”
In a chilling premise, decades of drought have led to a tragic water shortage, prompting a government ban on private toilets. A megacorporation by the name of UGC, or Urine Good Company, led by the evil Cladwell B. Cladwell (Michael Paul), has taken control of the city’s water consumption and is inciting another rise in user fees public facilities. This, in turn, funds the evil business leader’s vacation to Rio Del Rio. Bobby Strong leads the rebellion in a fight for freedom, hope and justice, but not without casualties.
“What I like about Bobby is that he takes everything very seriously; he’s not in on the joke,” Tyler said of his character. “I love being able to act like I’m this inspirational figure when in reality I’m leading a revolution against a bathroom.”
An unlikely romance occurs between Bobby Strong and Hope Cladwell, the daughter of UGC’s villainous president, played by Katie Marburger. The two are united in the belief that people can be happy and free, and fight for freedom, “to pee when they want, as much as they want, for as long as they want and with whom they want”. (“I see a river.”)
Marburger began performing in musical theater at age five, then attended Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, majoring in theater and minoring in music. She played the role of Hope Cladwell once in college after first seeing “Urinetown” at the International Thespian Festival.
“I describe Hope [Cladwell] like a mashup of Paris Hilton meets Leslie Knope meets Dora the Explorer,” says Marburger. “She is very generous and well-meaning, but very naive – probably wrongly so. Hope isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.
Marburger is joined by her father, Dan Marburger, who plays the villain’s weak-knee assistant, Mr. McQueen, a devious man who will stop at nothing to save himself.
“When I first read the script I thought it was so funny,” Tyler’s brother Beau Morgan said. He and his wife Autumn are part of the musical’s boisterous ensemble. Beau first saw the production at the Mesa Encore Theater where his father and brother performed.
“It was so funny, I went to see it three times, and I never do that, even though my family is there,” Beau said.
Growing up in a theater family, Beau has been performing since seventh grade, having appeared on a show where ensemble boys were needed in the production of “Annie Get Your Gun.”
“I used to have intense stage fright,” Beau said. “But you learn to turn nerves into energy.”
Part of that, Beau says, is finding your purpose in the piece. As part of the set, Beau accepts the challenge of conveying his character’s thoughts and feelings through facial expressions and body language.
“I don’t have lines, so creating this character and conveying to the audience what I feel is a challenge, but we’re doing our best.”
Despite the toilet humor of “Urinetown,” Tyler, Katie, and Beau all find deeper meaning in the play’s message.
“At some point, I think every person feels like someone is telling you what to do,” Beau said. “In this case, this thing pees, but in real life it can feel like there’s a hierarchy above us that won’t stop until someone like Bobby comes along. not and will not show the way.”
In the series’ final act, Hope Cladwell (Katie Marburger) addresses a seething rebellion, hungry for justice. “My heart is telling me a lot of things right now, as you can all well imagine. But if there’s one thing that screams louder than anything else, it’s that when there’s a problem in the world, we have to fix it.
While the piece was written over 20 years ago, Marburger said the message is more relevant today than ever.
“I feel like sometimes our perception of people is wrong when in reality our idea of the highest good may not be the highest good,” says Tyler Morgan. “Often we have our own perception of people and that may be wrong, even though in our minds it is very true; there is usually a bigger picture.