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The Players Theatre

Also see Bill's review of Bubbling Brown Sugar

Jason Ellis and Cast
Players' audiences are finding themselves in Urinetown, the musical by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis. This is one of my favorite musicals, an acerbic satire of capitalism with a wink and nod to great musicals of the past. Urinetown owes a debt to the anti-establishment works of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, especially The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. It is not an easy piece (two ladies seated beside me decided to leave at intermission after learning that the second act is much the same in tone as the first). Congratulations to Jeffrey Kin and The Players Theatre for risking it.

Director Kyle Ennis Turoff previously directed this show at The Golden Apple Dinner Theater in 2006. This production seems to almost duplicate that one, which was a reproduction of the Broadway production, copying sets, costumes and choreography. Dancing is a major element of this musical and Ms. Turoff has gotten outstanding results from her cast, perhaps some of the best dancing I have seen on a community theater stage.

The cast list reads like a who's who of local community theater performers: Jason Ellis as Bobby Strong, Sarah Cassidy as Hope Cladwell, Alana Opie as Penelope Pennywise, Chris Caswell as Officer Lockstock, and Robert Turoff repeating his turn as Caldwell B. Cladwell. These folks have starred in many of the best productions in the past. Although I was less familiar with Ashley Jai as Little Sally, her biography credits identify her as a seasoned professional. She brings just the right blend of innocence and sassiness to her character. The entire supporting cast is excellent; each has a specific character to portray and most have moments in the spotlight.

Rick Bogner, one of the area's finest music directors, is at keyboard 1, assisted by Christine Allen Bruno at keyboard 2, Bill Carmichael on woodwinds, Joe Wolfe on trombone, and Paul Henry on percussion. They make the musical element of the show bright and lively.

When I think about all the musicals I have seen during the 2013-2014 theater season, Urinetown at The Players will be near the top of the list.

Urinetown, through April 27, 2014, at The Players Theatre, 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL. Box Office (941) 365-2494. For more information visit

Cast (in order of appearance):
Officer Lockstock: Chris Caswell
Penelope Pennywise: Alana Opie
Bobby Strong: Jason Ellis
Little Sally: Ashley Jai
Dr. Billeaux/Robbie the Stockfish: Jeffrey Sadler
Mr. McQueen: Eric Gregory
Senator Fipp: Philip Alexander
Officer Barrel: JD Carter
Hope Cladwell: Sarah Cassidy
Old Man Strong/Billy Boy Bill: Berry Ayers
Tiny Tom: David Walker
Soupy Sue: Alyssa goudy
Little Becky Two Shoes: Shelly Whiteside
Caldwell B. Cladwell: Robert Turoff
Josephine Strong: Debbie White
Mrs. Millenium: Sandra Musicante
Hot Blades Harry: Ross Boehringer
Hidalgo Jane: Emma Diner

Director/Choreographer: Kyle Ennis Turoff
Musical Director: Rick Bogner
Lighting Designer: Nick Jones
Costume Designer: Kaylene McCaw
Original Set Designer: Michael Newton Brown

Photo: Don Daly

--William S. Oser

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