“Urinetown: The Musical” ran from April 29 through May 3. COVID-19 caused challenges as the Conservatory prepared for the musical, but it also presented new opportunities.
To close out the season, Webster University’s Conservatory performed “Urinetown: The Musical.” The musical follows a town that has outlawed the use of public toilets to help regulate water consumption. Running from April 29 through May 3, the musical was streamed through ShowTix4U.
“Urinetown is a musical about the greed of corporations and the fight for the right … to pee. It’s a satire on how corporations and public amenities can be some dangerously intertwined, and how the people are the ones that suffer,” said Gregory Almanza, directing major and props crew member for the show.
Aurora Behlke was the assistant director of the show. This was the first mainstage musical she helped direct, and she described her job as essentially damage control.
“I loved assisting our director, Jamie Mckittrick. She taught me through this process how to find the funny in every moment. She is also an incredible movement instructor, so I was extremely excited to see her work in the room,” Behlke said.
Both Almanza and Behlke described Mckittrick as taking her vision of the show and creating a larger-than-life design that is funny and obscure.
“There are a couple of jokes that have had me rolling in the aisles every night of tech week. I’m excited for audiences to become immersed in the outright absurdity of this show,” Behlke said.
Although this is the final show of the season, it presented new challenges for the Conservatory. Almanza and Behlke described the use of masks, social distancing, sanitizing, having a cast larger than allowed in the rehearsal areas, a COVID-19 case shutting down in-person production and having to move online.
“I think that retrospectively, it is insane that we were able to put on a show in the times of COVID. It was hard work but definitely paid off. You saw our community rally around the greater health and well being of one another in order to accomplish something that some major institutions have not been able to do” Almanza said.
In the past, theatre has been exclusive to people who live in the area, are able to afford tickets and have a means of transportation. However, due to COVID-19, the Conservatory did not perform “Urinetown: The Musical” live, but rather streamed it. This allowed a broader audience.
“For the Conservatory, it’s great because actors and designers are getting much more exposure than they usually would. Our industries are in LA, NYC, and Chicago for the most part, so now, professionals can consider hiring people from our program without the arduous travel,” Behlke said.
Behlke described her love for shows and her hopes to return to live shows. But she does hope to continue to stream so people all around the world, such as her aunt in Japan, can watch and enjoy the Conservatory’s performances.
“I think it’s a great way to spread Conservatory love and talent to people all over the world,” Behlke said.