Hats off to the Musical Theatre Society for a terrific production of Urinetown at the Marlowe Theatre Studio in Canterbury this weekend; a hard-working ensemble were led by a strong cast, delivering an energy-filled and very physical performance, with some wonderful comic touches and some genuinely touching moments.
Soprano Francesca Charlton had great charm and vocal presence as Hope Cladwell, whilst Charlie Hunt was outstanding as a deliciously villainous Caldwell B Cladwell; Matt Cooke was a delight as Bobby Strong, ranging from rabble-rouser to vulnerable with great skill, whilst Charley Tench dominated the stage as Miss Pennywise – she brought a hugely expressive face to the production, striding around like a colossus whenever she was present. Philip Hunt was an engaging narrator in the role of Officer Lockstock, whilst Anna Reith played Little Sally with beguiling charm, the fulcrum character representing the meeting-point between the downtrodden citizenry and the money-grabbing powers of the upper world. And a tip of the hat to Daniel Hemming, who played several roles (including Pop Strong) and was a scene-stealer throughout the performance, with comic timing and a devilish sense of mischief that was a delight to behold.
Directors Ben Chamberlain and Sarah Butt demonstrated a great eye for tableaux and some fabulous ensemble pieces, and the set design and costumes showed real inventive flair; there were occasional salient nods to the current political climate too, plenty of in-character interaction with the audience both before the performance began and during the interval, which brought us closer to the production, and a few in-jokes to appeal to the local crowd.
Supported by a tight-knit and musically agile pit band under the baton of Jack Gray, this was a top-notch production greeted rightly with terrific applause from a packed house; bravo to everyone involved!
Main images courtesy of the Musical Theatre Society