MCT rises to new heights with its production of Urinetown the Musical

Community theatre, when it’s done well, can be a true blessing, and the community of Missoula is very fortunate to have MCT in its midst for the past 29 years since it opened its doors in 1988.

We have been lucky to have witnessed the past four seasons of MCT productions, and we can truly say that the work done on the 2016-2017 season is some of the best we have ever witnessed.  Case in point – the current production of Urinetown: the Musical is easily the best show to come out of MCT during its tenure.  We were so glad to be there on opening night on Friday to witness its greatness.

What sets this show apart is the fact that it does not take itself seriously, but from start to finish takes a tongue-in-check approach that truly endears the show to participants and audiences alike.

Reid Reimers as Officer Lockstock is the consummate narrator and a damn fine actor.  His portrayal is spot-on, and his interactions with Haley Court as Little Sally are among the many bright spots of this production.  Speaking of Court, and having performed with her in her first show (Spamalot) four years ago, her growth as an actress has been nothing short of remarkable.

But they were not the only stars of this remarkable show, which was brilliantly directed by Joseph Martinez, with choreography by Megan Wittshire, music direction by Scott Koljonen, Scenic Design by Theresa K. Jenson and J. Scott Reilly, Lighting Design by Daniel Norton, Props Design by Lesley Washburn, Costume Design by Linda Muth and Sound Design by Gregory Boris, all perfectly carried out by stage director Kera Rivera.

Rachel Shull, who recently returned to Missoula from Utah, is pivotal as Penelope Pennywise, the administrator of Public Amenity #9.  Her voice took her solos to new heights and her comedic timing was perfect as she brought this very interesting character to life.  Equally as compelling was the return of Tim Shonkwiler as Bobby Strong, who provided the perfect nemesis for Shull’s character and ultimately led to her redemption, and Taylor Caprara as Hope Cladwell, the naïve daughter of villain Caldwell B. Cladwell, owner of UGC, played by Kelly Cutler.  Caprara was perfectly cast in this role, and demonstrated immense talent in her portrayal of her character’s eye-opening experience and eventual rise to power.  On the other hand, Cutler’s performance brought forth the perfect villain in Cladwell, and gave the audience a character truly worthy of its animosity.

Of the remaining cast members, all 17 turned in outstanding performances, but one truly shone in her role as one of Bobby Strong’s followers.  Carlyn Runnels, who portrayed Tiny Tom in the cop ensemble, was a singing and dancing machine, and stole the scene with her brilliance and award-worthy skills.

If you are a true musical theatre nerd, MCT is having a contest to see how many of the many musical references contained in this production can be identified by the audience.   Some of them are quite obvious to even the casual theater lover, while others will only be apparent to the true connoisseur of musical theater.   Regardless of which category you fit, it is fun to try and find them, sort of like the theatre’s version of Pokémon Go!

You should definitely make plans to attend this show, which continues today with performances at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., followed by 7:30 p.m. performances on January 25-28, 6:30 p.m. performance on January 29, and 2 p.m. matinees on January 28 and 29.  Call the box office at 728-7529 to inquire about the availability of tickets.   Friday’s opening night was sold out.