July 13, 2024
Annapolis, US 74 F

Young millennials take a stance on politics through performance

At center, Seth Hanley (R) as Cladwell B. Caldwell and his right hand man, Senator Fipp, played by Matthew Lucente (L)

Whether it’s a parody of the top 1%, a take on police brutality, or a portrayal of Donald Trump, it’s all covered in PVA’s latest 21st Century II project: a full-scale production of URINETOWN: The Musical. A satire with its foundation in our current political climate, the students have taken a melodramatic dive into both the ridiculous and quite realistic moments our country has undergone within the past year with this brilliant script and score. 

Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ Performing and Visual Arts Magnet Program focuses on the creative process in both its daytime and Extended Day classes. As a result, students have been connecting global awareness to their process in order to effectively prepare for rehearsals. In the production, a single corporation headed by a failed businessman segregates the poor to the “rough part of town” where people are forced to “pay to pee.”  Although the people yearn to “pee for free,” the cops’ threats to send them to “Urinetown” seem to keep everyone in line until the murmurs of a revolution begin. With each cast member playing a poor vagabond, a wealthy CEO, and a biased cop, the conflict that ensues is a combination of comedic brilliance and fast-paced satire paralleling some of what we are hearing and seeing on the news every day.

Director and Instructor Dana Peragallo added, “The students are so incredibly committed to the piece. They are embracing their own (and very active!) opinions regarding current events and making choices within the piece that reflects those thoughts. They are well-informed and empowered by the content of the show, while simultaneously creating phenomenal art.” She continued, “I feel so honored to work with students who feel so passionate about the state of their country and their commitment to increase the awareness of the need for change.”  Collier Randall is a Junior Acting Major in the program portraying Officer Lockstock, the narrator of the show. Collier commented regarding his role of a police officer, “I’ve reflected on the abundance of cases where it is obvious that justice was not the top priority and I’ve been overwhelmed with a sense of separation between the police and the citizens. The fact that there is a percentage of police officers whose actions suggest that they are above the law is prevalent in today’s society. This prompted me to put an emphasis on the arrogant, power-hungry, violent nature that is seen in our country.” For Collier and the rest of the cast and design team, this makes a direct connection to the performance. He added, “I definitely think that students my age should be knowledgeable about what’s happening politically in our country. As cliché as it may sound, we are the future of this country. What happens to our country right now isn’t just important in the present, but it’s essential when making decisions that will provide solutions to problems that have plagued our nation for many years. I think it’s safe to say that URINETOWN alludes to themes such as population growth, dwindling resources, and, of course, police brutality. I feel that this story highlights these issues in a way that breaks down the barrier between audience and the performers using a metaphor that is easy to understand.”

Jeff Harrison, PVA Senior Manager, consistently encourages the outreach of the outstanding art created within the PVA. He emphasizes that, “Our students shouldn’t be recognized for their art. Rather, our students should be recognized for what they do with their art, who it touches, and how far it reaches.” With this vision in mind, the students are out to make their thoughts on our troubled America heard loud and clear – and what better way than through the craft of performance. Performances of URINETOWN: The Musical will be held in the round at The Theatre at Studio 39 in Annapolis on Friday, June 3, at 7:30 PM, and Saturday, June 4, at 2:30 PM & 7:30 PM for free. Students will collect donations for The Community Foundation of Greater Flint following the performance. For more information or to reserve tickets, please call the Studio 39 Office at 410-280-1501 or email [email protected].

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