Behind the scenes of “Urinetown”


Students rehearse for a “Urinetown” musical number. From left to right: Makenna Melia, Hannah Brown, Amelia Carter, Katelyn Ulrich, Julia Solberg, Kamran Razi, Mickey Norton, Shayla Patel, Juliana Whittrock, Alia Islam, Caroline Walsh. (Annie Koziel)

Ah yes, the theatre. As in the words of Edward Bond, “there is no world without theater.” 

Every year, Hinsdale Central Drama Club puts on a variety of performances for the student body, ranging from comedies, musicals and tragedies. This year’s musical selection is Urinetown. As the drama club and stage crew prepare to bring Urinetown to life on April 21 and 22, stage crew, actors/actresses, and assistant directors all work fervently to bring this musical to life.

Urinetown is a comedy which takes place in a futuristic society where citizens suffer from a 20-year-long drought and water shortage. Because of the water shortage, the government passed an act banning private use of toilets and requiring citizens to use public bathrooms. These bathrooms are owned by the Urine Good Company. If citizens disobey these urination laws, they are sent to “Urinetown, a mysterious place where people are sent to but never return.” 

In order to successfully pull off a play, there are many moving parts. One of these parts requires the help of assistant directors. 

“As a director, I take notes as we’re walking the show and where people are standing,” said Wren Koziel, sophomore and one of three student assistant directors for Urinetown. “When we’re doing choreography rehearsals we will record at some point so that actors can then watch it back from practice. I also fill in for people who are not there, and take down your feed lines to people once we’re off book. Anything the director needs is what we’re doing.”

In addition to the coordination and organization done by the assistant directors, actors play a big role in the preparation behind the play as well, spending much of their afternoons participating in different activities to practice for the play.

“A typical day in rehearsal depends on what we’re doing,” said Katelyn Ulrich, senior who plays Little Becky Two-Shoes. “If we’re doing a choreography rehearsal, we’ll split into whatever group we’re in… So she will come in [the choreographer] and we’ll run the numbers that we’ve learned first..then we’ll continue until we’ve worked it to perfection and then work on other dance numbers. For vocal rehearsals.. We will go through everything we have learned so far. For blocking rehearsals and acting, we run through each of the pages and our director will give us notes on where we stand at a certain point. Then we rehearse with our cast mates as well and put everything together from the blocking rehearsals with the singing and dancing as well.”

One of the last moving parts for the musical includes the stage crew. Stage crew represents one of the most crucial parts of the play, as they create all of the sets, set up lighting, and control the mics used by the actors.

“We began building sets in January,” said Arianna Messana, sophomore member of Stage Crew. “For ‘Urinetown,’ mainly we’re building the platform bases right now and then in a little while we start with the walls. Right now, we are just building individual platforms and then we’ll screw them into the stage and make signs on them. Then we’ll start working on the building part, like the scenes [in ‘Urinetown’].”

Different from other Drama Club productions this year, “Urinetown” seems to represent a unique and different process. . 

“Musicals, obviously, you have to learn music and dance in addition to acting and blocking and all those things.” Koziel said. “ So there’s more people involved in a musical, you have the director, and then you have the musical director, and then the choreographer. So yeah, musicals and plays are both difficult to put together but musicals tend to have a little bit more moving pieces.”

This sentiment is also shared by some actors. 

“I think the time scheduled for this is very different from what I’ve done in the past.” Ulrich said. “We have rehearsal basically every day after school until about [6 p.m.], and we have certain days dedicated for choreography, certain days that are dedicated to vocal rehearsal, and certain days where we just started running certain acts, and then we’re going to start putting it all together after spring break where we get to rehearse with the band.”

Despite some challenges faced in production, there is still excitement for the final product. For many, this represents their last chance to perform as a high school student. 

“This is actually my first full length musical [at Central],” Ulrich said. “I’m very excited to be able to end my senior year by doing something I’m very passionate about, and also being able to do it with a great group of talented people.”

Make sure to watch Hinsdale Central’s production of Urinetown on April 21 and 22! Tickets are available online and at the door for $10 for students, $20 for adults. If you are interested in joining Drama Club, visit their website or email Christopher Kostro, sponsor, for more information.