“When a young girl has as many lines as I do, there’s still hope for dreams”
Though Urinetown’s run at the St James Theatre was very well-received (including here by yours truly), I have to profess to being a little surprised that a West End transfer was announced. The quirky nature of the show didn’t immediately seem to lend itself to one of the larger houses but without any mid-sized theatres in town, there’s no choice but to supersize when in reality, an extended run at the St James would have been ideal. It was sad to see the house so quiet for this midweek matinée and the run has now been shortened by a couple of weeks to allow My Night With Reg to move in so perhaps it was too hard a sell but Jamie Lloyd’s production certainly has much going for it. A few thoughts follow.
It’s nice to see a company supporting its own rather than parachuting in a ‘name’ for the sake of ticket sales and so Richard Fleeshman is replaced as the show’s hero Bobby Strong by Matthew Seadon-Young who has been there from the beginning. And likewise Julie Jupp and Alasdair Buchan will be stepping up to step into the shoes of Jenna Russell and Marc Elliott when they leave at the end of November – it’s a natural and brilliant progression route and it something that should definitely be encouraged. (Naturally the show isn’t immune to economic realities and so it is Phill Jupitus who will be coming in for Simon Paisley Day, an interesting choice but as I’ve never seen him on stage one I’m a little unsure about.)
Seadon-Young is good but could perhaps go a little further in emphasising Bobby’s cheesy earnestness, though his rapport with Rosanna Hyland’s Hope is very nicely played. Jonathan Slinger’s narrating Officer Lockstock and Jenna Russell’s Miss Pennywise remain unmissable scene-stealing things of wonder and it is nice to see familiar faces from much-loved recent musicals joining the team too – Kane Oliver Parry and Christina Modestou both continuing a rich vein of form which I hope to see prosper well beyond time being called here. So yes, I was glad to be able to go again to Urinetown and with a number of deals floating around, there’s some real bargains to be had to catch it before it gets flushed.