John George Campbell as Caldwell B Cladwell in Urinetown
I was recently cast in the role of Caldwell B Cladwell in the Barn Stage Companys production of Urinetown, in Temecula, California by casting director Evan D’Angeles. The experience was a lot of fun. The cast was really strong, and the direction by J. Scott Lapp, musical direction by Taylor Peckham, choreography by Chelsea Nicole Lapp, and musicians in the pit (just out of view of the audience), were all superb.
I auditioned for this particular company, and this particular show, because I had heard great things about the young duo heading the company, producer Jordan Beck, and artistic director J.Scott Lapp. Looking at the shows they had planned for the rest of the season, the role of Caldwell B Cladwell, in Urinetown, was the only role that I felt that I would be right for. So, I was happy when they cast me for that role in the show. Officer Lockstock would have also been a fun role to play, and they read me for that, as well, though I knew that my friend Paul Kehler had already been pre-cast for the role.
The show is one of the funniest musicals that I’ve ever been a part of. It’s incredibly silly, zany, smart, and especially funny. J. Scott Lapps stage direction was tight and crisp, moving from one energetic scene to another , with no let up. To say that the show seemed to produce a laugh a minute might be understating the impact that the cast and production team had on the audience. A lot of the credit for that has to go to the writers of the show, J. Scott Lapps stage direction, the choreography by Chelsea Nicole Lapp, and the superbly talented and funny ensemble of actors on the stage performing in the big production numbers.
I knew that the show was going to be good during rehearsals when all the cast members who weren’t involved in a scene being rehearsed, were all laughing at the performances of their fellow cast mates rehearsing on the stage. We were having such a good time through the rehearsal process, that when the time came to share the show with our audiences, they had as good a time with the show, as we did.
Urinetown is about a big city, like New York City, that has gone through a drought for at least 20 years. A drought so severe and terrible that people are charged for the Privilege to Pee, as sung in a humourously dramatic way by Wyn Wilson, in the role of Penelope Pennywise. My character, Caldwell B. Cladwell, is president and CEO of Urine Good Company, and owns all of the public facilities where people are charged to be able to pee. If they don’t use my facilities to pee in, they’re arrested and taken off to Urinetown, not so much a place, as it is “a metaphysical place”, as explained to the audience by Little Sally, expertly comically performed by Angela Griswold.
The story gets a little complicated for my character, when my daughter Hope, played by the radiant and talented Rachel King, falls in love with one of my public facilities attendants, Bobby Strong, performed with conviction and talent by Michael Mittman, who begins to lead a rebellion of the people against my politically controlling corporate empire. Caldwell B Cladwell tries to explain the facts of power, and the control of politicians by corporations to Hope, and the fate of those who don’t have the money, and the power, by telling her to “Don’t be the Bunny”.
In the end, Caldwell B. Cladwell is overthrown by the people, led by his daughter Hope, but the victory is only temporary, as the environmental issues that caused the drought in the first place, continue to be ignored.