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Phoenix Theatre set to present Urinetown

Helene Olson-Reed as Officer Lockstock. Samantha Bengs / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 4
Caleb Conway as Bobby Strong. Samantha Bengs / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 4
Tricia Perau as Penelope Pennywise. Samantha Bengs / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 4
Brittany Westerberg as Hope Cladwell. Samantha Bengs / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 4

The Phoenix Theatre's summer musical production is turning some heads, courtesy of its unique name. "Urinetown, the Musical" is a winner of three Tony Awards, three Outer Critics Circle Awards, two Lucille Lortel Awards and two Obie Awards.

A musical satire, "Urinetown" takes on the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, municipal politics and musical theater itself.

"Urinetown" is directed by Lake City native Jared Zeigler. Some may recognize Zeigler from the Sheldon stage, as he has had roles in various Phoenix Theatre productions. Ziegler is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota theater program.

"'Urinetown' is a show about a town struggling under oppression where even getting to pee is a privilege — what happens when they decide to unite and act as a unified voice of concerned citizens?," Ziegler said.

"My hope is that audiences walk away from this show having seen a lot of jokes and also a true community," he said. "That's where the magic of summer community theatre musicals hooks me. It's about the group and the ensemble."

The 2001 Broadway hit features music and lyrics by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis.

"This is a show that does what the stage does best — allows us to celebrate our shared humanity, even as we laugh at all the messes we make," said Bonnie Schock, executive director of the Sheldon Theatre. "It's a pure joy to witness this cast and company bring such a wildly satirical piece to life. They are having a great time, and we know the audience will too."

The musical's cast sees a blend of local — Red Wing, Ellsworth and beyond — veteran performers and a handful of new faces to the Sheldon stage.

Included in the cast are Caleb Conway, Carrie Engberg, Mike Fitzmaurice, Amanda Gade, Chase Gilbertson, Robbin Gust, Ethan Hayes, Chelsea Indrehus, Cory Koplin, Christina Kowalchyk, Hailey Kowalchyk, Hannah Kowalchyk, Jazmin Martin, Alison Metzen, Helene Olson-Reed, Tricia Perau, Jacob Quade, Amara Smith, Laurel Stinson, Julie Tonsager, Cooper Utley, Brittany Westerberg and Charlie Woodruff.

Another Phoenix Theatre veteran, Rob Schmidtke, serves as the vocal and pit orchestra director. 

“The show has memorable and singable melodies,” Schmidtke said. “The cast has been really easy to work with — they each have highly talented vocal abilities, especially in some the show’s biggest acapella moments.”

Schmidtke also said the music of Urinetown features many styles, from gospel to jazz and more.

If you go:

What: Phoenix Theatre's production of "Urinetown, the Musical"

When: July 21-22 and July 28-29, 7:30 p.m., July 27, 7 p.m., and July 30, 3 p.m.

Where: The Sheldon Theatre, 443 W. Third St.

More info: 651-388-8700;

Tickets: $15-20; $10 students