I slipped in last night for the preview performance of PHAMALy's Urinetown: The Musical. What a treat!
Sometimes I think there is a tendency to regard PHAMALy productions as a bunch of disabled people singing and dancing and putting on a show, when I think it would be more accurate to describe it as a very talented and dedicated group of performers putting on a show, and, oh, by the way, they all have disabilities.
On the one hand, I think that it's great that PHAMALy gets as much media coverage as it does, because it sends the message to people with disabilities that possibilities exist. On the other hand, I wonder sometimes if so much of the media coverage comes about because a theatre company of people with disabilities is something of a "token" idea. Editors love the "human interest" element, so the media coverage is disproportionate to the coverage of other theatre companies in the area. (Can anyone tell me the last time that another theatre company got front page on the Post?)
Again, I do not wish to begrudge PHAMALy the exposure, but part of me wonders if the excessive coverage doesn't somewhat diminish the merit of the performance itself. To say "Regan Linton is a terrific actress in a wheelchair" almost sounds like more of a qualification than a description. Regan Linton is a terrific actress. Period. (Bit of a scene-stealer, too. My companion and I giggled everytime she came on stage.)
So I resolved myself to the idea that, if Urinetown was not up to the standard of any other theatre company that I would write about here, I wasn't going to devote a blog to the show. I felt that it would be a disservice to the integrity of the company.
And the truth is, while I am a big supporter of PHAMALy, and have enjoyed every show that I've seen them do, I was a bit reticent about the choice of Urinetown: The Musical for this particular company. After the cast list was announced, I found myself a bit unsure about whether everybody in the show was in quite the role that best suited their talents.
Add to that a bit of backstage drama to which I was privy (heh, heh,"privy"), and it is safe to say that I was not sure when I walked into the Space Theatre last night whether or not I was going to be wowed by what I saw. And "wow" was the make-it-or-break-it criterion for my mentioning it here.
Well, since you are all reading a blog called "PHAMALy's Urinetown: #1 Show (tee-hee-hee)," you have no doubt surmised that the "wows" were plentiful.
Kathleen Traylor will knock your socks off with "It's a Privilege to Pee." The choreography under Cindy Bray, Debbie Stark, and Teri Westerman has raised the bar for the company and the ensemble has cleared that bar with ease. (Well, maybe not with ease. Mark Dissette's perspiration, to borrow Regan Linton's description, looks like a special effect.) There is much to like, to love, about this show. If you're put off by the title, don't be. If you're unsure about the subject matter, get over it.
PHAMALy's Urinetown: The Musical gets a must-see from one of the most arrogant know-it-alls in the Denver theatre scene.
(Me. I'm talking about me. Try to keep up.)