This week, Hays High and Thomas More Prep-Marian Jr./Sr. High are presenting their fall musicals beginning tonight at 7 p.m.
Urinetown, Presented by Hays High School
Hays High is presenting their rendition of Urinetown, a piece originally written in 2001 by Greg Kotis. Urinetown is a satirical parody piece that challenges social structure and corporate greed in a dystopian setting.
Director Alex Underwood describes the play as absurd and hilarious. The decision to produce a show as wild as this one was made not only due to its excellent fit in casting but also as a follow up to the more serious content in their spring production.
“Our spring show was Rent, and it’s a beautiful show but it’s really pretty heavy and serious and this could not be further from that, which is what led us to this show because it’s something that we’re all just kind of craving and needing in our world right now.” Underwood said.
The play centers on a society that goes to extreme measures to solve a severe water shortage. To ensure the crisis is under control, all citizens are required to use public restrooms requiring a fee. The largest corporation holds a monopoly of the town’s facilities and is run by money hungry CEO Caldwell B Cladwell, played by junior Seth Tripp and his right-hand woman Penelope Pennywise played by Shirley Lee.
Senior Carson Brooksher tackles the lead role of Bobby Strong, leader of the revolution, who falls in love with Hope Cladwell, daughter of the CEO, played by Devlyn Jochum.
Brooksher and Lee are no strangers to the limelight. Both portrayed lead roles in their spring musical and are both seasoned actors within Hays High Theatre. Jochum however, is performing in her first major role and Underwood shared his praises for her effortless acclimation into a new role.
“Devlyn is just an exceptional singer, one of the strongest singers we have at Hays High actually, but this is the first time we’ve seen her do a lot of acting and she is such a natural, she is confident and totally takes charge,” Underwood said of the junior singer and actress.
Another student stepping into a major role is Seth Tripp, who portrays the villain.
“Seth has created this creepy sort of flamboyant character that is really funny, and also just over the top and he has done a fantastic job,” Underwood said.
Underwood shares that if there is anything he could share with the public, it is to overcome the title.
“The show doesn’t just satirize social structures, but it also satirizes musical theatre itself,” Underwood said. “One of the characters even jokes ‘I don’t think anyone’s going to come see this musical’ and they ask ‘why?’ and it’s like ‘well, because of the subject matter and the title, it’s just awful’”
For those skeptical of attending a musical with such an outrageous title, Underwood comments,
“We know, welcome to the joke of the show, like who would name a show Urinetown? That’s the humor, so if you like that kind of humor the show is going to be right up your alley.”
Opening night will be at 7 p.m. tonight followed by two performances on Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and then closing out with their final show on Sunday at 2 p.m. All performances will be held at 12th Street Auditorium in downtown Hays with tickets sold for $10 at the door or at their website www.ticketsource.us/hays-high-school.
Shrek: The Musical, Presented by Thomas More Prep-Marian Jr./Sr. High School
TMP Jr./Sr. High School is presenting Shrek: The Musical as their fall musical production.
Similar to the 2001 Dreamworks film, Shrek: The Musical follows the story of Shrek, an outcast ogre living in solitude, suddenly disrupted by fairytale creatures banished from the surrounding city of Duloc. Seeking out the rights to his once beloved swamp, Shrek ventures on a journey at the demands of Lord Farquaad to rescue a princess, accompanied by loyal companion and occasional nuisance, Donkey.
Jensen Brull stars in the lead role of Shrek, in impressive ogre attire designed by Pamela Grizzell, wife of Director Travis Grizzell. The complex makeup and prosthetic application are attributed to parents of the cast as well as Nicole Dreiling and TMP theatre alumni Alexandra Herrman.
Brull has been under the wing of his director from a young age, including an appearance in The Sound of Music. Grizzell shared that he has enjoyed watching Brull grow into the young man he is today.
The motivation behind choosing Shrek as the fall musical was very similar to that of Hays High.
“We did The Crucible and Phantom of the Opera last year during the pandemic, so it was all kind of dark,” Grizzell said.
“They were good shows, we had a good time, but we felt like coming out of that whole thing maybe we ought to go back to something fun and cartoon-ish, the kids have been asking to do Shrek for a while”
Alongside Brull, standout characters include Madelyn Seiler who portrays Fiona, McKynlee Stecklein who portrays the dragon, and making her debut is Rebekah Schroeder who portrays Shrek’s comedic companion, Donkey.
“She’s done tech and lights for us in the past, but this year she just read really well for the role and is making her debut as a junior, we’re excited”, Grizzell shared.
Seiler and Stecklein, both vocal powerhouses, are stepping on the stage as strong female characters, Seiler as Fiona and Stecklein as the Dragon.
Seiler appeared alongside Grizzell as a guard in one of the first showings of Shrek: The Musical with the Hays Community Theatre, and recently was cast as Belle in TMP’s production of Beauty and the Beast and her vocal performance as Carlotta in Phantom of the Opera was praised as soaring beyond the rafters of Dreiling Theatre.
Of Stecklein, Grizzell shared his excitement for crowds to experience her portrayal of the Dragon in their production.
“Vocally she is one of the best that has ever roamed the halls here, she is amazing, she is absolutely a head turner,” Grizzell said.
Showtimes for Shrek: The Musical will run tonight through Saturday with curtain at 7 p.m. and Sunday with curtain at 2 p.m. All four shows will open thirty minutes prior to curtain at Dreiling Theatre located at TMP. Tickets can be purchased for $8 at the door or at https://www.tmp-m.org/o/tmpm/page/shrekthemusical.
“I just want people to get out and go to the theatre,” Grizzell shared.
“Shrek is always a good time and it’s one of those rare shows, you can bring grandkids, grandparents, the whole family and I promise you will have a blast.”