Scott Selman wants audience members to prepare themselves for “Urinetown” this weekend.
“Come prepared to laugh — it’s a very funny show,” Selman said.
This production of "Urinetown" will be performed by the children, teens and young adults of Act Two. It is the tale of a poverty-stricken town where “everyone must use public bathrooms to take care of their private business.” The result is an uprising by townspeople sick of paying for something that should be free.
“Urinetown' is not a serious piece … the message is of light-hearted fun for anyone who enjoys laughing,” said Urinetown’s director Kevin Kuchar.
Act Two is a nonprofit performing arts company that began last September. It put on five shows in the past year, including renditions of "Beauty and the Beast," "The Laramie Project," "Songs for a New World" and "Cats." In addition to theater performances, the group offers classes in dance, musical theater and acting. The classes and the performances are paid for through a combination of participant tuition and ticket sales.
THE COMPANY'S FOCUS is on grades 3 through 12, but the “Summer Spotlight” program, which oversaw "Urinetown," features participants up to age 20. Most of the "Urinetown" leads are in college.
“Kevin [Kuchar], Keith [Tittermery] and I — we are Act Two," said Selman.
Each man brought his own talent to the endeavor. Kuchar is the artistic director of Act Two and director of Urinetown. Keith is Act Two’s music producer, and he plays piano for the musical. Selman is the company’s executive producer and the producer of Urinetown. He handles the technical aspects of performances.
The trio and the company have been rehearsing the 12-scene play for about a month. Time is Act Two’s biggest enemy, said Kuchar. “It’s hard to put on a full-scale musical … in as little as 22 rehearsals. With staging, music, character development, choreography, lighting, sets and costuming … time is not your friend."
The performers practice for two hours a day during the week and for four hours on Saturdays. “The kids want to do this," said Selman. "They’re giving up their summer vacations for it."
Samantha Messerly, a junior at Penn State, is happy to make the sacrifice.
“I’m not taking theater or acting in college, so this is a way I can still be a part of the performing arts world, which I really enjoy," she said.
Playing Josephine in "Urinetown" is her first time working with Act Two. Messerly has been in theater since the eighth grade and previously worked with Bound 4 Broadway, Act Two's predecessor, for five years.
ALL THE PERFORMERS had to audition for their roles.
“It isn’t like a summer camp," said Kuchar. "You have to audition. We advertise for auditions on the internet and in newspapers."
Benjamin Meck, 20, had no problem auditioning. As a professional actor, he’s used to it. Meck, who plays Senator Fipp, is a 2003 graduate of Blake High School. He has found success in the film industry, with roles in independent films like "Rocket Science" and "Notes from the Rogues Gallery."
“Once, I even pushed Uma Thurman’s stunt double in front of a subway train,” he said.
Meck and the 29 other actors will be hard at work polishing their performances until August 4, when they will show off their talents in the premier performance of Act Two’s "Urinetown."
“I hope that the audience will leave the show smiling after two hours of laughing," said Kuchar.
Aspiring thespians can audition for "Les Miserables" in late August. Visit www.acttwo.org for dates and details.