The satirical comedy musical “Urinetown” based on the book by Greg Kotis was released in 2001. The musical, which satirizes the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement and municipal politics could have been written in any era, but it has become ever more apropos in 2022. Since its release, it has been a favored script by drama teachers across the country, and Scotts Valley High School’s Kendra Kannegaard is no exception.
“This musical is so special to me, as it was the production that I was cast in (way back when I was in high school) right after I had my surgery. I really credit this show with saving my life by giving me something meaningful to work for while I adjusted to my new normal. Having the opportunity to now direct my own version of ‘Urinetown’ means the world to me,’ said Kanegaard, who was a 17-year-old Scotts Valley High School student when she underwent surgery to remove a large spinal tumor.
Now, Kannegaard (affectionately called “Ms. K.” by her students) is set to direct the musical, which centers on a dystopian future where water is scarce due to a 20-year drought.
For those not familiar with the premise of the story, the title can be a little off-putting.
“The name definitely can be a bit confusing, but I promise, this show isn’t one to be missed,” Kannegaard said. “I hope the title intrigues more people than it repels them. With a title like ‘Urinetown,’ I’d understand if most people assumed that this was a show centered entirely around potty humor, but surprisingly there really isn’t a lot of that. Instead, the show takes a satirical look at complex issues like basic human needs, greed, class, morality and love.”
Scotts Valley High School’s drama team is leaving it all on the stage with this performance, which is their last one for the school year.
“I absolutely love this show and have had a blast being a part of it. ‘Urinetown,’ despite what you might expect from the title, has been a great experience and an amazing creative outlet for me,” said junior Ian McHatton, who is a choreographer, and plays the character of Hot Blades Harry.
“I am so proud of these actors and their dances coming together. And more than that, I’ll never forget the people that I’ve spent that time with and the relationships I’ve built.”
Senior Kay Labbe, assistant director and stage manager, said that “As a whole, this experience has been wonderful, even when it is wildly stressful and I have loved being a leader for these kids.”
“All the late nights have been worth every moment, and I absolutely love being here, every second of it,” Labbe said.
Other stars of the show weighed in on their love and appreciation for the process of working on the program.
Senior Gage Herendeen, who plays double-duty as Officer Lockstock and one of the set designers, said they had “probably put more work into [the play] than I’ve ever put into anything.”
“Designing the set provided some unique challenges,” Herendeen said. “The experience has been truly breathtaking and I’ve never had more fun in my life. I’m most proud of the design of the set, as it helps the show feel like it’s set in something real, even with how wild it can be. It’s been a truly incredible show to end my run with the drama department with, and I’ve never been happier.”
Added sophomore Kevin Pugazhenthi, who plays Officer Barrel: “I love this show so very much and every person in the production, all of whom have poured in so much work and effort into making this production the beautiful performance it is. The experience has been absolutely amazing. Working with everyone in this cast has been a wonderful time.”
For herself, Kannegaard is excited to invite the community to enjoy the performances.
“This show has been such a labor of love and one of our most intensive when it comes to production,” she said. “The set is incredible and is probably my all-time favorite.”
She was also thrilled to have some former students return to the set.
“So many alumni returned to help on the show; it has been such a joy to see them help guide and mentor the cast and crew,” Kannegaard said. “We have students who have taken on massive leadership roles (such as choreographer and assistant director) who have really risen to the challenge and have gone above and beyond. It’s such an honor to work with them, and I couldn’t be prouder of this incredible group of kids.”
Want to take a trip to “Urinetown?” Tickets are available online at showtix4u.com (search Scotts Valley High). Tickets are $12 for Students/Seniors and $15 for general admission. The show runs from April 15 thru May 1, with both evening and matinee performances.