Friday, Jul. 20 2012 8:46AM
Poor people’s palace
Musical “Urinetown” features Lee’s Summit resident in lead role
By Toriano Porter
Alyssa Cooper will return to college this fall at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau and she’ll continue her quest for a degree in musical theatre.
But, before she heads south, she’ll showcase her talents in a leading role capacity as Hope Cladwell in the musical “Urinetown,” which begins tonight at 8:30 and runs through July 22 at The Theatre in the Park in Shawnee, Kan.
The play also runs July 26-29 at the same venue.
In her fourth appearance in a Theatre in the Park production, this is only Cooper’s second leading role.
“I am super excited,” said Cooper, who is a junior-to-be at SEMO and a graduate of Lee’s Summit North High School. “This is only my second leading role that I’ve had, so it’s kinda exciting to actually get up there and perform.”
The play is directed by David Hastings, who said Cooper’s audition tape stood out from hundreds of submissions.
“She is fantastic,” Hastings said of Cooper. “She is a clearly gifted musical theatre performer and we’ve been so fortunate to have her in our cast. When she auditioned she sent in video audition. When I watched the video auditions it was very clear that she was a really good candidate to play the lead role in the show.
“Her work ethic is unbelievable and she just has this beautiful voice and is a really funny, gifted actress.”
According to press information released by The Theatre in the Park, “Urinetown” is a satirical musical that takes place when there is a global water shortage. Water is controlled by one corporation – Urine Good Company, which is owned by Caldwell B. Cladwell, Hope’s father – and the poorest people have to pay to relieve themselves.
If they don’t, they’re sent to the mysterious Urinetown.
“Hope is very bubbly and energetic,” Cooper said of her role. “And, overall, very naive. She’s the daughter of the big tycoon of the town – she’s kinda the opposite of her father. She believes that there is good in everyone. She believes that everybody has a heart. She’s kinda like a peacemaker. She just wants the world to be a better place, but her dad is really more in it for the money.”
Copper’s lead opposite her on stage is Eric Geil, who plays Bobby Strong, Hope’s love interest. Working with Geil under the direction of Hastings has proved to be an exceptional experience for Cooper.
“It was great,” Cooper said of rehearsing with Geil. “We’re the same age (20-years-old), so it’s great to work with someone who will actually also do this for a living as well. He’s phenomenal. He was so great to work with.
“Working with David is great. He’s such a great director because he just wants us as actors to grow. If something feels awkward he’ll just say, ‘tell me’ and he’ll let you do whatever you like with the character. He’ll tell you if you’ve definitely gone too far.”