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Theatre Horizon stages ‘Urinetown’ in benefit

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STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON 
For Digital First Media

Theatre Horizon’s planning a night of fun in “Urinetown.” A benefit reading of the Tony-winning musical will feature 22 actors — 12 from Broadway and 10 from Philly. They collectively have been in more than 23 Broadway shows and tours and have performed with many Philadelphia theater companies.
“Urinetown” satirically tells the story of a town suffering a drought and water shortage. A large corporation controls the water supply and a group of poorer people put up with it, until one man decides not to anymore.
That show was chosen because it’s good for a concert reading (actors will have scripts in hand and also will perform all of the songs from the show). It’s also funny and smart, said Molly Braverman, the event producer and performance director.
“Our audience is pretty sophisticated,” she said in a telephone interview. “They look for challenging and engaging works that deal with issues around us.”
Braverman, who worked on Broadway and toured in the national company of “Wicked,” is inspired by how the New York and Philadelphia theater communities are coming together to support regional theater, she said.
Cassie Okenka, who toured with Braverman in “Wicked,” plays Hope in the reading. Hope’s torn between her newfound love for the man going against her father and her father, who runs the water-controlling corporation.

Braverman Submitted photo

Molly Braverman
Submitted photo

“Hope has personal involvement in a one percent versus 99 percent situation,” she said in a telephone interview. “She finds out where she stands and what is worth it for her to sacrifice.”
And the music’s entertaining.
“It’s fluffy, but there are also great pieces,” she said.
Okenka has been performing musical theater since she was a kid. She loves the way it touches people in a unique way.
“It’s a type of entertainment that happens once,” she said. “There really is nothing like seeing it just for you, for that audience, at that time.”
She’s looking forward to a relaxed experience compared to other productions.
“It’s a cool way for performers to perform something that is fun and, since we’re doing one-night only and a reading, we can focus more on the fun,” she said. “We don’t have to go through an audition process or rigorous rehearsal or the tech of a show. We get to open this book and explore it, then close it and move on.”
Okenka thinks supporting smaller theaters is important.

Cassie Okenka Submitted photo

Cassie Okenka
Submitted photo

“You don’t know what works, talent, or education they are harboring,” she said. “A lot of people get their start in smaller theaters.”
Braverman, who’s originally from Lower Merion and is the General Manager of Theatre Horizon, in addition to being a performer, believes “wholeheartedly in theater,” she said. “We want to help Theatre Horizon for everything it does — its art and education programs, its outreach into the community.”
Okenka’s looking forward to getting on stage and promises the audience a smart, fun performance, all for a good cause.
“It’s relevant and brings a political aspect that other musicals don’t do as outright. It puts a fun twist on it,” she said. “I’m excited. It’s going to be a good time.”

IF YOU GO

What: “Urinetown” benefit for Theatre Horizon
When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 18.
Where: Theatre Horizon, 401 Dekalb St., Norristown.
Tickets: “Pay What You Decide” from $20 to $100.
Info.: Call (610) 283-2230 or visit www.theatrehorizon.org.

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