Rachel Fennel grew up roaming the halls of her local theater company in Massachusetts, The Burlington Players.
This year, after a long career in educational and technical theater, Fennel opened her own theater in St. Petersburg: Ghostlight Young Company.
The theater’s first show, “Urinetown,” will cast young adults (rising eighth grade and up) and adults for a September musical.
It’s a punchy, satirical comic-book-like musical number set in a dystopian city so environmentally devastated that private toilets are no longer feasible. In short, rich folks in the local politicians pocket cause the plumbing rates to skyrocket. The play is based on a book by Greg Kotis with music by both Kotis and Mark Hollmann.
“When I was hanging out flyers, people were like ‘does this really say “Urinetown,” as in urine?” Fennel said. “It’s a great allegory for America.”
Auditions will unfold at The Pruitt Arts Education Center in the Warehouse Arts District. Ghostlight, for the moment, is a traveling company. They’ll hold rehearsal at multiple venues in St. Pete’s Warehouse Arts District.
Fennel hopes to host the final production at Gulfport’s Catherine Hickman Theater in September. Aside from being a budding theater company, Ghostlight is different because of its educational aspect.
“I want to teach kids the basics of theater,” Fennel said. “It’s the three-dimensional parts of it that a lot of people never learn. We’re going to infuse learning into every part of the rehearsal process.”
The theater company will focus on teaching actors the proper way to sing without harming young vocal cords, the history of theater, and the details of show business.
“The ages of characters run from teenagers to adults,” Fennel said. “I’ve found in my experience, when you mix teens with adults, there’s so much learning that goes on.”
Stacie Steinke, the musical director for “Urinetown” met Fennel while starring as Mary Ann in the Gulfport Community Players production of “Gilligan’s Island the Musical” at the Catherine Hickman Theater.
Fennel was on the technical team for the play and the two women connected because of their love for local theater.
“’Urinetown’ is a kind of sarcastic tongue-in-cheek look at musicals and all the different tropes that come with them,” Steinke said.
You’ve got your boy-meets-girl moment, duets, a sad solo dissecting big government.
“That’s all I’ll say for now,” Steinke said with a laugh.
“Urinetown” auditions: The Pruitt Arts Education Center, 515 22nd St. S., St. Petersburg. June 26-27; 6:30 p.m.