Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Urinetown
. . . .


Robert Downes - November 3rd, 2008
Warning! Be careful you don’t pee your pants laughing when you see
Urinetown at the Old Town Playhouse this month.
Having seen the play myself several years ago in Toronto, I can guarantee it’s one of the funniest, most offbeat and thought-provoking musicals ever to hit the stage.
Director Phil Murphy agrees. “I saw ‘Urinetown’ in 2003 on Broadway and was just floored by it,” he recalls. “It was the funniest play I’d ever seen -- the funniest musical. It’s sort of ‘anti’ theatre -- satire at its best. It’s got everything, including a story of government corruption, corporate greed, mob rule and the poor conservancy of resources, all while satirizing Broadway musicals themselves.”
So, what’s the story behind Urinetown? It’s the tale of a city plagued by a 20-year drought, where things have gotten so dry that there’s a government-enforced ban on private toilets. The citizens are forced to use public restrooms, “regulated by a single malevolent company that profits by charging admission for one of humanity’s most basic needs.”
And some of the folks onstage are tired of paying to pee. Out of the masses, a hero arises, who leads a revolution that involves plenty of comic songs and dance numbers that poke fun at Broadway hits such as Les Misérables, Evita, Annie and West Side Story. There’s even a boiling bunny scene, reminiscent of Fatal Attraction.

“‘Urinetown’ is part of a trend in 21st century theatre that is almost anti-theatrical,” says Murphy, who also serves as executive director of the Old Town Playhouse. “There’s a sense of deconstructing what we’ve become used to as the typical conventions of theatre.”
That includes a minimalist, deconstructed set created to get across the idea that you’re in a gloomy, Gotham-style city in decline, while keeping one foot in the parallel world of the theater. “We’re cutting away the walls in the set so that you can see the blank wall of the stage,” Murphy says. “The idea is to create a post-modern world that’s a police state, even though the characters are aware that they’re also participants in a play.”
And, although Urinetown may be revolutionizing theatre for the ‘00s, its roots are in the agitprop theatre of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill who radicalized theatre in Germany in the 1930s. Their style of ironic, self-aware theatre with dark themes influenced generations of writers, including the likes of Jack Kerouac and Bob Dylan.
Urinetown’s cast includes a mix of old favorites and newcomers to the OTP stage, with Brett Nichols performing as Bobby Strong, Lars Kelto as Officer Lockstock, Alissa Korson as Hope, Keith Firstenberg as Cladwell, Jeff Buday as McQueen, Jamie Moyer as Little Sally and Nan Worthington as Penelope Pennywise, among others.

“It took three years from the time ‘Urinetown’ was available to our being able to stage it this season,” Murphy says. “People will walk out of this play laughing themselves hoarse, but also with something to think about.”
Murphy has directed or acted in more plays than he can remember since arriving in Traverse City in the late ‘70s.
“I go back to 1977 with the Old Town Playhouse,” he says. “In the winter of 1978 I was in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ playing Perchik, and 17 years later I was onstage here as Tevye, so I went from playing a young man to the old guy in that time.”
He has enjoyed a long and illustrious career in theatre, beginning with his days in Ann Arbor, where he received a Masters degree in theatre management at the University of Michigan. He managed U-M’s professional theatre program during his graduate studies and then took a job managing the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Stage Company before returning to Traverse City and his longstanding role as architect of the Old Town Playhouse’s success.
Since then, he’s done everything in the theater from designing sets and handling the lighting to acting and directing in shows such as 1776, Wives of an American King, Assassins, Inherit the Wind, Sweet Charity, Mulan, and Beauty and the Beast, to name a few.
But Urinetown is clearly a plum for Murphy and he expects to do a plumber’s job of making the play right, tight and outta’sight.
Bonus: the playhouse is partnering with local organizations including the Grand Traverse Land Conservancy, the Watershed Center, SEEDS and Listening to the River to raise awareness of water conservation issues. Look for their input in the OTP program.
Also of note, thanks to a State grant, the playhouse will also be offering a ‘pay-what-you-can’ preview performance on Thursday, Nov. 6 for those who can’t afford the regular rates. “Anybody is welcome to attend and pay whatever they’re able until we fill the house.”

Urinetown runs Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 6-29 with two Sunday matinees at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at $20 online at www.oldtownplayhouse.com.

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