Director Bennett and his actors are expected to delight audiences with the play’s premiere
From the savannas of Africa to the deserts of Nevada, the circle of life hits close to home for director Tim Bennett. The former resident director of the Las Vegas production of The Lion King is putting away the animal puppets and pursuing the privilege to pee. Which is why the theater faculty at the UNLV has decided to bring in Bennett to direct their upcoming production of Urinetown.
Urinetown, the satirical musical about a water shortage forcing people to pay to use the restroom, will close out Nevada Conservatory Theatre’s 10th anniversary season.
Theater faculty member Rayme Cornell was referred to Bennett to work as a speech coach on The Lion King, and when the production closed, she reached out to Bennett to direct Urinetown.
Bennett is a Pennsylvania native and no stranger to the entertainment business. Starting off as an actor, he appeared in the national tour of Anything Goes and shot an episode of Growing Pains. Bennett claims to have been drawn into direction theater due to his affinity for the process of storytelling.
His most recent directing credits include regional productions of Rent and High School Musical. In a short amount of time, Bennett managed to put together a talented cast.
Despite having only two days to audition, the cast includes some of Las Vegas’ most lauded actors.
Joan Sobel, actress from Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular and Adam Kozlowski, actor from The Lion King are set to join the cast of graduate and undergraduate students.
With the combination of a professional director and professional actors, the students can also expect a professional setting.
“We’re working on this show in exactly the same manner that I work on professional shows,” Bennett said. “I’m not treating it any differently or doing anything different than I would at any other theatre.”
Cornell thinks Bennett’s direction ultimately benefits the students’ careers, since professional relationships can eventually lead to future acting opportunities. The quality of the student actors’ performance will likely demonstrate the influence of Bennett’s mastery in directing theater.
Though Bennett has directed Urinetown in the past, he strives to differentiate this production from the last.
“I’ve completely blocked that other production out of my mind because I don’t want it to influence this one,” Bennett said. “I started with just the script, as if it were a brand new show, and am starting the process out with the basic questions — what is the show about, what is the message of the show?”
Urinetown may be his first production with UNLV, but Bennett hopes to make a lasting imprint on the Nevada Conservatory Theatre.
“NCT is a hidden gem in the Las Vegas community,” Bennett said. “Every show is a quality production, an experience not to be missed.”
The NCT will present Urinetown in the Judy Bayley Theater on May 3 through May 11. Tickets are $10 for students and $20-$30 for the public.