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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Meet the cast: Richard Chason plays villian in ‘Urinetown’

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Check out ‘Urinetown’ starting Dec. 4

“I think it’s an invitingly bad title,” reflects Richard Chason on the name of the musical in which he will be performing. Even though “Urinetown” might not sound like an appealing production, Chason assures that it has a lot of humor that belies “a powerful, poignant drama about the plight of humanity.”
Chason, an English and Theatre Arts major, plays the role of Caldwell B. Cladwell and relishes the opportunity to play the antagonist in this musical. Having been in two other productions of “Urinetown” and understudied for the role seven years prior, Chason is excited to play the baritone voiced “old-timey villain.”
Few roles in contemporary musicals have parts for baritone singers, so the two solo songs that Chason’s character sings gives him a chance to showcase a deep, robust voice.
Having seen and listened to the way others have portrayed the character, Chason is determined to present his own version of the villain. As part of preparing to perform the role, Chason will cut and dye his hair to better channel a certain famous, uniquely-coiffed New York real estate mogul.
Even though Caldwell B. Cladwell is the man in power who everyone despises, Chason is resistant to play the character simply as a villain. In poring over the script, he realized that the character is much more empathetic and justly-motivated in his actions. “It’s always exciting and challenging to find the heroism in the villain.”
Beyond getting into character, the feat of performing a musical is in itself a challenge. Chason notes, “musicals are always inherently more difficult than straight dramas.” But Chason is no stranger to being in musical productions, having performed from the age of 10.
He has been in numerous productions both in school and in community theatre. “Urinetown” marks his fifth production at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He has also performed in “Lysistrata,” “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “The Seagull,” and in the student playwright festival, for which he also wrote a play.
Although he has been a part of theater for much of his life, he had not always considered it seriously as a possible career. Growing up, he saw it as no more than a hobby. More than as an actor or singer, Chason sees himself as a playwright and hopes to go on to graduate studies at New York University’s esteemed Tisch School of the Arts to further develop his skills.
Still, Chason has found it rewarding to work within UMass Boston’s small but growing community of theater arts students. “There’s nothing like working on a play because it’s so social and collaborative. That’s one of the reasons why I love theater, because of the communal atmosphere.”
See Chason and the rest of the cast perform in “Urinetown” on Dec. 4, Dec. 5, Dec. 6, and Dec. 7. Tickets are $10 for UMass Boston students and $20 for the general public. Tickets are at the door and online. For more information, visit www.umb.edu/urinetown.