Posted October 11, 2011

Talented sophomore takes on revolutionary role in Urinetown

  • Luis Fernando Rodriguez Cameron Slusser and the cast of Urinetown rehearse the first show of the 2011 Temple Theater season.
  • Luis Fernando Rodriguez Cameron Slusser (Bobby Strong) and Katie Johantgen rehearse for Urinetown, the first show in the 2011 Temple Theater season.

Cameron Slusser landed his first part in musical theater after his elementary school music teacher pegged him for a lead role in Rags; the story of a young, Russian immigrant struggling with issues of cultural assimilation and identity.

Although Slusser didn’t understand the complexity of the story, he sensed that his part was important. From that point on, he knew that he wanted to pursue a career in acting.

“As a fourth grader, I didn’t really understand the seriousness of the storyline,” said Slusser. “I was just acting and doing what came naturally.”

Now a Temple sophomore musical theater major, Slusser is gearing up to play Bobby Strong, the complicated yet comedic hero of Urinetown, a comedy musical that takes a stab at corporate greed and political corruption.

It’s the type of story that causes the audience to think twice about the world we live in, said Slusser.

“It’s a really interesting work that makes you think about what we pay for in today’s world,” he said. “The seriousness of the story is balanced by a lot of great music, singing and choreography; it’s a great show all around.”

Set in a small town suffering the effects of a 20-year drought, the story opens with citizens lined up to pay for corporate-owned toilets. As the story progresses, limits on bodily functions lead to chaos, but before all is lost Bobby Strong appears to lead the people toward change.

“Bobby is a revolutionist, he was a really fun character to get to know and really delve into,” said Slusser. “Becoming the character and living as that person can be very therapeutic experience and release emotions; I get a lot out on stage.”

Urinetown became a smash hit on Broadway, winning three Tony Awards, including Best Score and Best Book of a Musical, while virtually transforming the world of musical comedy. Temple’s production is directed by Theater Department Assistant Chair Peter Reynolds, who heads the musical theater program.

Playing a leading role where he gets to sings, dance and act takes a lot of work on Slusser’s part. In addition to keeping up with his acting courses, Slusser, a dance minor, also takes voice training and dance classes throughout the week.

“Cameron is loaded with talent and charisma, the raw materials that can't be taught in a classroom or studio,” said Reynolds. “In addition, he has proven himself a consummate professional in rehearsal. He is eager, inquisitive and impressively focused on honing his skills. I look forward to the things Cameron can accomplish — he is gifted and he knows how to work hard.”