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The actor gets serious: "I've outlasted all the others" - he names Richard Kiley, Robert Preston and Alfred Drake, departed musical theater legends - and when Cullum agreed to play Caldwell B. Cladwell, the conniving, evil mogul of the place delicate souls refer to as U-Town, the musical was opening Off-Broadway where the weekly salary for playing the starring role is $400.
For a long time, Cullum says, he resisted going into film largely because an eye injury while playing tennis had paralyzed his left pupil, requiring him to wear a lens for close-ups. "I'd worn one for 'Hawaii'  which was very uncomfortable." His resume continues to be top-heavy with stage work (just before "Urinetown," he was in Lincoln Center's "Serious Money"), but over the years he gained confidence, "so by 'Northern Exposure,' I didn't mind at all."
Cladwell goes to his reward, too - nightly - but one of the many ironies of "Urinetown" is that for all his greed and corruption, "his vision is essentially correct," says Cullum. Water is becoming an increasingly precious commodity; something has to be done. "For all its fun and gaiety, 'Urinetown' does have something to say." He's relieved - if you'll excuse the expression.