Once in a while, a show comes along that warms your heart and restores your faith in humanity.
This is not that show.
Set in 2027, Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis' URINETOWN is an hilariously subversive fable of greed, corruption, love, revolution, and urination, in a time when water is worth its weight in gold and there's no such thing as a free pee. Set in a near-future dystopian Gotham, a severe 20-year drought has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets. The citizens are forced to use public "amenities" now, regulated by a single malevolent company that profits by charging admission for one of humanity's most basic needs. In this nightmare world, the punishment for an unauthorized pee is a trip to the dreaded URINETOWN. But from the ruins of Democracy and courtesy flushes, there rises an unlikely hero who decides he's held it long enough, and he launches a People's Revolution to lead them all to urinary freedom!
Inspired by the outrageous political theatre of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, and (very) loosely based on the writings of late eighteenth-century political and economic theorist Thomas Malthus, URINETOWN is a gloriously silly, irreverently truthful satire from which no target is safe, a perverse, comic love letter to The Threepenny Opera, mixed with a funhouse mirror image of Fritz Lang's famous film Metropolis. This is a show that catapults musical comedy into the new millennium with its rule-shattering tear through the traditions and conventions of musical theatre, leaving nothing but uncontrollable laughter and a great big puddle in its wake.
And that's just Act I.
Bruce Weber in The New York Times said, “There simply is no show I’ve seen that gives such a sense that the creators and performers are always on the same page of an elaborate, high-spirited joke, that they are the proud members of a cabal that knows what it takes to make the world a better place and that they are thrilled to share what they know.” He also called the show “a sensational piece of performance art, one that acknowledges theater tradition and pushes it forward as well.” The show was nominated for 9 Tony Awards (winning Best Book and Best Score), 9 Drama Desk Awards, 7 Obie Awards (winning Best Musical), 5 Outer Critics Circle Awards (winning Best Musical), and a Drama League Award for Best Musical. When it opened in New York, the official slogan on the Urinetown T-shirts was “An appalling idea, fully realized.” Actor Daniel Marcus, who played Officer Barrel, said in an interview, “I call it a love letter to the American musical in the form of a grenade.”
New Line first produced Urinetown in 2007. Hollmann and Kotis also wrote the rock musical Yeast Nation, which New Line produced in 2018. New Line is the only professional company that has produced both shows, which Kotis promises are only two-thirds of an ecological disaster trilogy.
The New Line cast included Kent Coffel (Officer Lockstock), Jennelle Gilreath (Little Sally), Kevin Corpuz (Bobby Strong), Melissa Felps (Hope Cladwell), Sarah Gene Dowling (Pennywise), Todd Schaefer (Mr. Cladwell), Marshall Jennings (Officer Barrel), Colin Dowd, Zachary Allen Farmer, Clayton Humburg, Grace Langford, Ian McCreary, Chris Moore, Carrie Wenos, Christopher Strawhun, and Jessica Winingham.
The New Line production was directed by Scott Miller and Chris Kernan, with choreography by Kernan, costume design by Sarah Porter, scenic design by Todd Schaefer, lighting design by Kenneth Zinkl, and sound design by Ryan Day.
Produced by arrangement with Music Theatre International, New York.