Urinetown: The Musical
Mac-Haydn Theatre, Chatham
Even if you don’t like the title, here’s why you’ll enjoy this misunderstood production.
By Andrew Andrews
A twenty year drought leads a town to implement severe water conservation measures, including a ban on private bathrooms.
Instead, residents are required to utilize pay toilets, AKA “public amenities.”
Poor people find themselves wasting most of their day standing in long lines and begging for change to cover the required fee.
Those who attempt to circumvent the system, administered by Mr. Cladwell’s Urine Good Company, are immediately exiled to the mysterious “Urinetown.”
Bobby Strong, the assistant custodian at one such amenity, decides that enough is enough, after his father is exiled for relieving himself in public because he can’t afford the fee. Inspired by Mr. Cladwell’s beautiful daughter, Hope, Bobby starts a revolution to give everyone free access to the amenities.
Satirizing everything from capitalism and social justice issues to Broadway musicals themselves, Urinetown enjoyed a three year run on the Great White Way in the early 2000s, winning three Tony Awards out of ten nominations.
Before I even reached the venue, I knew this was going to be a great production: firstly, because Mac-Haydn always puts on a good musical; and secondly, because Urinetown is such a fun show, I even enjoyed when I saw it performed by students last year at The CENTER for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck!
Wearing grungy costumes that look straight out of the sewer, the large cast delivers the same tight choreography and professional portrayals that we’ve come to expect from the company.
Urinetown’s script doesn’t just break the fourth wall, it assaults it, with narration by Officer Lockstock and commentary by Little Sally that constantly references the musical itself instead of just the story it contains.
“I don’t think too many people are going to come see this musical, Officer Lockstock,” she protests.
“Why do you say that, Little Sally? Don’t you think that people want to be told that their way of life is unsustainable?”
“That—and the title’s awful!” she explains.
Full of upbeat, catchy songs and a book that makes serious social criticism sound like silly child’s play, Urinetown is as timelessly relevant and always entertaining as a musical can be. So get past any hangups you might have about the title, grab the whole family, and head to Chatham to catch it while you can.
Just remember to use the amenities before the show begins, because all that talk about peeing results in some pretty long lines during intermission!
Andrew Andrews attended Urinetown: The Musical at Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham on Saturday, July 9, 2022 @ 4:00pm to write this review.
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