While our friends in Southern California are in a drought and suffering with their crunchy brown grass, due to the restrictions on lawn watering, that’s nothing compared to the 20+ year drought happening in Urinetown.
What’s that, you say? You’re in Town?
No. Urine Town.
Urinetown, as in Pee-Pee Town, a town highly focused on urine.
Imagine a place not unlike Southern California, twenty years or more in the future, a world where commercialism has taken over all water consumption, even our rights to private toilets. A pay per flush system is in place (with accompanying laws against going in the bushes), wreaking havoc on everyone’s finances, particularly the poor. That’s the premise of the satiric musical, Urinetown, currently on stage through Sunday.
Performing in the cozy Z. Alexander Looby Theatre, the ramshackle feel of the upcoming play takes hold right away, as the ushers inform patrons on the way to their seats that they’ll need to let one of the play’s officers know if there’s “poor” inhabiting their assigned spots. Try not to get too distracted as you pass the poor’s cardboard and pallet makeshift bedding along the aisles.
Don’t worry; you won’t be spending too much time in dumps. The desolate atmosphere of the play is quickly overshadowed by book and lyric writer Greg Kotis’ clever and witty prose. As the play begins, narrator and lead Police Officer, Officer Lockstock (played by Mike Baum), sucks the audience in with his overly mustached suave look and deadpan humorous commentary. In fact, many of the musical’s most laughable lines are from Officer Lockstock, including his often self-referring comments such as his wisdom conveyed to one of the city’s innocent children, Little Sally (played by local Nashville School of the Arts senior, Marcella Jones ). “Dreams only come true in happy musicals, Little Sally” he tells her, gently crushing her hopes for a positive life outcome.
Perhaps one of the most amusing parts of the show is the way Director Jason Tucker handles the scenes with ghosts of characters killed earlier in the show. Actors Brett Myers (as Old Man Strong) and Easton Curtis (as Bobby Strong) give the audience a hardy laugh as they sway about and speak in their best cartoony ghost voices, reminiscent of the ghosts from a favorite childhood show Scooby Doo. And, just in case you couldn’t tell they’d returned to the show in ghost form, a stage hand quickly runs out to spray canned fog around the characters as they speak, only adding to the hilarious ridiculousness.
Not that one would expect anything less than extraordinary from a local presentation in Music City, but the cast of Urinetown boasts quite the set of pipes. As you listen and watch, you’ll notice many of the songs seem vaguely familiar, which makes sense, since all of them are parodies of songs in other major musicals. But, even if you don’t pick up on the similarities, the tunes are amusing to both hear and watch as more than half the cast parades around doing their best bunny impersonations, as in the song “Don’t be the Bunny.” Or, you’ll find yourself tapping along to “Cop Song” as more than a dozen actors march around in black uniforms, armed with batons and flashlights vowing powerfully to keep the city orderly and clean from public urination!
Presented by Street Theatre Company and winner of Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Direction of a Musical, Urinetown has live performances through Sunday, August 28, 2016. Tickets start at only $16 for students and can be purchased online at streettheatrecompany.org. Be sure to get there early so you can stop in at the play’s selfie booth and snap a quick picture with you and your bestie holding one of the show’s fun props—a toilet plunger seems fitting…
Photo: Kenn Stilger, Heavenly Perspective Photography