What is Urinetown?
“We’re doing a musical called Urinetown.”
“What? You’re in town?”
“No, urine, like pee, pee-town.”
So goes the conversation when anyone involved in Laurier Musical Theatre’s production of Urinetown: The Musical explains what they’ve been doing with all of their free time since September. This is LMT’s third production, the previous tow being the successful stagings of Hair (2004) and Fame (2005).
Urinetown is a musical with a bit of an identity crisis. It is both a laugh-out-loud comedy and a tear-jerking tragedy (to find out how, buy yourself a ticket!) It is both light, fluffy entertainment and thought provoking social commentary.
The premise is simple: everyone has to pee, boy meets girl, boy starts revolution, boy kidnaps girl and, after several song and dance numbers, boy and gitl eventually discover the answer to the central question, “What is Urinetown?”
The more in-depth version is that sometime in the future, after a long drought and years of mismanaged water consumption, there is almost no water left anywhere, and because of this, private toilets are outlawed. A massive corporation (the Urine Good Company, or UGC) headed by the sinister Caldwell B. Cladwell controls public amenities all over the city at which you have to pay to pee. Our story takes place at the poorest, filthiest urinal in town, where assistant custodian Bobby Strong decides to begin a revolution to allow the people to pee for free wherever they like, with whomever they like. However, running a revolution is tough, especially when you’ve got a somewhat crazed and full-bladdered poor pitted against wealthy UGC executives and two cynical and slightly sadistic cops.
The musical also pokes fun at the conventions of musical theatre. Officer Lockstock, both head cop and omniscient narrator, welcomes the audience to “Urinetown – not the place of course, the musical.” This kicks of the tounge-in-cheek attitude of the show, which parodies everything from traditional love duets, cheesy slow-motion sequences, tap dancers that appear out of nowhere, bad show titles, and general melodrama.
On a more serious note, however, the show examines important – and relevant – issues such as environmental sustainability, corrupt politicians, class struggle and corporate tyranny.
The creative team, cast and crew are comprised of Laurier students from all different programs and years. For all you know, the person sitting next to you (right now!) is one of LMT’s triple threat performers. Now, after all this talk about Urinetown, you’ll probably want to run out and get your tickets – or run and use the bathroom, which, fortunately for now, you can do for free whenever you like, whenever you like, with whomever you like.
“Urinetown? Do you really think that people are going to come and see this musical?”
“Why wouldn’t they?”
“People don’t like being told that their way of life is unsustainable. That, and the title’s awful.”