Archive of "Urinetown: The Musical"
Book by Greg Kotis. Music by Mark Hollmann
E.C. Mabie Theatre
|Director & Choreographed||John Clarence Cameron|
|Musical Director||Michael Schnack|
|Scenic Designer||Amanda Helland|
|Costume Designer||Mia Khayat|
|Lighting Designer||Bryon Winn|
|Sound Designer||Jeff Crone & Lindsay Wolf|
|Stage Manager||Jennifer Sears|
|Cast - in order of appearance|
|Officer Lockstock||Kendall Lloyd|
|Little Sally||Lauren Brickman|
|Bobby Strong||Alex Lamb|
|Hope Cladwell||Lauren Baker|
|Penelope Pennywise||Kristi Starnes|
|Officer Barrel||Brian Quijada|
|Mr. McQueen||Andres Enriquez|
|Senator Fipp||Kyle Niemer|
|Old Man Strong/Hot Blades Harry||Derrick VanDerMillen|
|Josephine Strong||Melina Neves|
|Soupy Sue/Cladwell's Secretary||Courtney Eaddy-Richardson|
|Tiny Tom/Dr. Billeaux||Kjai Block|
|Little Becky Two-Shoes /Mrs. Millenium||Katie Consamus|
|Robby the Stockfish/UGC Executive #2||Andrew Wilkes|
|Billy Boy Bill/UGC Executive #1||Sam Hawkins|
|Reeds (Saxes, Clarinets)||James Skretta|
|Bass||Olivia Rose Muzzy|
"It's a Privilege to Pee"
by Christopher Okiishi
To say that Urinetown has humble beginnings may be an understatement. Certainly, many musicals have been set in Paris and its surroundings. Gigi, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, among others, have explored the French city from top to bottom, following passion and heartbreak from the heights of the Opera House to the depths of the sewers. But until Urinetown, the pay toilets of Paris had never inspired much in the way of great theater. All this would change in 1995 when playwright Greg Kotis, then a struggling student, made a visit to the City of Lights. Unlike other areas in Europe, where public restrooms were essentially gratis, the Paris facilities were largely pay-for-use. As he had all but run out of money, yet had several days left on his trip, this unexpected expense proved quite significant and Kotis found himself having to choose between eating and, well, the opposite of eating. Thus were born the opening scenes to Urinetown, and in particular, the idea behind the song, "It's a Privilege to Pee."
Upon returning to Chicago, he and composer-librettist Mark Hollmann, friends since 1987 and compatriots at the Cardiff-Giant Theater Company, began to flesh out this idea. Hollmann was a graduate of the BMI Lehman Engel Music Theater Workshop. Founded in 1967 by the Broadway composer Lehman Engel, this workshop has fostered the talents of two generations of musical theater composers including Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime, Seussical), Bobby Lopez (Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon), Alan Menken (Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast) and Edward Kleban (A Chorus Line). As part of the workshop, Hollmann studied the structural underpinnings of the great Broadway musicals. It was this craft that he brought to Urinetown.
The music specifically parodies previous musicals such as The Cradle Will Rock, Les Miserables, and Sweeney Todd. It harkens most, though, to the musicals of Kurt Weill, whose work echoes both stylistically and thematically through Urinetown. Additionally, the show is tied to the work of 19th century British scholar Thomas Malthus, whose work addressed global over-population and became the foundation of future work by Charles Darwin and others. In comparison to other satirical musicals of its time, such as Bat Boy: the Musical, Silence!, and Charles Manson the Musical, Urinetown boasts a sophisticated structure, using and honoring the time-tested rules of the book musical while still achieving anarchic comic hilarity. Some of this comic acuity can be attributed to the authors' involvement with the Neo-Futurists and the Second City theaters of Chicago. The Neo-Futurists were the first to offer a home to Urinetown, scheduling it for production in 1999. Funding, however, fell through and this production never happened. Kotis and Hollmann had by then moved to New York and, using their newfound contacts, secured a berth in the 2000 New York Fringe Festival. With little time or money, this production was done on the cheap and featured many friends from Chicago Theater. In spring of 2001, the production opened at the decrepit American Theater of Actors, a perfect location for a show whose design aesthetic reveled in the dingy surroundings. Indeed, many of the low-budget Fringe Festival elements continued on in the show, including using spray aerosol cans in lieu of fog machines. Joining the cast at this point was Broadway veteran John Cullum (1776, On the Twentieth Century) who is credited with lending a legitimacy to the production that, in addition to positive reviews and sell-out audiences, resulted in a Broadway transfer that fall.
Set to open on September 13, 2001, the show was put on hold due to the events of September 11th. It opened one week late, on September 20, 2001-the first musical to open after 9/11. After an initial struggle the show found an audience and ran 965 performances. In spring 2002, Urinetown received 10 Tony Award nominations, winning Best Book, Best Score and Best Direction of a Musical. It eventually closed in January of 2004. In the years since, Urinetown has become a favorite in regional theaters across the nation and the world with over 100 productions licensed each year. And as far as has been reported, no patrons have been required to pay to use the facilities. Yet!