Archive of "Urinetown: The Musical"

Book by Greg Kotis. Music by Mark Hollmann
E.C. Mabie Theatre
April 2011

List of Artistic Staff for Urinetown
Creative Staff  
Director & Choreographed John Clarence Cameron
Musical Director Michael Schnack
Co-Choreographer Mauria Brough
Scenic Designer Amanda Helland
Costume Designer Mia Khayat
Lighting Designer Bryon Winn
Sound Designer Jeff Crone & Lindsay Wolf
Stage Manager Jennifer Sears
Dramaturg Christopher Okiishi

 The Musical" The Musical" The Musical" The Musical"

List of Cast members for Urinetown
Cast - in order of appearance  
Officer Lockstock Kendall Lloyd
Little Sally Lauren Brickman
Bobby Strong Alex Lamb
Cladwell John Watkins
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
Chorus Kaitlyn Busbee
  Kim Cooper
  Sydney Hayes
  Scott Myers
  Megan Renner
Reeds (Saxes, Clarinets) James Skretta
Trombone Aaron Gaither
Piano Robert Monroe
Bass Olivia Rose Muzzy
Drums Cassius Goens

"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!


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