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Urinetown remains eerily relevant

The unique scene for Urinetown, Wilson’s fall musical, was set by an opening monologue by Officer Lockstock (Teo Topa). Seeing as other plays usually wouldn’t have a character step out of their theatrical world to speak to the audience, we found it to be quite a bold move, but it worked well. He explained to Little Sally (Gabriella Anifantis) that too much information should not be shared in the exposition of a musical, however, so as to preserve the suspense of the story. Going from there, the opening number performed by the entire cast, was “Urinetown,” an intense and powerful set up for the story of injustice we were about to endure.

The following number, “Privilege to Pee,” performed by Penelope Pennywise (Franny Sewell) and the Rebel Poor ensemble, was a song expressing the main idea of the show: In order to pee, you need to pay. The play was set in an unnamed place, under a drought, and a government-controlling corporation that charges citizens to use the bathroom. As you can imagine, the people don’t like these regulations, and they rebel under the influence of the ever-so-heroic Bobby Strong (Steven Berg). The corporation, Urine Good Company, is run by Caldwell B. Cladwell (Elliot Diner), a corrupt businessman whose narcissism becomes clear in the song “Mr. Cladwell”. Urine Good Company held power over the people and their money.

Cladwell’s daughter, Hope Cladwell (Joey Schulman), is in love with the poor rebel, Bobby Strong, which her father his coworkers are devastated to hear. As Bobby Strong continues to lead the rebellious movement, the corporation’s anger grows and he is taken to “Urinetown”– the audience soon learns that it’s not a real place but only a euphemism for execution. Essentially, the higher powers were lying to its citizens to preserve their reputation.

For a 15-year-old musical, we found the conflicts to be eerily relevant to immediately recent events in the non-theatrical world. The emphasis on democracy and the people’s voice has been just as prevalent in our minds as it is in the musical, and the light-heartedness of the performance brought a smile to our faces. While Urinetown definitely included all elements that commonly appear in any fictional production (i.e. the villain, the perfect daddy’s girl, the hero character, and a forbidden love), the actors did an excellently witty job of getting the underlying theme across. Underneath the jokes and silly characters, we were exposed to a much deeper message– the people will not hesitate to revolt against unjust authority.