Urinetown The Musical

Time to get dressed up, go to the theatre and watch people sing about pee!

I wasn't sure what to expect from a musical about a town named after bodily fluids.  I don't think I really expected much.

But don't make the mistake of letting the name scare you. Urinetown is a funny, satirical, over-the-top, energy rush.  The quirky musical, which opened this week at the Wilshire Theatre, is full of toe tapping songs, great choreography and perfect for anyone with an offbeat sense of humor.

 

The premise is not what you'd expect from a traditional musical.  The story is introduced by Officer Lockstock (Jeff McCarthy) who narrates the show with his side-kick Little Sally (Meghan Strange), a penniless street urchin.

Officer Lockstock explains that the nameless city in which they live is suffering from an endless drought.  The water shortage is so severe that private bathrooms have been outlawed. Citizens must now pay outrageous fees to use the public latrines run by a greedy corporation.

 

Those who cannot pay get dragged off to Urinetown, a mysterious and sinister place from which no one has returned. Finally, one latrine manager, Bobby Strong (Charlie Pollock) leads the people in a rebellion. The catch is that the young beauty he falls in love with is (surprise!) Hope (Christiane Noll) the daughter of the corporation's evil president, Caldwell Caldwell (Ron Holgate).

The cast of Urinetown is just about perfect.  They consistently belted out number after number in perfect pitch. The choreography was fun, fast-paced and completely original.  And the cast members pulled it off without a hitch.

Jeff McCarthy gives a smart comic performance as the corrupt cop.  He takes several big risks during his narration that always produced great bursts of laughter.  I couldn't help but smile at every pee holding pose.  John Cullum is also wonderful as the greedy mogul Caldwell B. Cladwell. His dark, hysterical performance of "Don't Be the Bunny" was an absolute showstopper. 

Spencer Kayden was a pleasant surprise as the smarter-than-she-seems Little Sally. Throughout the show she astutely points out every ridiculous truth to the formula of traditional musical theatre.  The musical is in fact completely self aware and this is a running gag throughout the show.

Christiane Noll and Charlie Pollock were well cast as the starry-eyed, naïve young couple in love.  Although at times I thought their sappy love tunes (played overly sappy for effect) seemed to drag, the quality of their voices was just amazing.

Despite the fact that Urinetown is filled with countless potty jokes, the show is clever, well produced and well performed.  It is able to both celebrate and satirize the greatness and the absurdity of most Broadway musicals.  And while self-reflexive humor can often be annoying if overused, Urinetown is consistently hilarious.  It has a dark and slightly perverse humor about itself and should not be missed.

 

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