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“Urinetown: The Musical”: See It To PEE-lieve It”

Review by Blair Godshall of ‘Urinetown: The Musical”: American Legacy Theatre/Thomas Moore University Villa Players

The American Legacy Theatre and Thomas Moore University’s co-production “Urinetown, the Musical,” opened Thursday night. So what does an audience member think about a show whose title can be so repellant it’s a running joke throughout the play?

This comedy-musical-parody-satire is based on the human right to pee for free. Reminiscent of Les Miserables (both have a shortage of toilets and basic human dignity), a water shortage caused by a 20-year drought has left the impoverished residents desperate and corrupt ones wealthy.

The law of the land declares that all private toilets are government banned. Citizens must pay to use public facilities. One greedy company’s got a monopoly over the toilets and makes a hefty profit price gouging bathroom admission costs. Any attempt to forego paying to urinate or “going in the bushes” gets violators arrested and “exiled” to the unseen, unknown “Urinetown.” This is not, as narrator and cop Officer Lockstock (Sophomore Joseph Waterbury-Tieman) says, “a happy musical.”

The title “Urinetown” is pretty on the nose and bound to include songs like “It’s a Privilege to Pee” and “I See A River.” While it seems a bit crude and disgusting, there really isn’t much in the way of adolescent, crass potty humor. Like most satire, there’s a deeper meaning but it’s drowning in a figurative and literal pool of urine. What is a basic human right and what is a commodity and how are those used and abused?

Director Greg Procaccino clearly worked with the ensemble to create a hilarious, energetic show and although it didn’t drag, I could tell the ensemble was a bit nervous and singing notes fell flat a few times. Unfortunately, the sound issues were so distracting I missed lyrics to songs and lines that I think were meant to be comical.

Kate Altieri’s choreography was so engaging and a perfect way to elevate the story. Her choreography and staging was uplifting and diverse and it helped immensely to pull the ensemble back when it became a bit chaotic.

 I felt the cast as a whole was greater than the sum of its parts and the group numbers were always fun (and funny) to watch. Junior Elizabeth Butler played Little Sally in such a convincing way I couldn’t help but watch her almost all the time and Sophomore Lena Bauer as Penelope Pennywise absolutely blew me away with her sustained, high belting notes and comedic timing.

URINETOWN: The Musical runs Nov 14-24.
Presented by American Legacy Theatre & Thomas More University
Thomas More University.Link to official page https://university.thomasmore.edu/student-life/clubs-and-activities/theatre-villa-players/