Forget the name. This is the best musical to come along since the revival of Chicago, some years back. Strutting the smartest, most-disarmingly self-conscious point of view in memory, Urinetown grabs you by the lapels and doesn't let go until after the final curtain.

Conceived by Greg Kotis during an underfunded backpacking trip through Europe, in which he barely had the money to use a pay-toilet, Urinetown parlays the current corporate-controlled government trend toward the privatization of public resources into an hilarious and biting high-energy satire.

With a recognizable nod toward some thoughtful genres (Brecht, in particular, and post-modernism, in general) and a slew of famous Broadway shows (West Side Story, Annie, Guys and Dolls, Les Misérables, et al.), Kotis, co-creator and composer Mark Hollmann, and choreographer John Carrafa thankfully avoid the pop music trap that has produced so many forgettable musicals in the last decade, and prove that melody and an eclectic mix of musical styles is still the formula for success.

Photo of Christiane Noll as Hope Cladwell and Charlie Pollock as the rebellious Bobby Strong
Christiane Noll as Hope Cladwell
and Charlie Pollock as Bobby Strong
Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Bobby Strong (Charlie Pollock) is a poor boy who works for the multi-national private latrine monopoly, the Urine Good Company. Hope Cladwell (Christiane Noll) is the recently graduated daughter of the chairman of the company, Caldwell B. Cladwell (Ron Holgate).

Photo of Ron Holgate (center) as Caldwell B. Cladwell, president and owner of Urine Good Co., and the ensemble
Ron Holgate (center)
as Caldwell B. Cladwell, president
and owner of Urine Good Co.,
and the ensemble
Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

The kids meet and fall in love, but daddy doesn't approve. Worse yet, Bobby is trying to organize the people to resist the corporate state's attempt to tax bodily functions.

Meanwhile the poor, epitomized by Little Sally (Meghan Strange), are slowly being squeezed to death between ruthless rate hikes and the corrupt cops that patrol for lawbreakers trying to take a free whiz, while Cladwell, and the senators in his pocket, worry about their next vacation.

Noll's operatic voice is pre-eminent among a host of good singers, and the dancing is up to the high standards of the Broadway favorites from which a portion of the choreography has been borrowed. The industrial superstructure surrounding the stage sets the tone for a world inprisoned by greed and brainwashed by greedy plutocrats, yet leaves the playing area open for quick scene changes that keep the action moving at a brisk pace.

With only a two-week run in Denver, tickets for Urinetown should be at a premium. 303-893-4100.

Bob Bows


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