GVSU Louis Armstrong Theatre 2:00pm Row E Center 13-14
This 2001 Broadway show doesn't show up often, but that's a shame. This is the most meta musical I've ever seen. Think Les Miserables love child with Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and Into The Woods, with healthy side orders of Rent, West Side Story and Firefly -- which should just confuse you.
Urinetown is about a terrible drought and the evil corporation which controls the pay toilet racket, centered around Public Amenity #9. Urinetown The Musical, as we are constantly reminded by the narrator Officer Krupke, er... Officer Lockstock, is about Urinetown the state of mind. He channeled Clancy Brown's Captain Byron Hadley from The Shawshank Redemption and tells Little Sally that he's safe because they can't kill the narrator -- obviously he hadn't ever seen Into The Woods. Little Sally was as short as he was tall, but this worldly little girl, whose job is to ask As You Know Bob questions of the narrator, held her own and belted her numbers with abandon.
This is the story of greed and fear denying basic human services to the population at great profit -- a metaphor in today's terms of all those 1%-ers who want to gut the ACA and can't see why anyone would sanely propose raising the minimum wage, even while their compensations soar. Also a story of the ultimate abject failure of the socialist revolution. Oh, and love. Also bunnies. (Don't Be The Bunny)
Our heroic and hopelessly innocent and romantic couple Bobby and Hope were played superbly. Hope's father, the CEO of Urine Goods Hands, is deliciously reptilian and evil. Amazingly, the actors doing Bobby and the CEO swapped roles over the two weeks. All the voices were strong and well matched. The over-the-top choreography was simply stunning and everyone I think had a terrific time.
And in the middle of the chaos, there was a dog. An old heavy incredibly calm in the face of madness Bassetthound, even when pushed around in a shopping cart or carried. I have no idea if the dog is called for in the script -- he's never mentioned in any of the dialogue. But he was very, very good.
Urinetown is unique. Equal parts social commentary and spoof of the musical. If you EVER have a qhance to see this show, please do. Cole, are you listening?
*** Update 11:40pm -- In case it's not clear, despite the claim by the narrator that this isn't a happy musical with a happy ending, Little Sally is right that the music IS happy and the whole show is fun. The revolutionaries adopt a gospel/revival style and the CEO's exhortation to Don't Be The Bunny is hilarious. -- Dr. Phil