I went into Urinetown completely blind. I didn’t listen to the soundtrack, watch any clips from other productions, or do any in-depth research, and I’m glad I didn’t. I was taken for a ride with this impressive production. I was completely enthralled and on the edge of my seat from the moment the curtain went up and until the very moment the curtain was drawn.
There is a lot this production did right. The first thing I’d like to acknowledge is the casting. Each actor filled the mold of their character perfectly and made me forget that they were even acting. Next, the set design. A simple backdrop and multiple swings were used to their full potential and added to the overall show. Lastly, the simple but effective musical numbers were lively and felt throughout the entire performance.
However, despite its many positive attributes, there was still something bothering me. That one, nagging thing? The material itself. Now, don’t get me wrong, acknowledging the audience for comedic effect is something I enjoy, but this production went overboard with it. Almost every scene had a joke about the fact that there was an audience or that it was a musical, and it got old really quickly. I get that the show satirizes the conventions of musical theater, but other shows do it without beating jokes into the ground.
On a final note, Urinetown didn’t earn a slot on my list of favorite musicals, but I’d still recommend it. The entire cast made the material more enjoyable by knowing how and when to emphasize its comedic aspects. It’s also quite amazing that a satire about environmental issues is being produced at this time; it puts those issues into perspective for a modern audience instead of sweeping them downstage. Bravo, Urinetown; take a bow.