Urinetown Closes Off-Broadway Run June 25; Bway and CD Next

News   Urinetown Closes Off-Broadway Run June 25; Bway and CD Next Urinetown, the hit underground musical with the unlikely name, will close its extended Off-Broadway run on June 25 and begin preparations for its Broadway debut in late summer, previews starting Aug. 6, opening set for Sept. 10. The one-time New York International Fringe Festival smash began its commercial life on April 1 at the little known American Theatre of Actors, a 120-seat space at 314 W. 54th Street. Opening night on May 3 was greeted with a chorus of huzzahs, for composers Greg Kotis and Mark Hollman, director John Rando and cast members John Cullum, Jeff McCarthy, Nancy Opel, Hunter Foster and Jennifer Laura Thompson.

Urinetown, the hit underground musical with the unlikely name, will close its extended Off-Broadway run on June 25 and begin preparations for its Broadway debut in late summer, previews starting Aug. 6, opening set for Sept. 10. The one-time New York International Fringe Festival smash began its commercial life on April 1 at the little known American Theatre of Actors, a 120-seat space at 314 W. 54th Street. Opening night on May 3 was greeted with a chorus of huzzahs, for composers Greg Kotis and Mark Hollman, director John Rando and cast members John Cullum, Jeff McCarthy, Nancy Opel, Hunter Foster and Jennifer Laura Thompson.

An extension soon followed and observers wholly expected the satirical piece — about a futuristic, neo-Brechtian land where you have to pay for "the privilege to pee" — to transfer to a larger Off-Broadway house. Instead, it shot straight to Broadway, booking Henry Miller's Theatre, the former home of Cabaret. A CD recording of the show, delayed a couple times, will be released on RCA Victor on Aug. 7.

The 1918 Henry Miller's Theatre, for many years not used as a theatre, came back to legitimate life in 1998 when it was rechristened the Kit Kat Klub and made the base of the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of Cabaret (which has since moved on to Studio 54). With the advent of Cabaret, the Miller was re recognized by the Tony Awards Administration Committee as a Broadway house. A spokesperson at the League of American Theatres and Producers confirmed on May 16 that the Miller remains a Tony-eligible house. Thus, Urinetown may end up the unlikely recipient of nominations or even awards at the end of the 2001-02 Broadway season.

Two-time Tony-winner John Cullum opted to forego playing King Lear in San Francisco this fall in order to move to Broadway with Urinetown. Cullum was set to play Lear Sept. 15-Oct. 7 for the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, but chose to continue as the corporate villain Caldwell B. Cladwell.

The comedy will begin previews Aug. 6 and open Sept. 10 In order to allow for proper teching of the show in the new space and owing to some issues inside the long dormant Henry Miller's (there are no seats there at the moment) producers decided to not begin previews in July. *

The last two weeks of Urinetown saw a couple cast changes. Hunter Foster, who played the earnest urinal attendant and revolutionary Bobby Strong, departed on June 11. Marcus Lovett took up Foster's scrub brush on June 13. Also, Megan Lawrence, who plays Strong's fellow rabble-rouser Little Becky Two-Shoes, left at the same time. Jennifer Cody, recently seen helping out the Cat in the Hat in Seussical, was her replacement.

Foster is expected to return to the role when Urinetown reopens on Broadway in August. The actor is taking a break from the show to work on Summer of 42, a musical for which he wrote the book. Lawrence has an even better excuse for taking a leave of absence. In case audiences haven't noticed, the actress has been pregnant throughout the entire Off-Broadway run. She is now on maternity leave and will return to the Broadway engagement in late October.

Also in the cast are Nancy Opel, well known from various David Ives plays, as Ms. Pennywise; Ken Jennings, the original Toby in Sweeney Todd; and Jennifer Laura Thompson, the female lead in Footloose, as Caldwell's naive daughter. Urinetown is produced by Araca Group and Dodger Theatricals.