Unbelievable as it may seem, Urinetown! is to be the first musical of the 2001-02 Broadway season.
The hit Off-Off-Broadway musical comedy is moving into a bigger, er, facility. Starting in late July, the Henry Miller's Theatre on W. 43rd Street near Seventh Avenue will be the show's home, a show spokesman told Playbill On-Line. Greg Kotis and Mark Hollman's satirical, neo-Brechtian spoof is currently housed in the American Theatre of Actors, a 120-seat space at 314 W. 54th Street, where it opened on April 1 and will run until July 2. The Miller boasts 500-plus seats.
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.
The cast of Urinetown! went into the recording studio on May 15. RCA will commit the score to CD, to be released July 10, according to a press spokesman. Since beginning previews April 1, has collected nine Drama Desk Award nominations. The amusingly titled Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann satirical show — the hit of 1999's New York International Fringe Festival — was cited by the Drama Desk organization for best musical, best music, best lyrics and best book. Also nominated were director John Rando, choreographer John Carrafa, orchestrator Bruce Coughlin, and actors Spencer Kayden and Jeff McCarthy.
John Cullum, who plays the political boss of Urinetown, is a two-time Tony Award-winning star of the musical theatre, winning for Shenandoah in 1975 and On the Twentieth Century in 1978. He also starred in the original production of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever in 1966, earning another Tony nomination. Most recently, he was seen in Wendy Wasserstein's Old Money at Lincoln Center Theater.
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 Jen Laura Thompson, the female lead in Footloose, as Caldwell's naive daughter. Urinetown! is produced by Araca Group and Dodger Theatricals.
Set in a gotham-esque city where the privilege to relieve oneself is regulated by a single corporation, Urinetown uses the basic melodramatic themes of greed, corruption and betrayal to portray a time where water is worth its weight in gold. A standard book musical in one sense, Urinetown is also a "musical" in the ironic sense, with characters constantly commenting on the theatre and the musical form, and Kotis and Hollman open flaunting theatrical convention (including concepts such as exposition and the notion of a happy ending).
Among the spunky, tongue-in-cheek songs are the title tune ("This is Urinetown!/Your ticket should say Urinetown!/No refunds, this is Urinetown!"), "Snuff that Girl," "A Privilege to Pee," "The Cop Song," "What Is Urinetown?," "Run, Freedom, Run" and "Don't Be the Bunny" (a Cullum number).