Urinetown Will Spill Into North America, on National Tour June 2003

News   Urinetown Will Spill Into North America, on National Tour June 2003 Soon, your town will be Urinetown.

Soon, your town will be Urinetown.

The hit Broadway musical comedy about a futuristic society where water is rationed and the rabble have to pay to use public facilities will be seen on a national tour that begins in June 2003 in San Francisco.

News of the tour was leaked as the March 20 six-month anniversary of the Broadway staging was celebrated. The tour will begin June 17, 2003, at the Geary Theatre in San Francisco, the home of American Conservatory Theatre. The yearlong tour is produced by The Araca Group and Dodger Theatricals with TheatreDreams, Lauren Mitchell and the American Conservatory Theatre.

It is thought that the company will be initially working under a regional theatre contract at ACT and then under a touring production contract once it leaves the city by the bay (similar to how the current national tour of Proof began at Seattle Repertory Theatre), though details of the contracts have not been announced. The neo-Brechtian musical comedy by Greg Kotis (book and lyrics) and Mark Hollmann (music and lyrics) will be part of ACT's season. No casting has been announced.

The national tour will be directed by John Rando with choreography by John Carrafa, who both helmed the Broadway production. Designers will be Scott Pask (set), Gregory Gale and Jonathan Bixby (costumes) and Brian McDevitt (lighting), who also designed the Broadway staging, currently running at The Henry Miller on Broadway. Initial tour stops for Urinetown are Denver, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Toronto, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Cleveland. Other cities will be announced shortly. No specific venues have been announced.

The work began life at the Present Company Theatorium on the Lower East Side as part of the 1999 New York International Fringe Festival. Plucked up by commercial producers, the show got a new cast (Spencer Kayden is a holdover), a new creative team (the writers remained) and narrative refinements. It played a 2001 May-July run Off-Broadway — with Tony Award winner John Cullum playing the comic bad guy — and moved to Broadway by September.

The musical satire, considered by many to be the funniest musical this side of The Producers, concerns a futuristic, drought-stricken city where water usage and toilets are controlled by an evil corporation, led by dapper Caldwell B. Cladwell (played by Cullum). The citizens rebel — and dance! — and comedy ensues.

Theatregoers have been debating whether the show is pure entertainment or if it's a deeply political show in the tradition of the work of Bertolt Brecht (whose goal was always to entertain his audience).

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Previews began Aug. 27, 2001, at the newly refurbished Henry Miller (formerly Henry Miller's Theatre). Opening was originally scheduled for Sept. 13, but producers bumped the official bow to Sept. 20 for reasons related to the terrorist attacks, and because press had not been able to see the show prior to Sept. 13.

The Broadway company includes Cullum; Hunter Foster as juvenile lead Bobby Strong; Spencer Kayden as a post pubescent orphan waif Little Sally; Jeff McCarthy as corrupt narrator Officer Lockstock; Nancy Opel as Penelope Pennywise and Jennifer Laura Thompson as Hope Cladwell.

Musical direction is by Edward Strauss. Orchestrations are by Bruce Coughlin. A cast album was released by RCA Victor in August 2001.

Urinetown was the winner of two 2001 Obie Awards — a special citation for book (Greg Kotis) and lyrics (Greg Kotis, Mark Hollmann) and an award for musical staging (John Carrafa). Spencer Kayden, who plays the role of Little Sally, also received the Clarence Derwent Award for her performance. Urinetown was also nominated for nine 2001 Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical.

The show is expected to be a major contender in the 2002 Tony Awards.

The Henry Miller is at 124 W. 43rd Street, between Sixth Avenue and Broadway). For tickets, call (212) 239-6200.

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To view Playbill On-Line's Brief Encounter interview with John Cullum, click here.