The ancient Jewish bathroom prayer praises God for a basic, yet miraculous bodily function, many take for granted. Similarly, when the British imposed a “tea tax” on the most vital drink in the poor man’s diet, the colonists revolted. Urinetown: the Musical is a farcical, satirical look at the fat cats squelching the little man’s dollar- imposing a most terrible toll, a “pay to pee,” on the town.
In the spirit of Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story,” Urinetown is an ensemble production satirizing capitalism, social irresponsibility, mega-corporations, and small town politics. David Laffey, as Bobby Strong, the heroic protagonist, is no stranger to musical theater, and makes his debut at the Morgan Wixson with a “strong” performance. He leads his amazing cast (“family”), the huddled, downtrodden oppressed masses, (with hardly a “pot to piss in”) as they take a playful look at their plight. Before the show starts, cast members frolic and pantomime, foreshadowing the “sublime to ridiculous” nature of the show. Yet, behind the levity lurks a serious dark story: every drop, every line, every act symbolizes some of Broadway’s darkest scenarios, with desperation brought on by despotism.
Shades of “Les Mis,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Westside Story,” and “Pajama Game,” are recognized in Urinetown, as the show parodies many musical genres, with plot twists and magnificent choreographic numbers adding charm and energy, particularly in the second act. A running sub-plot between two cast members (quasi-narrators) gives an interesting perspective on the show within a show. Little Sally (Andrea Paquin) poses a challenge to Officer Lockstock (Justin Waggle): “not a lot of people will come see an unhappy musical, with an awful title & horrible ending!”
Urinetown, a spoof on a drought stricken future, where urination is no longer free, made a splash at the 1999 Fringe Fest, and its successful run off-Broadway. Now LA theater-goers can experience Urinetown in all its glory.
“Urinetown” the Musical runs thru April 10, Saturdays at 8 p.m. & Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Morgan Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica. For more information call (310) 828-7519 or visit www.morgan-wixson.org.