When David Roth and Kerry Long saw “Urinetown” on Broadway in 2001, they thought it was one of the funniest shows they’d seen. They loved the story, writing, music and choreography.
The Staples Players co-directors waited eagerly for the first chance to stage it in Westport. It came 11 years ago. Roth says it turned out to be one of the most favorite musicals that group of actors ever did. Audiences loved it too.
For the last several years, Roth has wanted to reprise “Urinetown.” Months ago, he and Long decided on it as this spring’s mainstage production.
At the time, the presidential election was far in the distance. “We had no intention of it being a political choice,” he says. “But with the current unrest in the country, the cast really understands the satire.”
The 2017 Staples Players’ “Urinetown” — which opens Friday, March 17 and runs that weekend and the next — has a very different look than the previous incarnation. There’s a completely new cast, of course, but also a new choreographer.
So far, the choice has lived up to the directors’ intentions. “Students are throwing themselves into creating big, bold characters,” Roth says.
“Bits we’ve watched time and again in rehearsal still make us laugh,” Long notes.
The show has “a lot of great character parts,” Roth says, providing many opportunities for actors to shine. Among them: Remy Laifer, a Players co-president (hero Bobby Strong). Previously, he’s played either socially awkward people or old men.
The musical — which won 3 Tony Awards — is set in a dystopian city. A 20-year drought has caused a terrible water shortage, making the use of private toilets unthinkable.
Public restrooms are regulated by a single mega-corporation. Anyone failing to pay is sent to a penal colony called Urinetown. A hero emerges from the poor. He’s had enough, and plans a revolution to lead all the peons (ho ho) to safety.
“‘Urinetown’ tells the story of political greed, and how corrupt governments affect the common citizen,” Laifer says. “It affirms that everyone should have a voice.”
Zoe Samuels — who plays Hope, Bobby’s love interest and daughter of the mega-corporation’s CEO — adds, “those who suffer continue to fight, because of ‘hope’ for a better future.”
Players shows often raise funds for good causes. “Urinetown” is no exception. Patrons will be given the opportunity to pay for “the privilege to pee” at intermission. Proceeds go to Water.org, an international non-profit that provides safe drinking water to millions of people.
Tickets are on sale now (see below). Act quickly. Don’t be pissed off at missing this chance for a very funny, cleverly staged show. Urine for a real treat.
PS: It’s rated “pee-gee.”
(“Urinetown” will be performed on Friday and Saturday, March 17, 18, 24 and 25, at 7:30 p.m., with a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday, March 19. Click here for tickets. Any remaining tickets will be available at the Staples High School auditorium door 20 minutes before showtime.)