Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Subversive Fun in West Boca

“Urinetown The Musical” Comes to West Boca

By Skip Sheffield

Admittedly the title “Urinetown: The Musical” does not sound very appetizing.
Guess what? The Slow Burn Theatre production of this offbeat Off-Broadway show is funny, clever, and quite pertinent to our current political and economic situation. The show continues through Sunday, Jan. 29 at West Boca High School way out at the end of Glades Road.
“Urinetown” was nominated for ten Tony awards during its 2009 Broadway run. It won for Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Music Score and Best Direction of a Musical.
Authors Mark Holliman (music and lyrics) and Greg Kotis (book and lyrics) say they were inspired by the politically-charged theater of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill (“Threepenny Opera”) in the 1920s and 1930s.
Kotis was also prompted by his encounter with pay toilets on his first trip to Europe. What if we all had to use public pay toilets, and any other form of elimination was a criminal offense? And what if those public toilets were controlled by a greedy, dictatorial giant corporation?
Sound familiar? Welcome to Urinetown and its all-powerful Urine Good Company (UGC).
“Urinetown” not only taunts corporate America, Wall Street and fascistic law enforcement, it makes fun of the Broadway musical itself in it very first song: “Too Much Exposition.” The experienced theater-goer will nod one’s head and say, yes, I’ve often felt that way.
Slow Burn’s cast is absolutely charming. Even the villains are entertaining, as we learn right off the bat as friendly Officer Lockstock (Matthew Korino) explains the situation to naïve but smart street urchin Little Sally (Jaimie Kautzmann). A drought has been going on for 20 years (sound familiar?) and water has become a precious commodity; so precious it is decreed ordinary people cannot be trusted using private bathroom facilities. If someone is caught relieving oneself in public, that person is carted off to “Urinetown;” presumably a penal colony.
The setting is Public Amenity No. 9; the poorest, filthiest facility in town. Policing the place is the formidable Penelope Pennywise (Cindy Pearce) and her young, idealistic assistant, Bobby Strong (Daniel Schwab). Trouble brews when Bobby’s father, Old Man Strong (Conor Walton) can’t afford the fee and urinates in the street (“It’s a Privilege to Pee”).
If this weren’t bad enough, UGC CEO Caldwell Cladwell (Larry Buzzeo) is conspiring with Senator Fripp (Michael Torok) to raise toilet rates even higher.
Every musical needs an ingénue. In this case it is Hope Cladwell (Lindsey Forgery), the CEO’s daughter, who has just joined the company payroll. Every musical needs romance too, and wouldn’t you know it’s instant attraction between Hope and Bobby Strong.
With its offbeat titles and subject matter, the musical score is not the kind you’ll find yourself humming after the show. It is well-played by a live but invisible band.
Kudos to choreographer/director Patrick Fitzwater for bringing this provocative, entertaining show to Boca Raton.
Tickets are $35 adults, $30 seniors and $20 students and may be reserved by calling 954-323-7884 or going to