Urinetown is a musical; the title is sometimes given as Urinetown the Musical. Directed by Tony Award winner John Rando, the show features music by Mark Hollman, lyrics by Mark Hollman and Greg Kotis, and a book by Greg Kotis. It debuted at the New York International Fringe Festival, was produced Off-Broadway and then moved to Broadway, opening at the Henry Miller Theatre on September 20, 2001 (its planned opening having been postponed after the September 11, 2001 attacks). It ran on Broadway through January 18, 2004, closing with a total of 25 previews and 965 performances.
A national tour began in San Francisco, California on June 13, 2004. A Canadian cast put on one of the most highly acclaimed stagings, using the original New York set, in Toronto, Ontario during the summer of 2004. An open ended run began performances at Chicago's Mercury Theater in March 2006.
The original cast included Hunter Foster (as Bobby Strong, later replaced by Tom Cavanagh), Jeff McCarthy, and Ken Jennings.
A Sydney Theatre Company production opened at the Sydney Theatre in June 2006 starring Lisa McCune, David Campbell and Gerry Connolly.
The show is meant to be a comedy, featuring satire of the corporate world, sight gags, parodies of musical theatre conventions in general and Les Misérables in particular, and jokes that poke fun at the show itself (including the unattractive title).
In 2002, the musical won three Tony Awards: for Best Director (John Rando), Best Original Score (Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis), and Best Book of a Musical (Greg Kotis).
It was nominated for an additional six Tonys: Best Musical, Best Actor in a Musical (John Cullum), Best Actress in a Musical (Nancy Opel and Jennifer Laura Thompson), Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Spencer Kayden), Best Choreography (John Carrafa), and Best Orchestrations (Bruce Coughlin).
In the original Broadway production, the following roles were doubled:
After a rousing Overture, Urinetown begins with a friendly welcome from our narrator, Officer Lockstock. Officer Lockstock and the adorable moppet Little Sally fill us in on the back story during the opening numbers, Too Much Exposition and Urinetown. As the result of a terrible water shortage, private toilets have become unthinkable. All restroom activities are handled through a private corporation, the Urine Good Company (UGC for short). To control water consumption, people have to pay to use public amenities (that is, public toilets) for their "private business". As Lockstock says, "That's the central conceit of the show."
In the next scene, the oppressed masses huddle in line, desperate to use Public Amenity Number 9, one of the poorest, filthiest urinals in town, run by Penny Pennywise and her assistant, dashing young everyman Bobby Strong. Trouble ensues when Bobby 's father, Joseph "Old Man" Strong can't afford his urinal admission for the day. When Old Man Strong asks Pennywise to let him go for free just this once, Penny is forced to draw the line in It's a Privilege to Pee.
By the end of the song, Joseph Strong has made up his mind. "It's no way to live, I tells ya! No way to live!" he screams as he pees right on the street, with Pennywise, Bobby, Little Sally and his wife Josephine Strong looking on. Officer Lockstock and his man, Officer Barrel arrive on the scene immediately. After a brief investigation, Old Man Strong is arrested and escorted off to Urinetown. The masses fall back into line immediately.
The scene changes to the offices of Urine Good Company, where the CEO of the UGC, Caldwell B. Cladwell is assuring Senator Fipp that the agreed upon bribes will come through provided that the senate approves additional restroom fee hikes (and vice versa). Cladwell 's daughter, Hope Cladwell soon arrives for her first day on the job as the UGC's new fax/copy girl, and is ogled by Fipp and Cladwell 's lackey Mr. McQueen. Cladwell summons the rest of his staff, and explains to everyone that the fax/copy position is just the first step as Hope is groomed to inherit the UGC empire. He then proceeds to explain the workings of the UGC (and his staff proceeds to brownnose shamelessly) in Mr. Cladwell.
In the next scene, Little Sally spends some quality time with Officer Lockstock, as she asks why, if there's a drought, there is so much attention focused on urination and so little focused on other uses of water, like, say, hydraulics. Little Sally is ushered away just as Barrel arrives, having just cleaned up the evidence of Old Mans Strong's "exile" to "Urinetown". When Barrel admits to being disappointed that Old Man Strong didn't put up much of a fight, Lockstock explains that the journey down to Urinetown offers no surprises, not even from the very toughest among us, in The Cop Song.
Hope then arrives after a long night of faxing (and copying). Lockstock 's efforts at flirtation seem to be going well when Bobby arrives with fire in his belly, complaining that the people are growing restless over rumors of more fee hikes. The cops remind Bobby to keep his head out of the clouds, lest what happened to his father happen to him. Bobby remains defiant, attracting and intriguing innocent young Hope. When the police leave the scene, Bobby admits to his feelings of guilt and confusion over not doing more to save his father. Hope encourages Bobby to follow his heart in Follow Your Heart. But even as Hope 's heart tells her to fall for Bobby, Bobby 's heart is laying plans for a new tomorrow...
As the two exit, Little Sally and Lockstock look on. After observing that Hope sure seems to love Bobby, Little Sally tries to get Lockstock to tell her about Urinetown. Lockstock refuses, explaining that if he revealed that there was no Urinetown and they just killed people, it would ruin the suspense.
The next day, Bobby shows up late for work after a night spent thinking. He arrives just in time to hear McQueen announcing the new - and entirely legal - urinal fee hikes just passed by the legislature. To Ms. Pennywise 's horror, Bobby dares to ask, "What if the law is wrong?" in the song Look at the Sky. By the end, Bobby and the crowd have taken control of the amenity, and the urinals are open to the masses. The people pee free!
Meanwhile, the police have gotten wind of the plot, and rush into the UGC offices to tell Cladwell of the disturbance. Hope is shocked to learn of Bobby 's involvement, but urges her father not to use violence against the protesters, but to look inside the rioters' hearts to see what made them pound so angrily. Cladwell gently explains that sometimes the only way to keep the peace is with beatings, because life itself is a beating, in the song Don't Be the Bunny.
Cladwell and the police rush to the amenity, and protesters, police and powerful elites clash during the Act I Finale. In the confusion, Little Sally joins the rebellion and Bobby is accused of kidnapping Hope. As the situation becomes more desperate, Bobby decides that their only way for the revolution to survive is to actually kidnap Hope. Bobby and the revolutionaries get away with it, because the dance choreography forces the police to move too damned slowly.
Intermission - The restrooms are packed as the audience reflects on how lucky they are to live in a world where people pee for free. Sometimes they flush twice in celebration.
Act II starts with What is Urinetown as frustrated authorities struggle to find the rebels, who are hidden away in a clearly labeled "Secret Hideout". As Cladwell orders a full scale mobilization of the police to find Hope, the rebels (including halfwit manboy Tiny Tom, leg-braced Becky Two Shoes, knocked up Soupy Sue, and the creepy, knife-obsessed Hot Blades Harry) cluster around a bound and gagged Hope, speculating on the true nature of Urinetown. The surmise (correctly), is that Urinetown's the end.
The desperate rebels become more and more convinced that they'll soon be shipped off to Urinetown, and a little revenge is in order before it happens. The rebels are about to give Hope "the rope", when Little Sally barges in, insisting that killing people is wrong. Hot Blades and Becky Two Shoes feel differently, and argue strenuously for senseless revenge killing in Snuff That Girl.
Despite Little Sally 's objections, Hot Blades and Becky are about to do in Hope when Bobby and Josephine rush in. Bobby urges the revolutionaries not to panic because the rebellion is going exactly as planned. The rebels ask Bobby why, if things went so well, did he yell for them to "Run! Run for your lives!" at the end of Act I. Bobby explains that he said that in the heat of battle, and in the heat, the actual hotness of the battle, the cry of freedom sounds something like Run Freedom Run. Bobby 's rousing gospel cry to action seems to be going well until he praises his fellow rebels for having the courage to commit to a decades-long struggle. Their good will fades quickly.
Luckily, at that moment Pennywise infiltrates the secret hideout (using her extensive knowledge of the sewer system), bearing a message from Cladwell. Cladwell wants Bobby to come to the UGC to negotiate a peaceful settlement. Bobby goes, eager to avoid bloodshed and effort.
At the UGC headquarters, Cladwell offers Bobby a suitcase full of cash and full amnesty to the rebels as long as Hope is returned and the people agree to the new fee hikes. Bobby refuses, demanding free access for the people. Cladwell refuses, and orders the cops to escort Bobby to Urinetown. When Pennywise points out that Urinetown for Bobby could mean the end for Hope, Cladwell ruthlessly refuses to give in to the demands of terrorists. Lockstock and Barrel haul Bobby off.
Why Did I Listen to that Man begins with Fipp lamenting his involvement in Cladwell 's corruption. Pennywise decides to save Hope, but is detained by Cladwell 's lackeys. Pennywise fights them off with her plunger, and then sings angrily that she never should have trusted Cladwell either. Bobby is dragged to the top of the UGC building by the cops. Just as he finally realizes the true nature of Urinetown, Bobby is thrown off the building.
In the next scene, Little Sally returns to the Rebel hideout, having just heard Bobby 's semi-coherent last words, which she recounts to everyone in Tell Her I Love Her. The angry mob decide to do in Hope once and for all, but at the last moment Pennywise bursts in urging them to kill her instead. Pennywise reveals that Hope is her daughter (gasp!) and she is Hope 's mother (double gasp!!).
Pennywise releases Hope. Once released, Hope promptly convinces the rebels to let her lead the revolution. "Let's do to them what they were ultimately going to do to us!" she cries as she leads them to the nerve center of Cladwell 's empire.
Once Hope takes command, the rebels seize the advantage during We're Not Sorry. During the course of the song, Fipp, Ms. Millennium, and Officer Barrel are killed by the revolutionaries, and Cladwell is captured and taken into custody.
Cladwell is shocked to find his daughter is still alive, and even more shocked to learn that she is now in charge of the rebellion. Hope orders Cladwell off to Urinetown. Cladwell has time to sing a bittersweet goodbye to his one time lover Pennywise in We're Not Sorry - Reprise before he too is tossed off a building.
Now that she is in the seat of power, Hope assures her followers that the age of fear is over. As I See a River begins, she looks ahead to a new age where the people can pee as much as they like, with whomever they like, whenever they like in whatever location they like. But as the song progresses, things take a turn for the worse. Officer Lockstock 's epilogue says it all:
And with a roar of "Hail Malthus", the curtain falls...
It's not a happy musical.