In a Gotham-like city, a terrible water shortage, caused by a year draught, has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets.
URINETOWN background and analysis by Scott Miller The music [in a musical] amplifies this element of separation, licensing us to stand apart from what we are seeing and enter a third dimension where each of us can individually decide whether to take the plot literally or sardonically, whether to take offense or simply collapse in giggles.
This degree of Ironic Detachment is the very making of the postmodern hit musical. Ironic Detachment would be unattainable in a Tom Stoppard play because I. Its application is unique to the musical comedy, an ephemeral entertainment which has found new relevance through its philosophical engagement with 21st century concepts of irony and alienation.
All these shows broke the big rule of musical comedy, rejecting emotional attachment. It was once true that the whole point of musicals was expressing big emotions with the help of the very powerful and abstract language of music, a language that surpasses even the greatest poetry in its ability to express human emotion, precisely because it is an abstract language but one we all understand.
But not all musicals behave as they should. Lebrecht wrote about a London revival of Guys and Dolls: Except it never was. The Damon Runyon tales on which the musical is founded are unblushing glorifications of mob rule in Prohibition Noo Yawk. But his little guys were criminal hustlers, and Runyon, a night-desk newspaper hack, worshipped the power of thugs like Arnold Rothstein and Al Capone whose whim sent men to sleep in cement waistcoats… What Frank Loesser did in his music and lyrics in was to take a long step back from the material, allowing viewers to choose their own level of involvement with the people on stage… To appreciate how far ahead this was of its times you have only to set Guys and Dolls beside its immediate rivals, South Pacific and The King and I.
Both of those classics demand an emotional response to the love story; without it, they fail.
Loesser in Guys and Dolls throws the emotions into neutral: It is the quintessence of modernity. The Anthem of the People More than most art forms, musical theatre even musicals made in other countries has always reflected American culture and values, showing us our own lives and choices: Now in the early years of the twenty-first century, the focus seems to be on self-awareness and authenticity, in the form of postmodern musicals that reject the rules of modernism the "realism" of Rodgers and Hammersteinshows that comment on themselves and their audiences, that break through to a strange new honesty about the artificiality of storytelling.
The new musicals reject self-importance in favor of self-deprecation. John Bush Jones writes in his book Our Musicals, Ourselves, "It seems no accident that a cluster of solemn musicals came right at the end of the century.
Among serious and thoughtful creative people, the ends of centuries have often provoked a lot of serious and thoughtful thinking, and the production of works of literature, art, or in our case, musical theatre of especially unsmiling seriousness.
But Urinetown is also part of what it mocks, taking on weighty, contemporary issues corporate corruption, environmentalism, civil liberties, class warfare in its lunatic dash through the American experience at the turn of the millennium.
But there is also a bigger context here.
Our whole culture has been heading in the direction of Ironic Detachment, not just musicals. During the s, the counterculture attacked the mythologizing of American history and culture in the s and 50s; but the conservative backlash against the 60s counterculture short-circuited its effort and partially re-mythologized America through the sitcom and the Reagan Years.
Now that the rebels of the s are the executives of today, that de-mythologizing has recommenced. The Comedy Central cable channel is just one example, the home for several post-modern, self-referential, Ironic Detachment TV shows like The Daily Show the parody news showThe Colbert Report the parody news commentary showDrawn Together the parody reality showReno the parody reality cop showThe Showbiz Show the parody entertainment news magazine and others.
Of course now we must ask if the over-saturation of postmodern Ironic Detachment has become so ubiquitous in television, film, animation, commercials GEICO, anyone?
Still, as our culture evolves so too must our storytelling.
The forms that served us well in the s on longer have relevance for us. The First Splash One of the biggest Broadway hits of first opened in New York in the summer ofboth ending and beginning the millennium in a way that sent the musical theatre skidding off its tracks.
In a good way. The show was called Urinetown. Its cast of newcomers was anchored by veteran John Cullum as the villain, capping off a career that had started with the last Lerner and Loewe show Camelot and also included Tonys for Shenandoah and On the Twentieth Century.
Cullum connected the past to the future, standing astride the gap between old-fashioned, "integrated" musical theatre and this new brand of smartass, postmodern musicals.
Even though both stories are grounded in Depression-era America sort ofthey have separate audiences with very different needs. This America is no longer that America. Cardiff Giant, a theatre company in Chicago, had been known for its outrageous, irreverent social satire, some scripted, some improvised.
Two members of the now defunct group, Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann, began working in on what would become Urinetown. Kotis was also a member of the alternative theatre group, the Neo-Futurists, who specialized in evenings of brilliant one- and two-minute plays.
During a trip to Europe with the Neo-Futurists, the nearly broke Kotis discovered to his dismay that most public toilets in Europe are pay-to-use, and the idea for Urinetown was born. It was to be a musical about a place a city?
Here, all toilets are controlled by a large, malevolent, monopolizing corporation, the Urine Good Company. Not only all was this an outrageous idea — especially for a musical — but it was at the same time sociologically interesting, touching on issues of overpopulation, dwindling natural resources, global climate change, and the like.
And it sounded hilarious. Amidst all the lunacy was a serious or at least, seriously smartass response to the theories of Thomas Robert Malthus and his Essay on the Principles of Populationwhich discusses the tendency of human beings to outstrip their resources, and the checks in the form of poverty, disease, and starvation that keep societies from moving beyond their means of subsistence.
Pretty heady stuff for a silly musical about peeing.1 Urinetown: the Musical - Character Outlines Whilst there are several lead character roles, every player is required to characterize an individual role. Inside the Bowels of URINETOWN background and analysis by Scott Miller The music [in a musical] amplifies this element of separation, licensing us to stand apart from what we are seeing and enter a third dimension where each of us can individually decide whether to take the plot literally or sardonically, whether to take offense or simply collapse in giggles.
A synopsis of Urinetown, the darkly comic musical of the early s by playwright Greg Kotis, that enjoyed surprising success. A synopsis of Urinetown, the darkly comic musical of the early s by playwright Greg Kotis, that enjoyed surprising success.
Urinetown the Musical. Search the site GO. Performing Arts. Musical Theater. Urinetown characters breakdowns including full descriptions with standard casting requirements and expert analysis. Brad Fiedel’s music provides character analysis, establishes mood, reinforces settings, and generally enhances The Terminator which helped to create one of the most inspirational, smash hit science fiction-fantasy movies of the 20th century.
The Terminator is a dystopian film . A synopsis of Urinetown, the darkly comic musical of the early s by playwright Greg Kotis, that enjoyed surprising success.