‘Urinetown’ may leave audience heading toward the bathroom

Alyssa Sparacino

Katie Waddles, sophomore musical theater major, and Dan Grgic, senior musical theater major, embrace during a love scene in the musical “Urinetown,” opening tonight at 8 in Music and Speech Center. ELIZABETH MYERS|DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Dan Kloock


What exactly is the “privileged pee,” and who are the privileged?

What if there was a water shortage and all the water was controlled? What if people had to pay to pee?

“Urinetown,” which opens at 8 tonight in the Music and Speech Center’s Wright-Curtis Theatre, brings up these issues and gives the audience some answers, while still being hilarious, director Terri Kent said.

The play deals with a large company and the monopoly it creates. When the poor have no money to pay to pee, they break the law and are sent to Urinetown.

“Urinetown” runs through Nov. 11 and is a classic, standard musical, but Kent said it speaks to a contemporary audience.

“It’s edgy and breaks all conventions,” she said. “It incorporates all different styles of music, and does so brilliantly.”

Kent said what really drew her to the play, which was written in 2001, was the music. The musical pieces are parodies of famous musical theater numbers.

The most important thing was finding a show that would progress the musical theater students and their education, Kent said.

Graduate acting student Laura Cook said “Urinetown” and her role as Penelope Pennywise challenged her in ways she always hoped for.

Cook’s character manages the filthiest urinal in town.

“Pennywise is strong and aggressive, but you also have to remember her humanity and the comedic aspect to the play,” Cook said.

She saw “Urinetown” on Broadway and fantasized about playing Pennywise.

“This is a dream role for me,” she said, adding that the vocals in her performance reach high and low, but she feels her professional and academic experiences have prepared her well.

“Training here is honing us to be very versatile,” she said of the graduate acting students’ work at Kent State.

Cook said “Urinetown” is not just silly, but witty, smart and political too. She said the audience will see the obvious differences between capitalism and socialism, but she thinks it’s up to audience members to decide what they get out of the play.

“This is a play that stays with you and leaves you wondering,” she said.

Kent acknowledges the political aspects in “Urinetown,” but recognizes the importance of the comedy.

“It is hysterically funny and the music is fantastic,” Kent said.

Cook added that she believes the story line poses the question of why things work the way they work, but has light-hearted moments as well.

“A good musical not only entertains, but inspires thought,” she said. “It is an engaging piece that will have you laughing. The audience is in for a treat.”

Contact performing arts reporter Alyssa Sparacino at [email protected].