3 Reasons to see Urinetown the Musical with Monumental Theater Co.
Written by Lynley Peoples
Monumental Theatre Company’s Urinetown the Musical is an energetic, comedic adventure. If you’re unfamiliar with the musical, don’t get put off by the name! I walked away both enjoying a night of theater and seriously thinking about the message behind the show. It is a testament to the versatility of the talented ensemble that the actors are able to seamlessly transition between multiple roles. Each member of the ensemble helps to fulfill director Jenna Duncan’s vision through mesmerizing dances, melodic harmonies and conscientious acting choices. It truly is the ensemble that make this production of Urinetown the Musical outstanding.
The plot for those musical theater aficionados: imagine the narrator (like from Into the Woods) propelling a young, but divided, love story (a la West Side Story) with a barricade scene (imagine Les Miserables) all leading to our protagonist (think a wide-eyed Sutton Foster type in Thoroughly Modern Millie) making strong life choices (Wicked).
TL;DR There’s a water shortage. Citizens have to pay for the privilege of peeing. To top it off the government’s corrupt.
You should definitely go see this production if you:
Love a good villain or two.
Ian Anthony Coleman, a viable king gliding majestically on his ladder throne, will have you begging him to serenade you. Did I mention this boy can sing? The intensity and delicious vocal control in his rendition of “Don’t Be the Bunny” paired with the superb dancing of the ensemble will make you wish you could DVR the entire experience.
Rachel Barlaam’s performance as Ms. Pennywise and various other ensemble characters, is hysterical. She takes advantage of every comedic potential. She steals every scene as Ms. Pennywise. Her strong comedic chops and her impressive voice are undoubtably an asset to this production.
Monumental Theatre Company is located less than ten miles from Washington, D.C., the heart of the U.S. political scene. Urinetown the Musical deals with political corruption. Whatever your political beliefs, I think that we can all agree we want our leaders to have our best interests at heart. And that we strive for happiness. Without giving too much away, here were the major questions that I had to consider:
What happens when you think someone in power doesn’t have your interests at heart?
Can we presume to know what is best all the time? Is it ok to be kept ignorant to protect us?
Can someone have good intentions, but be wrong in approach?
Does all power turn good people corrupt or are all people innately corruptible?
Can people ever be satisfied with what they have?
Think about the future.
The narrator, the suave Alan Naylor, warns that people don’t want to know that their way of life is unsustainable. This really struck home for me.
Immediately after graduating with an art history degree, my mom went on the job hunt. On her way to apply for a position, she accidentally walked into the wrong office building after getting bad directions. That company just happened to be hiring and she filled out an application on a whim. They didn’t care about the subject of her degree because they taught all their employees how to succeed. That’s how she got her first job and one she continued until she retired.
For a millennial, my mom’s story is a fairy tale. The job market is extremely competitive. To get an entry level job, you need at minimum a degree in a desirable field with two to three year’s experience in the field. This means that recent graduates are turning to unpaid internships. All the while they are dealing with the crippling college debt. Add in the price of basic necessities, like groceries, healthcare or rent, raising every year. Scary, isn’t it? What will it mean for the next generation?
You need a job to have the income to support the cost of living. But what about natural resources? In 2012, the mid-west had the worst drought in decades. California seems to be in a perpetual state of water emergency. Every drought comes with strict water restrictions. Urinetown the Musical is set in a fictional town with a water shortage. It’s not a huge leap to think that if drought conditions continue every summer, water laws may come into effect.
I left the theater questioning if our way of life unsustainable. Are we destined to end up like those people in the floating chairs from Wall-E? The downtrodden people of Urinetown? Or is there a better future if we became more aware now?