It’s a classic story ““ the good guy standing up to the system, the bad guy defrauding the poor, all in the name of peeing.
That’s right, peeing.
Hooligan Theatre Company’s upcoming production of the Broadway play, “Urinetown,” depicts a dystopian society where a large corporation forces people to pay to pee. Along with the absurdity and comedic elements of the plot, the play highlights social issues such as sustainability, socioeconomic problems and big business, while parodying itself
as a musical.
“This show is really political, and I think this is a great moment to do it right around the presidential election,” said fourth-year communication studies student Coco Van Iwaarden, the director of the show. “I love that it’s a satirical musical and they have so much fun talking about these serious issues.”
The show revolves around the character of Bobby Strong, a custodian for one of the town’s few urinals, who decides to revolt after his father is arrested for breaking the peeing laws and gets taken away to the mysterious “Urinetown.” Fourth-year geography student Mack Kary plays Strong, and said he was attracted to the character’s heroic traits.
“He’s kind of this innocent, do-what-he’s-told kind of character and he starts thinking a little more about what he thinks is right,” Kary said. “I felt like the character traits were kind of similar to me. Not to say that I’m some hero or anything like that, but I just thought I could relate to the character so well.”
First-year mathematics student Aaron Fish plays the CEO of the Urine Good Company, Caldwell B. Cladwell, who enforces the pee laws. He said playing the villain allows him to see both sides of his character’s intentions.
“Villains are so much more interesting to me. … The best villains are really persuasive. You listen to the best villains and you could be convinced that he or she is absolutely right in what they’re doing, but they go about it in evil ways,” Fish said.
Third-year biology student Clara Regula, who plays Cladwell’s daughter Hope and serves as love interest to Strong, said the play sends out messages about class issues that play into today’s society.
“There’s a big gap between the rich and the poor, where the rich are really, really rich and the poor are really, really poor,” Regula said. “There are definitely factors in the real world that factor into the play.”
The environment of the play is set around the Los Angeles River watershed, though Van Iwaarden said she didn’t want to make it too obvious that it’s set in Los Angeles.
“The L.A. River (watershed) is kind of an ambiguous space. … I didn’t want it to be so obviously L.A. that it hit that message in a painful way; it just needs to hint at it enough subconsciously as the audience makes that connection,” Van Iwaarden said.
While the musical has overtones that explore serious issues, Kary said at the end of the day, it’s a classic Broadway show with all the tropes and comedy that would come with a musical that makes fun of musicals.
“Everyone would understand that it’s making fun of big corporations and unjust laws,” Kary said. “But it’s a pretty regular musical with the hero fighting against the villain, the classic love story, it’s got tragedy, but every single thing is supposed to be funny. With a title like “˜Urinetown,’ it has to be that ridiculous.”