Are you in town? ‘Urinetown’ opens tonight

By Chelsie Field


The best things in life are free, or so the saying goes.

This doesn’t include every time nature calls for the citizens of a town plagued by a 20-year drought, as the luxury of private restrooms is abolished in order to conserve the water supply.

Over the next two weekends, the University of Massachusetts Theater Guild will present Greg Kotis’ “Urinetown: The Musical,” a satirical musical comedy that may just have its audience members splitting their pant seams laughing.

The situation in the spotlight is that all restroom activities have been restricted to public amenities controlled by the bathroom monopoly Urine Good Company. Failure to pee in the proper public toilets results in perpetual banishment to the place of exile, Urinetown. This further widens divides between family and friends and the rich and poor as the townies push for a better life, and the right to pee freely again ensues.

The musical is “a smart Broadway hit that takes the serious environmental issues we face today and approaches them from a playfully self-aware, absurdist – not to mention very funny – perspective,” according to the Arts & Events description on the UMass website. Its satire touches upon very relevant social issues such as the riff between the wealthy and poor classes as well as the issue of monopolizing basic necessities.

The musical itself has won numerous awards. Urinetown was nominated for a notable 10 Tony Awards, ultimately snagging three of them. It first opened Off- Broadway in 2001, eventually moving to Broadway in 2002 after an unexpected surge of interest was generated not only throughout the world of musicals, but among the general public as well.

If Broadway seems closer than it appears in the UMass production of Urinetown, it’s because it is. Director Gina Kaufmann collaborated side by side with composer Mark Hollmann, who composed of the original score of the show. He is also co-creator of the original musical. Hollmann gave a talk to Five College students and the local community regarding the musical and his work last week.

Admission is $8 for students and seniors and $16 for the general public. Tickets can be purchased at the Fine Arts Center or online at

The show will run March 1-3 and 7-10 at 8 p.m., with additional showings on March 3 and 10 at 2 p.m. at the Rand Theater in the Fine Arts Center.

There will be a Q&A with the cast and crew of Urinetown on March 2 immediately following the performance, which will be open to all who are interested.

Chelsie Field can be reached at [email protected]