by Tom Simpson for OLY ARTS

Urinetown – the ribald and uproarious musical with the bizarre name – is coming back to Olympia. Produced by the theater department of Saint Martin’s University, Urinetown will be on stage in April for two weekends at the State Theatre, Harlequin Production’s home venue.

“We look forward to sharing this delightfully different musical with Thurston County audiences,” says director Brian Tyrrell. Tyrrell is recently retired from a quarter century career as head of Centralia College’s theater department, and is temporarily at Saint Martin’s for the 2017-2018 school year.

Birthed in the New York fringe festival by a playwright who leaned towards absurdist anarchy, the show was a surprising success off-Broadway. When the show moved to Broadway in 2001, the New York Times described Urinetown as a “marvelously self-conscious satire of the musical theater’s social conscience.” Over the last seventeen years, the musical has gone on to several national tours and many regional productions.

“I had the good fortune to see Urinetown, the Musical on Broadway in 2002,” says Tyrrell. “Audiences embraced this musical with the crazy name perhaps, in part, because laughter is the best medicine. Ironically, Urinetown, the Musical, is even more topical in 2018 than it was in 2001. It’s rare to visit the theatre and depart two hours later having been not only entertained but enlightened about the world’s condition.”

The Urinetown story is a satire of corporate greed and a parody of the great American musical. Urinetown is one of the theater world’s truly unique musicals, based entirely from original material created by playwright Greg Kotis, who came up with the idea when he couldn’t find a free bathroom in Europe. In this story, a 20-year drought leads an evil company to regulate the privilege to pee in public by charging admission to urinals. “In a time when water is worth its weight in gold, Urinetown, the Musical, is a hilarious cautionary tale about our own wastefulness,” explains Tyrrell.

Saint Martin’s productions include student actors, but also welcome theater professionals to their stage. Andy Gordon, who directed Saint Martin’s production of “Into the Woods” in 2014, will be Caldwell B. Cladwell, the personification of greed and cruelty. Local actress Jana Tyrrell is featured as Penelope Pennywise. This all-star cast is rounded out by Amanda Stevens as Ma Strong and Tom Sanders as Old Man Strong. Student actors include Tyler Williams (Officer Lockstock) and Charlotte Darling (Hope Cladwell).

WHAT: Urinetown, the Musical

WHERE: State Theatre, 501 E. 4th Ave (home of Harlequin Productions)

WHEN: April 7, 10-14, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday April 8, 2 p.m.

HOW MUCH: $12 – $10 (student rate)

LEARN MORE: Brown Paper Tickets Event