For the first time in its long history, Skylight is putting on Urinetown, a wonderful play with a terrible title (and a terribly relevant premise).
Director Ray Jivoff has proven himself adept at tackling slapstick, slightly off-kilter contemporary musicals since taking over as the company’s artistic director last year, so Urinetown makes for a natural fit. And the rest of the cast and crew seem to relish the script’s absurdity, and its freewheeling song-and-dance numbers (which lampoon everything from municipal politics to Bertolt Brecht’s Threepenny Opera), as much as Jivoff does, making this one of the best shows the Skylight has put on all season.
Here are 10 reasons I’d recommend it:
1. I usually roll my eyes when actors break the fourth wall. When Rick Pendzich (Officer Lockstop) did it with a cheeky grin before breaking into an outlandish song aptly titled “Too Much Exposition,” though, I was sold.
2. Creators Greg Kiotis and Mark Hollmann really lean into the ridiculousness of the show’s premise, to great effect – I couldn’t sit through songs like “It’s a Privilege to Pee” without giggling, and tapping my foot.
3. I thought I was too cool to appreciate jazz hands. I guess I’m not.
4. I’m definitely not too cool to appreciate choreography that gleefully, and inventively, cribs moves from classic musicals like Fiddler on the Roof – well done, Ryan Cappleman.
5. Kärin Simonson Kopischke nailed the costuming. Now I want to start wearing booties with glittery stacked heels and artfully tattered jackets.
6. Brandon Kirkham’s color-soaked set design nicely complements the costumes, and the entire Seussian script.
7. The cast members have some pretty spectacular pipes. I was especially impressed with the young leads, Lucas Pastrana (Bobby Strong) and Rachael Zientek (Hope Cladwell), but the singing was uniformly excellent.
8. My one complaint? Skylight played up the script’s campier elements so much that when the show took a hard-right turn into tragedy, I got a bit of whiplash.
9. If there aren’t tears in your eyes at the end of the finale, you aren’t human.
10. Urinetown may actually be even more relevant now than it was when it premiered in 2001.
If you’d like to see the show, you can buy tickets, or learn more, on the Skylight website.