The bottom line
If you enjoy social commentary along with your comedy and you have kids ages 13 and older, you'll probably enjoy Renton Civic Theatre's production of Urinetown: the Musical, a campy, punny musical set in a town in which private toilets have been banned — a strategy brought on by a 20-year drought. All public toilets are controlled by a single company who keeps raising the “fee to pee.”
Officer Lockstock, played by Buddy Mahoney, is a beat cop who doubles as the play’s narrator. With the help of street urchin Little Sally (Krista Curry) he apologizes to the audience for the bad title and “too much exposition.” And so begins this funny romp through Urinetown or, as Officer Lockstock says: “Not the place, but the musical!”
The set centers around Public Amenity Number 9, the filthiest, most run-down public amenity in town. All public toilets are run by a mega corporation called Urine Good Company, a symbol of oppression and corporate greed. Number Nine is attended by Penelope Pennywise (Lisa Wright-Thiroux) and Bobby Strong (Matthew Posner). When an old man is carried off by police for peeing on the sidewalk because he can’t afford the toilet, the people stage a revolution.
The themes are plenty in this story — among them corporate greed, the rich becoming richer at the poor's expense, the waste of natural resources and revenge. Each actor’s character shines, from the brutal, comically evil police and greedy capitalists to the naive Hope and the hero Bobby Strong.
The show is campy, exaggerating common musical characters such as the star-crossed lovers, unlikely heroes and the evil rich and spoofing musicals such as Les Mis and Fiddler on the Roof. The singing voices of Matthew Posner and Kristin Burch, who play the star-crossed lovers Bobby Strong and Faith Cladwell, are amazing and powerful, bringing the show to a higher level. If you enjoy parody, you will like this show.
From my 14-year-old daughter: “The singing and acting were great, but it was kind of depressing.”
Parents should know
The theater recommends this show for ages 13 and up. I agree with this, as there are several themes that make Urinetown inappropriate for younger kiddos. There is mild profanity, sexual innuendo, police brutality, several deaths and lots of talk about death: one song is titled “Snuff that Girl.”
If you go ...
What and when: Urinetown the Musical runs June 6–21, Thursday–Saturday.
Tickets: From $15–$25. Purchase online or at 425-226-5529.
Where: The Renton Civic Theatre is located at 507 S. Third Street, Renton
Tips: Bottled water, coffee, and small snacks are available for sale in the lobby. There is also a bar in which cocktails can be preordered for intermission.
DO NOT park in the lot next to the theater. You will be towed, as I was told, and a large sign at the box office states. There is free street parking as well as other lots near the theater.