“To pee or not to pee?” – that is the question the satirical deadpan musical comedy “Urinetown” presents to its audience. Scarcely produced on Long Island, the show will be presented as a one-weekend only run at the YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts from Thursday, May 2 to Saturday, May 4.
The performing arts center, located in the heart of Bay Shore’s Main Street, began producing mainstage musicals last spring with a production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” Their mini-season continued with “A Christmas Carol” in December, starring both local actors and students in the Great South Bay YMCA’s long-running Act Out Theatre program. Director Christopher Rosselli and the Great South Bay YMCA’s Cultural Arts Director Tiana Christoforidis both expressed excitement about the future of the program.
Don’t be put off by the title of the show. This exceedingly self-aware, meta show brings together all your favorite musical theatre cliches with a catchy score and a hilarious book – both of which won Tony Awards in 2002. While the songs are original, they parody classic Broadway numbers from “Les Miserables,” “A Chorus Line,” “West Side Story,” and more.
The dystopian plot – arriving before the explosion of dark dystopian worlds in books and films like The Hunger Games – presents a story of a world where its citizens are required to pay to pee due to an alleged water shortage. The hero archetype Bobby Strong, played by Joseph Bebry, challenges the political institution run by the corrupt Mr. Cladwell (Mike Blangiforti) and gathers a hodgepodge of misfits to rebel. Along the way, he falls in love with Mr. Cladwell’s daughter Hope (Caitlin Nofi) – introducing the Romeo and Juliet-esque trope.
The musical is not only a great piece of theatre, but it also a timely one. Audiences may find it even more relevant today than it was when it premiered in 2002. Although its Broadway opening was delayed by the September 11 attacks in 2001, the musical was met with critical acclaim and was honored with 10 Tony Award nominations (winning three).
The mainstage production opens on Thursday, May 2 at 8 p.m. and continues with performances on Friday, May 3 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, May 4 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Meanwhile, the Act Out Theatre School’s teen production will perform on Sunday, May 5 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.