What do the writers of Urinetown have against bunnies? The furry little fellas die in all manner of nasty ways in the shamefully entertaining send-up of musicals at the Village Playhouse, at least anecdotally, and it’s awful hard not to giggle when they do. But bunnies are hardly the only ones to shuffle off their coils in Urinetown, a howling self-referential satire of its genre which upsets musical conventions with the glee of hooligans tipping trash cans on a suburban straightaway.
The setup: faced with a 20-year drought, private toilets have become verboten, and citizens are forced to use public amenities run by the monopolistic fat cats of privately-held Urine Good Company, whose back-scratching deals with lawmakers have the rabble constantly pinching their pennies and clenching their legs. The pure-hearted Bobby Strong leads a Les Miz
-style uprising over the right to a free pee, and the talented cast — who all play oppressed citizens, UGC employees, and corrupt city police — indulge every opportunity the story presents to burst into song, accompanied by a five-piece band in a corner. But what songs they are. Irreverent numbers like “Too Much Exposition,” “Don’t Be the Bunny,” “Snuff the Girl,” “It’s a Privilege To Pee,” would be showstoppers for any musical, never mind one that takes itself so unseriously. The ensemble cast are universally fantastic, but Michael Locklair as Officer Lockstock, William Schlitt as UGC owner Caldwell B. Cladwell, and Jamie Smithson as Bobby Strong deserve extra gold stars for their crack timing and gloriously physical comic performances.
“This isn’t a happy musical,” Officer Lockstock says to Little Sally, near the end of the show, after the lead chacter has been pitched off a tall building and the expected happy ending has taken a turn into a worldwide ecological disaster. “I don’t think many people are going to come see this show,” Little Sally remarks, belying the packed room she was playing to. “Why not?” Officer Lockstock replies. “Don’t you think people want to be warned about the dangers of unsustainable living?”