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Music and theater students stage edgy ‘Urinetown’

A drought leads to a catastrophic water shortage. To regulate water consumption, the government bans the use of private toilets. Citizens must line up to use pay toilets owned and operated by Urine Good Company, a corrupt corporation.

That’s the premise of the aptly named Urinetown, an edgy parody/musical playing tonight through March 4 in the Byron Theatre at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts.

Urinetown is the sixth annual winter musical co-produced by DU’s Department of Theatre and Lamont School of Music.

The musical — based on the book by Greg Kotis — is directed and choreographed by guest artist Nick Sugar, an award-winning director, choreographer and actor based in Denver. Music is by Mark Hollman. Lyrics are by Hollman and Kotis.

The all-student play stars Nicole Campbell, a theater and film major from Thornton, Colo.; Michael Boyer, a political science major from Moraga, Calif.; Blake Nawa’a, a music and vocal performance major from Snohomish, Wash.; Cecilie Nygaard, a music and vocal performance major from Humlebaek, Denmark; and Lauren Freeman, a theater major from Denver.

Sugar describes the musical as “feel-good satire.”

“It definitely makes you laugh, but you’re also looking at the corruption of big corporations and how the little people get peed upon,” he says.

Then again, he says, the musical numbers include one in which “people who have to go to the bathroom break into song.”

Rick Barbour, chair of the theater department, describes the play this way: “It’s like if ‘Saturday Night Live’ did a musical.’’

“In this Orwellian, totalitarian, corporate ‘grind you under their thumb’ kind of world, someone gets the thought to rebel,” he says. “There is wonderful music, fun and engaging characters, a sweet couple in love, an evil corporate dude and various lackeys.”

Urinetown got its start at the New York Fringe Festival and debuted on Broadway in 2001, where it won Tony Awards for best book and best score. It is the third musical Sugar has directed at DU.

“I’ve seen the caliber of students continue to grow, as well as the program,’’ Sugar says. “Combining Lamont with the Department of Theatre gives these students another opportunity to make them well-rounded performers.”




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