The old adage, “water is for fighting,” will be played out in dramatic detail at Madera South High School’s theatre, beginning Thursday, but it is not entirely about H2O. Drama teacher Ginger Latimer’s students are performing “Urinetown: The Musical,” which focuses as much on flushing as it does on fighting.
The satirical comedy, which hit Broadway in 2001, is ready made for the San Joaquin Valley with its own water problems in 2014. When the action on stage begins, a 20-year drought has gripped the town, and corporate and political greed rush in to take advantage of the dilemma.
In an alleged attempt to meet the water crisis, an ordinance making private toilets illegal has been enacted. Management of public toilets has been put in the hands of a megacorporation called “Urine Good Company (UGB),” and the public privies become the only source of relief for an obviously distressed citizenry. The problem is made worse by the fact that they have to pay for each visit to bathroom.
Reaping a windfall from operating these public facilities are Caldwell B. Cladwell, the head of UGB, and Senator Fipp, the politician whom he has in his pocket.
Every day the oppressed masses huddle in line at the poorest, filthiest urinal in town, Public Amenity No. 9. One by one, the fidgeting crowd pays to use the toilet, but trouble begins when one elderly man can’t afford his urinal admission. Denied entrance, he urinates on the street and is arrested.
As is the case with everyone who violates the urine ordinance, the old man is taken to “Urinetown” where he becomes part of the “permanent solution.”
The next day, Caldwell announces a hike in the urinal fee, and the people begin a “pee-for-free” revolt. Caldwell vows to crush the rebellion, and the fight is on.
As the revolution intensifies, Caldwell’s daughter, Hope, comes on the scene and falls in love with Bobby, the leader of the rebellion. More and more citizens are arrested and dragged off to “Urinetown” for elimination, so Bobby makes a difficult decision. He decides to kidnap Hope and use her in his battle against her father.
Act II opens with Hope gagged and tied while her captors dance threateningly around her in the “Secret Hideout.” At this point the people begin to wonder where Urinetown is located and come to an astounding conclusion.
Certain that what they think about Urinetown is true and that none of the victims will return alive, the rebels decide to execute Hope.
Before the curtain falls, Caldwell, Hope, and all of the other characters are part of an entirely unexpected ending.
“Urinetown” is a must see, especially for those who have had the experience of one of Latimer’s productions. It is an “uproaringly funny and earnest tale of love, greed, and revolution in a time when water is worth its weight in gold.” The show will make the audience laugh while it explores real social issues.
It takes a look at corporate control, political corruption, conservation, and the divide between the rich and poor. The play also pokes fun at the “do-gooders” of society who try to make change happen without thinking it through.
“Urinetown,” which is officially a production of Madera South Theatre Company is performed by an on-stage student cast of 38 with 12 behind the scene stage hands. Latimer directs the play with the assistance of 10 adults, most of whom are former students.
“Urinetown” runs from April 3 through April 5 and from April 9 through April 12. at 7:30 p.m. The April 6 performance is at 2 p.m.
Admission for reserved seating is $12, adults $10, and $7 for students. A student rush price of $5 has been set for April 9.
The theatre is located at Madera South High School at 705 W. Pecan Ave.