The Bexley High School Theatre Department is set to present its spring musical production of the Tony-Award winning Urinetown this week, a uniquely witty tale that is the farthest thing from bathroom banter.
The show opens thursday, April 3, and runs through Saturday, April 5, in the Schottenstein Theatre, 326 S. Cassingham Road.
Anyone attending the darkly comic Broadway hit musical should not expect "potty humor," said Theatre Program Director Rebecca Rhinehart, director of the show.
Rather, she said, the story revolves around the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement and politics.
"Urinetown is not a happy musical," Rhinehart said. "Its lead characters are stupid, misguided, and/or evil. Its choruses are struggling, bullied and mindless. The narrator is in no way a hero and its hero does not save the day. The plot is full of death and it doesn't end well for anyone.
"And yet, lots of dark humor and the script's ability to not take itself too seriously somehow blend perfectly to make everything OK, turning this potential tragedy into modern comedy magic."
Playwright Greg Kotis got the idea for Urinetown after an unexpected layover in Paris one summer, during which he ran out of money and could not pay to use public toilets, said Rhinehart.
"He used this experience to create a world in which the basic human right of going to the bathroom is taken away, a premise that by admission of the characters is completely 'absurd,' " she said.
Urinetown is the story of a small town struck by a drought, challenging the townspeople to find clean water. In an effort to take advantage of the situation financially, one greedy entrepreneur charges the townspeople for one of humanity's most basic needs -- to urinate.
"The title, meant to start conversations, is clearly still doing its job 10 years after Urinetown's Broadway close in 2004," Rhinehart said.
Through humorous satire and social commentary, Urinetown offers the audience some deep lessons. The show also makes numerous satirical references to shows such as West Side Story, Chicago, Fiddler on the Roof and Les Miserables.
Rhinehart said the story's dark humor, ensemble-feel and contemporary style have all served as challenges as the cast gets ready to take the stage this week. But she feels confident that audiences will be pleased.
"After the astounding success of last year's Crazy for You, which was lighthearted with the style of a much older musical, we needed a different challenge for this year's musical," she said.
Tickets are available at BexleyTheatreArts.com, at a cost of $8 for students, $10 for adults.
Lions Pride pass-holders are admitted free of charge.