Bladder Insurrection

In the Tony-winning musical Urinetown, peeing is a privilege, and flushing costs extra.

Bladder Insurrection
Photo by Drew Trampe

When director John Command stages Urinetown: The Musical for Jungle Theater, it won’t be his first go at the show—a dark, strikingly apt musical satire about the effects of capitalism on dwindling natural resources, particularly fresh water. He directed it in 2007, while still the artistic director of Bloomington Civic Theatre, and is even more enthusiastic about directing it the second time around, despite the weather. “It would have been a perfect show for last summer, during the drought,” he laughs. “This year, it’s probably going to rain every day.”

Urinetown may be a cynical satiric send-up, but it’s also a powerfully contemporary political allegory that applies to much more than mere water. In a city suffering from a 20-year drought, the only bathroom amenities available are public ones, and the citizens are forced to pay for the privilege as a way of controlling water consumption. A major conglomerate, Urine Good Company, controls the facilities with an unconscionable amount of corporate greed, leading to a revolt by the impoverished residents.

“Urinetown makes the point that water is a commodity, one that will, in the not-too-distant future, be as valuable as oil is now.”

But it’s a rousing musical as well. “There are great songs and dance numbers and satires on lots of old musicals—salutes to Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, Les Mis, and Chorus Line,” says Command, who has been part of that tradition as a performer, director, and choreographer for more than 50 years.

He is particularly excited to be working with such skilled Equity actors as Kersten Rodeau and Bradley Greenwald. But for the romantic duo, he’s bringing Patrick Morgan and Tiffany Seymour from his BCT production—a pairing whose chemistry is “magic,” he says. Or as magical as it can get in a town where you have to pay to pee. June 7–Aug. 4.

Jungle Theater, 2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-822-7063,