Over ten years ago, Urinetown made a big splash on Broadway. Since its surprising success, it has experienced a vibrant life through regional tours, as well as college and high school productions. I say "surprising success" because with a name like "Urinetown," you might expect the show to debut off-Broadway and stay off Broadway. Maybe even off-off-off Broadway. However, this darkly comic meta-musical which tells of a dystopian society in which everyone must pay a tax in order to use the bathroom, wins the audience over by the end of the first showtune.
Rumor has it that playwright Greg Kotis came up with the idea when he was compelled to use a pay-to-use toilet while traveling through Europe. The "You must pay to pee" theme struck a chord, and Kotis created the book, teaming up with composer Mark Hollman to write the lyrics. (Hollman created the music for Urinetown, and it is delightfully reminiscent of Kurt Weill's highly political Three Penny Opera, with jazzy shades of West Side Story thrown in for good measure.)