A Pot to Piss In

Taking the piss out of traditional Broadway conceits, ‘Urinetown’ is currently making a splash at the Cohoes Music Hall. Despite its topic and title, and somewhat sinister plot line, this is, at its heart, a pretty standard musical, with a pastiche of jazz-inflected music and the occasional gospel rouser. When it opened on Broadway it won 4 Tony Awards, for its sharp satirization of topics weighty and light.

This version retains that wild spirit, adding its own exuberance with energetic performances, and a rollicking band under the masterful hand of Musical Director Shoshana Seid-Green. The show itself turns typical Broadway expectations on their heads while honoring and surpassing them – such as in the Act One Finale, which manages to be both earnest and cynical at once, and it’s here where the strength and genius of the show resides. That’s a razor-sharp line on which to teeter, and this production hinges on the performances of its stellar company. Helmed by a wonderfully smarmy but beguiling Evan Teich as Officer Lockstock, a robust Jon McHatton as Bobby Strong, and the bright and beautiful Elizabeth Doyle as Hope Cladwell, the show has a winning trio of leads. Shawn Morgan gives fine voice to Hope’s booming father, and equally-powerful vocals are supplied by Kayley Alissa Hinen as Penelope Pennywise, while Taylor Lane Ross all but steals the show as Little Sally.

Despite its pee-go-centric themes, ‘Urinetown’ offers some timely commentary on humanity and class (particularly the recent people vs. corporations cultural war,) but also on the traditional versus non-traditional notions of musical theater. It posits its criticisms of a feel-good Broadway show within an almost-feel-good Broadway show, and the result is as entertaining as it is enlightening.

‘Urinetown’ runs at the Cohoes Music Hall until March 23, 2014. Don’t piss away the opportunity to see it. (And that’s my last pee-pun for at least a day, I promise.)

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