“Urinetown” the musical brings laughs and solid satire with digital streaming release

Baylor Theatre will present Urinetown: The Musical as a digital program running March 25-27. Courtesy Photo

By Mallory Harris | Staff Writer

Through specialized protocols that include air filtration, masked rehearsals and rapid testing, Baylor’s Department of Theatre Arts has worked hard to bring productions to life this academic year. Streaming from March 25-27, students and the Waco community can buy tickets online to receive a link to Baylor’s production of “Urinetown.”

A satirical musical comedy, “Urinetown,” comments on capitalism, small town politics, social responsibility and more. Abilene senior Brooke Matthews, who plays a role within the ensemble cast, said the plot circles around the idea of a long drought within one town, forcing people to pay for basic necessities such as using the bathroom, resulting in revolt. With fun dance numbers and loud, overdramatic acts, Matthews shared how everything within the play is a pun.

“If people don’t follow the law, they get sent to Urinetown and nobody really knows what that means until act two,” Matthews said. “There are little, tiny jokes in there that you will have to be listening for, but if you get it, it just makes it so much funnier.”

While still making a fun and entertaining production, Matthews shared how putting on a show during a pandemic has been difficult. Lisa Denman, director of the play, said their timeline was thrown off early in the production as contact tracing took some students out along with the winter storm.

Denman said they have taken extra precautions such as blocking dance numbers to ensure people are spread out as well as rehearsing in sections to not exceed the limit of people gathered at one time.

Overall, directing with the threat of COVID-19 means there are more moving parts than normal, Denman said.

“This was the biggest show we attempted under the pandemic. We’ve been doing much smaller shows, so this one felt riskier as far as what happens if somebody gets quarantined or somebody gets COVID-19,” Denman said. “All of that felt a bit more tenuous, but we were very lucky.”

As “Urinetown” is one of the many new virtual plays, Matthews and Denman explained the build-up to performing the play, filming it and editing before it’s streamed to the public.

Though it’s set to stream this weekend, Matthews said the play was filmed on March 12, with masked rehearsals until the Wednesday prior. In that short time frame, everyone involved took part in two dress rehearsals and a rapid COVID-19 test.

“When we moved into the final week or so of rehearsals, we set up monitors so that I was watching it over the three cameras and I could see how it was going to look on film, which is very different than the way it looks on stage,” Denman said.

Since the play is both satirical and a musical, Matthews said she wants this play to get students thinking. She said forcing people to pay for basic necessities and seeing what would happen if we followed this path is interesting to see.

On the other hand, Denman said the people of Urinetown are living difficult lives and she said she hopes students respond to that in reflection of our reality.

“Urinetown” streams from March 25-27 and tickets can be bought online. Denman said she is so proud of the show and can’t wait for it to hit the virtual stream.

“We complain about the limitations that are put on us, but we would not trade that,” Denman said. “We want to be doing theatre. We are so happy to be in the space together.”