Urinetown: This Year’s HHS Musical

Echo Rogers, Reporter

Out of the woods they’ve come and into Urinetown. Wait, what?

This year, directors Michelle O’Brien and Lisa Balanda decided Urinetown would be Hershey High School’s 2017 spring musical. The two both wanted the musical to be different than what they have done in the past, and while the title is quite shocking, there seems to be more to this play than just its name.

Urinetown has been played across the country in colleges and high schools, including Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Playhouse in 2014. Urinetown follows the story of a town that has experienced a 20 year drought that causes the citizens of this town to pay to use the restroom. (Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Playhouse)

“I was definitely caught by surprise,” Hershey High School senior Kodiak Thompson said. Thompson is not only the lead for Urinetown this year but he was also the lead and Apollo Winner for the musical Crazy for You two years ago.

Despite the shocking title, Thompson said he began to research the musical further by reading the show’s plot line and listening to the soundtrack. He now believes the play sounds fun, satirical, and filled with energy.

The previous musical HHS performed was far from funny. Into the Woods featured a dark twist on a few classical fairy tales like Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel. This played into O’Brien and Balanda’s decision to pick Urinetown as this year’s spring musical.

“We felt like we wanted to do something completely different,” O’Brien said. She said it felt as if the musicals had been stuck in the 50s and 60s and the “Once Upon a Time” theme.

Urinetown, however, is a modern musical that is far from fantasy. The plot follows the story of a town that experiences a 20 year drought. Due to this drought, the citizens now have to pay to use the restroom. When prices keep increasing, the citizens rebel.

O’Brien also wanted to incorporate more dancers. In Into the Woods, they had to write in more dancers because there were so few of them. The dancers were even given parts; they played Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. Urinetown, however, features more dancers and modern dance like jazz and hip hop.

“I think modern dance will get more dancers involved and also interest a different audience,” Erin Wolfe said. Wolfe has been a dancer for the musical for the past three years and played Snow White in Into the Woods.  

Though the dancers will be given a greater role this year, the pit orchestra is much smaller. Urinetown features no strings besides one bass player and no flutes. Overall, very few instruments will be needed.

Emily Nothnagle, a drum major who has participated in the pit for two years said, “I’m very upset they are excluding such a large part of what makes a musical a musical.”

Not only is there a small pit, but the musical itself also has challenges as well. O’Brien said the play is fast paced and timing is key since there are many jokes the actresses and actors need to get across to the audience.

“The students will need to bring their A game,” O’Brien said.

Despite these challenges, O’Brien is excited for the musical because she loves how funny and smart the play is.

“I think the kids are going to have a great time,” O’Brien said.
Thompson agreed, “Musical season is a crazy and fun time of year at HHS.”