Urine for some laughs

The Musical” in the last mainstage musical performance of their NKU careers.

How much would you pay to pee?

That’s the all-important question posed in “Urinetown: the Musical,” Northern Kentucky University Theatre Department’s first show of the spring semester.

“Urinetown” tells the story of a city drained by a 20-year drought.

Water is so scarce private toilets are banned. Instead, the only toilets belong to one monster-sized corporation, Urine Good Company. The crooked conglomerate forces citizens to use its facilities and then charges outlandish prices for the privilege of peeing. Any transgressors who do not use their pee privileges at Urine Good are exiled to the dreaded Urinetown.

It’s not long before one man, Bobby Strong (Roderick Justice), rises up to lead a popular revolution against Urine Good’s tyranny. Along the way, he falls in love with Hope Cladwell (Denise Devlin), the daughter of the Urine Good magnate Caldwell B. Cladwell.

The wacky fast-paced satire “parodies all musicals,” said director Ken Jones. “I like to compare it to ‘Spamalot,’ but the humor is more ‘Saturday Night Live’ meets ‘Who’s Line is it Anyway?'”

“Urinetown,” a recent Broadway hit and winner of three Tony awards, will mark the last mainstage show for Devlin and Justice, two familiar faces on the Corbett stage. After they graduate in May, the pair will travel with the Department of Theatre and Dance to Romania where they will take part in an international production of “Man of La Mancha.”

But for now, “Urinetown” is their main focus. Devlin, who calls the show “deceptively challenging,” said that while knowing a little about musical theater is helpful to appreciating the show, it’s not necessary. The show incorporates subtle references to “Les Miserables” and “West Side Story” among others, but most importantly, this “is a funny show about regulating pee in a town full of weird people,” Devlin said.

“It’s a ridiculous premise,” Jones agreed, “but the underlying seriousness is that giant corporations rule the world and loom over the poor.”

But Jones is quick to note that seriousness quickly goes down the toilet. “This is an experience I can’t even warn them about. This is wild.”