Satire In The Musical Urinetown Film Studies Analysis

Table of Content

The musical Urinetown, by Mark HollmannA andA Greg Kotis, falls in the category of the modern “ anti-musical ” with its nontraditional construction and content, non merely interrupting the cast of what makes musical theaters, but doing sarcasm of itself and its relations in the procedure. This essay will look into how Urinetown utilizations satire to make a new, participatory function for audience unimplemented by its predecessors. This is relevant theatrical subject as it suggests a contrast from musical theater ‘s historical construction, every bit good as altering societal functions in the theatrical civilization. To near this proposition, I will look into by researching the creative activity of Urinetown, every bit good as traditional musicals to function as a comparative construction. I will utilize this research to pull decisions about Urinetown ‘s satirical nature and the function it creates for the audience.


My involvement for Urinetown came with the proclamation of a local high school ‘s theatrical season, which included the musical. Having heard the name but being unfamiliar with the show, I began to research the secret plan and was enthralled by the narrative. Equally cockamamie as it is, Urinetown has brooding subjects with societal commentary. The musical tells the narrative of citizens in a town where all public toilets are authorities operated. Equally petroleum as it is, much of the focal point of the musical is on holding to “ pay to make ” . While Hollmann and Kotis take a humourous attack, the show does incarnate the people ‘s subjugation by their ain authorities, a subject all excessively familiar in a historical and current context. Urinetown creates a civilization of despair, the frequent effect of unequal wealth distribution. Corrupt members of the Urine Good Company, or UGC, live in luxury while mean citizens can non even afford to carry through their most basic demands. Essential to the secret plan are the characters which embody theatrical originals. These originals will be included in my range of probe along with Hollmann and Kotis ‘ creative activity of the musical. My involvement in audience function came with my attending of the North Carolina Governor ‘s School in the country of theater. During our five hebdomads, we created a show which challenged traditional audience functions. The outlook of a theatre frequenter is to sit and be entertained, possibly laugh and call, and so travel place. This actor-audience relationship has been upheld majorly through Vaudeville, opera, play, comedies, and most theatre conceivable. My probe intends to turn out that Urinetown does non adhere to these traditional audience functions, and alternatively utilizations satire to dispute its viewing audiences, doing them uncomfortable and offering a more participatory, prosecuting theatre experience. My methodological analysis for this essay will chiefly be analysis of research sing record of Urinetown and its formation, and traditional musical theater construction and the satirical comparing of it.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront


Urinetown was inspired by the plants of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, specifically Threepenny Opera. Threepenny Opera, which transformed antique opera and light opera signifiers, incorporated a crisp political position, and the sound of 1920s Berlin dance sets and nightclub, is most strikingly similar to Urinetown. From the show ‘s opening figure, the audience is introduced to an laden society run by a corrupt authorities, shown through operatic chorus chords and wordss. The show mimics others through its figure, Too Much Exposition, jabing merriment at the impression of an surplus of background cognition to destroy a show, taking pangs at Threepenny Opera and other musicals such as Les Miserables. Dark and dramatic with rough wit laced on top, Threepenny Opera surely bears a resemblance to Urinetown.

UrinetownA is a premier illustration of dry withdrawal, but it was n’t the first musical to utilize this position. Though this attack has non been standard pattern for most of the history of musical theater, it has appeared inA Of Thee I SingA ( 1931 ) , A The Cradle Will RockA ( 1937 ) , A Guys and DollsA ( 1950 ) , A The Threepenny OperaA ( 1954 ) , How to Succeed in Business Without Really TryingA ( 1961 ) , A HairA ( 1968 ) , A CompanyA ( 1970 ) , A GreaseA ( 1972 ) , A Chicago ( 1975 ) , A 42ndA StreetA ( 1980 ) , A AssassinsA ( 1990 ) , A Bat BoyA ( 1997 ) , and others. These shows broke the traditional function of musical comedy.

Urinetown strays from ego in favour of self-deprecation. John Bush Jones writes in his bookA Our Musicals, Ourselves, “ It seems no accident that a bunch of grave musicals came right at the terminal of the century. Among serious and thoughtful originative people, the terminals of centuries have frequently provoked a batch of serious and thoughtful thought, and the production of plants of literature, art, or in our instance, musical theater of particularly unsmiling earnestness. “ A UrinetownA Rebels against this earnestness, even mocking it. This showA acknowledgesA its ain art signifier, but is besides portion of what it mocks, taking on issues such as corporate corruptness, environmentalism, civil autonomies, category warfare.

Ironic withdrawal has now become so present in telecasting and modern civilization that it no longer packs the same artistic or political clout. As our civilization evolves, so must storytelling. Rodgers and Hammerstein were groundbreaking in 1943, but times have changed. Contracting to their luxuriant storytelling, new musicals are moreA honest, A interrupting the “ 4th wall, ” that barrier of “ prevarications ” between histrion and audience.

Urinetown, foremost opening in New York in the summer of 1999, referencedA tonss of films and other spots of American dad civilization, includingA The Wizard of Oz. Contrasting though, where Dorothy ‘s altruism and courage saved the twenty-four hours inA Oz, the traits result in hopelessness inA Urinetown. Even though both narratives take topographic point in an epoch of depression, they have separate audiences.

Referenced in the musical is a response to Thomas Robert Malthus’A Essay on the Principles of PopulationA ( 1798 ) , which discusses the inclination of human existences to surpass their resources. This heavy and dark allusion contrasts to the traditional musical, even in Urinetown with its light potty-humor.

Urinetown breaks the cast of the traditional musical and yet, in certain ways, is true to conventional musical theater, the show ‘s construction pickings after a Rodgers and Hammerstein theoretical account. The mark ranges from direct courts toA Threepenny OperaA to traditional laies to hymns, gospel, Bach, and the B-52s. The work, Urinetown, though it seems shallow and petroleum, is carefully constructed theater, presented by hideous fortunes.

UrinetownA registered with audiences on many degrees, like any good faery narrative, supplying for each audience member a somewhat different message, inquiry, or experience. The show received 10 Tony nominations, winning for best mark, best book, and best manager. Bruce Weber inA The New York TimesA called it “ a sensational piece of public presentation art, one that acknowledges theatre tradition and pushes it frontward every bit good. ” Linda Winer inNewsdayA called it “ elevated absurdity of the highest order that makes a sweet instance for the renewing return to cognizing folly and the cleverly absurd. ” Rex Reed inA The New York ObserverA wrote, “ What sort of musical is this? A fresh, alone, original, insolent, colourful, exciting, irreverent, surprising and fantastic musical, that ‘s all. ” Clive Barnes of theA New York PostA called it “ a wild and happy mix of seize with teething sarcasm and loving lampoon. ” Urinetown is both aA satireA of American political and societal forces, and besides aA parodyA of musical theater as an art signifier, both facets every bit good crafted. The show ran 965 public presentations, more than two old ages, a tally that might hold lasted far longer if non for September 11 and its crippling of Broadway.

Unlike traditional musicals, Urinetown’sA utmost emotionality is followed by cynicism. When a metaphor pops up, it is quickly diffused by literalism, such as the regard to the distance. Even the declaration of the secret plan contrasts idealism with calamity and rough world. Literalism is present throughout the show, from the conversations between Lockstock and Little Sally about the show itself, to the gap figure that tells the audience where the bathroom is and what should be on their tickets. Of the two love vocals, one focuses less on emotion and more on the actual organic structure, and the other is relayed through Little Sally, as one of the lovers is already dead.

UrinetownA is satirical, express joying at the cockamamie antique musical comedy, but besides express joying at shows likeA Les MizA orA PassionA which reject those conventions and possibly travel excessively far the other manner. A Urinetown rises inquiries about what we expect from musicals, whether or non musicals facing an issue are fulfilling amusement, why certain narratives or subjects are musicalized, whether or non serious musicals areA tooA serious.A Hollmann and Kotis use musical theater cliches ironically throughout the show, utilizing traditional musical comedy and doing it more barbarous, dark, and modern.

Each clip Officer Lockstock and Little Sally speak about what musicals “ should n’t make, ” they ‘re besides speaking about devices certain musicals have used traditionally.A WhenA UrinetownA kills off its hero, the gag is onA Carousel. The violent-rage dance figure, “ Snuff That Girl, ” consciously parodies “ Cool ” inA West Side Story, right down to the finger catchs. Cladwell ‘s excuse vocals comically mirror Javert ‘s “ Stars ” inA LesA Miserables.A In the original Broadway production ofUrinetown, A one spot of stage dancing even invoked the now famousA Les MiserablesA March. The scene in which Cladwell bribes Bobby mirrors the same scene inA The Cradle Will Rock. And of class, A UrinetownA both utilizations and abuses the devices of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill and theirA Threepenny Opera.

The vocal “ Mr. Cladwell ” is a pang at traditional musicals which laud over the lead, like “ Hello, Dolly, ” “ Mame, ” and others, but alternatively of observing love for the taking lady and her optimistic kindling, here the adoring chorus is observing homicidal, unbridled capitalist economy. The “ Cop Song ” is both a testimonial toA ThreepennyA but besides an dry nod to hip-hop civilization. While hip-hop music has historically taken force against the hapless and turned it back on the constabulary, here the violent imagination normally used forA anti-police rhetoric is given to the policeA themselves, with the force now turned back on the hapless once more. Other names in the show follow the Dick Tracy, with Robbie the Stockfish, Billy Boy Bill, Soupy Sue, Little Becky Two Shoes, Tiny Tom, and Hot Blades Harry.

Sally ‘s description of whyA UrinetownA is n’t a good musical is amusing exactly because the facets she thinks are losing are no longer indispensable facets to musical theatre.A She thinks all musicals are 1920s musical comedies, but one of the cardinal gags of this show is that almostA noA musicals are like that any longer. UrinetownA takes musical comedies, serious book musicals, political musicals, and construct musicals and takes them at extremes, demoing us precisely how far weA haveA strayed from the 1920s. Its really being mocks anyone in the audience who still holds those mentalities about musicals in this age of Rent, Assassins, Passion, Bat Boy, Reefer Madness, Chicago, Floyd Collins, A New Brain, A andA Hedwig and the Angry Inch.A Urinetown demonstrates that at conventional musical is no longer the convention.

Bobby Strong is the archetypical American musical comedy lead being charming, cocky, and heroic. This traditional character extends back to George M. Cohan in his 1904 musicalA Little Johnny Jones, Billy inA Anything Goes, Joey inA Pal Joey, Larry Foreman inA The Cradle Will Rock, Billy inA Carousel, Woody inA Finian ‘s Rainbow, Harold Hill inA The Music Man, Nathan inA Guys and Dolls, and Ponty inA How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Ms. Pennywise is another archetypical musical theater character, the immoral but realistic older adult female that Bertolt Brecht seems to hold invented with Threepenny Opera, and good as in other musicals such as Mrs. Lovett inA Sweeney Todd, Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret, and Joanne inA Company. Josephine Strong is the archetypical older wise adult female, fall ining Aunt Eller inA Oklahoma! , Nettie inA Carousel, Lady Thiang inA The King and I, the Mother Abbess inThe Sound of Music. But here, the older adult female does non hold much to offer in the manner of wisdom.

UrinetownA besides takes much inspiration from Marc Blitzstein ‘s 1937 political musicalA The Cradle Will Rock, which was itself to a great extent influenced by Brecht and composer Kurt Weill. The Cradle Will RockA ” label names ” like Mr. Mister, Editor Daily, Dr. Specialist, Reverend Salvation, Harry Druggist, and Larry Foreman. Greg Kotis did the same thing inA Urinetown, with the heroic BobbyA Strong, the well dressed Mr.A Cladwell, the optimistic and richA Hope Cladwell, the amoral but practical Ms.A Pennywise, and the copsA LockstockA andA Barrel. The bulls ‘ names are amusing in relation the actual significances of the phrase. But it ‘s besides why the original theatrical production of “ The Cop Song ” was ill-conceived ; if Lockstock and Barrel are the lone two bulls on the force, if they are the whole constabulary force, “ lock, stock, and barrel. ”

UrinetownA is created with the spirit of Bertolt Brecht, peculiarly hisA Threepenny Opera and other political theater. Brecht aimed to prosecute the audience through theirA brainsA alternatively of theirA Black Marias, to acquire them toA thinkA about the issues and inquiries put before them on phase and invariably reminding them of the over the top nature of storytelling while keeping degrees of admiration and self-criticism. The set projected an environment instead than stand foring it ; the little chorus, vocals to the audience, and elegance with which even the most serious scenes are performed commented on the fable nature of the show and the actions shown on phase.

Reflecting the mentality of his work, Brecht one time wrote, “ Nothing is more revolting than when an histrion pretends non to detect that he has left the degree of field address and started to sing. ” It ‘s a bold statement, but non an unjust one. Brecht wanted truthfulness and pragmatism on phase, non theA public presentation. He rejected the ignoring of the Fourth Wall and thought that the Rodgers and Hammerstein realistic playing is n’t really the least spot realistic since most people in the existent universe do n’t interrupt into four-part harmoniousness. To Brecht, the act of singing onstage is more honorable, more existent, and connects the histrion to the audience more to the full because he ‘s non seeking to “ gull ” them. This is n’t an attack that works withA shows such as Brigadoon, but is about necessary forA Urinetown. Urinetown uses all of these thoughts presented by Brecht.

Urinetown is satirical in its subject, secret plan, characters, and music Numberss, parodying traditional musicals every bit good as modern “ anti-musicals. ” Urinetown peculiarly additions influence through the satirical rules of Berlolt Brecht.

Cite this page

Satire In The Musical Urinetown Film Studies Analysis. (2016, Dec 10). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront