With California in a continual drought, the need for a sustainable lifestyle is prevalent now more than ever. Further, with the constantly widening income gap, the distance between the haves and have-nots continues to grow. Maintaining the balance between viability and unfeasibility is the struggle portrayed in the Tony Award-winning musical, Urinetown.
Now on stage at Santa Clara High School, Urinetown, penned by Greg Kotis with music by Mark Hollmann and lyrics by Hollmann and Kotis, explores these themes with not-so-joyous outcomes.
“Urinetown: the Musical is really about the wealthy few and the struggling, poor community and we can see it in society today – really well sometimes,” said senior Mario Ramirez, who plays the lead character. “One really relevant message of this production is the sustainability of humanity. Considering we have the drought right now this is probably the most perfect show to do. I’m very glad that we’re doing this show. I’m trying to decorate the lobby with articles about the drought because this is very relevant to people’s lives and I think that this is definitely a message that needs to be spread everywhere.”
Ramirez’s character, Bobby Strong, leads the people who use “Public Amenity #9,” a pay-per-use-toilet, to revolt against the corporate, money-hungry scoundrels at Urine Good Company, ultimately leading to the abduction of the daughter of UGC’s CEO, Hope Cladwell (senior Arianna Perez). Strong meets with UGC and is offered a suitcase full of money to return the girl and end the rebellion, ultimately agreeing to new fee hikes the townspeople cannot afford. Strong remains – well – strong in his convictions and refuses to sellout, believing people should have the privilege to pee for free. While admirable, his beliefs are not enough to convince the capitalistic powers that be at UGC to change their tune. He is arrested and taken to the feared, “Urinetown,” the same place his father was taken for urinating on the street.
“One thing I definitely love about Bobby is that he’s kind of the guy who starts things off – starts the revolution and he’s the guy who steps up and takes initiative, and says, ‘We need change,'” said Ramirez, who plans on majoring in theater at either Hofstra University in New York or California State University Fullerton. “He’s definitely a kind of person that I want to become. A person who leads people to change and better their society because I think people like that are important and necessary to us.”
Urinetown doesn’t carry a message of hope or promise. Although witty, Urtintown hones in on wastefulness and greed, forcing the audience to be mindful of their own excessiveness.
“I think people, especially now, need to realize that we as a community need to step up to achieve change and reform throughout society,” said Ramirez. “Watching the news, every day it’s always bad things, but a lot of the times it’s just because we’re not listening to each other. We stay in this passive state. We definitely need a rise up and take control of our lives, and that is something that I want people to get from this show.”
SCHS’s Urinetown opened on April 3 and has two performances remaining, Friday, April 10 and Saturday, April 11 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $13 (general admission), $10 (students with identification and senior citizens over 65), and $8 (SCHS drama students) and can be purchased through https://santaclara.schoolloop.com/drama.