Theatre and Dance Department’s “Urinetown” Presents a Satirical Take on Capitalism and Climate Change

Ensemble members closing out a number. Facing all four sides of the audience, the 360-degree staging allowed performers to experiment with performer-audience dynamics.

Circling around the stage while captivating the crowd with flashy dance moves, a cast of colorful characters immersed the audience in their dystopian hometown with the opening number, “Urinetown,” bringing the unique charm of the musical to the Andover community. Organized by the Theatre and Dance Department, the production presented a total of four shows across the weekend, each one eliciting eruptive applause and laughter from the audience.

“Urinetown” is a satirical take on describing a dystopian future in which climate change and large corporations prevent people from urinating for free. Sebastian Cynn ’24, cast as Mr. McQueen and Robby the Stockfish, commented on how the musical tackles this balance.

“It’s a funny musical, but I also think there are a lot of parallels between a lot of stuff that you see in the play and a lot of stuff you see in contemporary times. The threat of climate change gets worse…corporations consolidate power over time…taking that and adding a satirical lens to it was something that was really interesting,” said Cynn.

While the goal of the musical was to display the topics of capitalism and climate change in a satirical and entertaining lens, the production also took time to raise concern of what could possibly happen if our world does not take action and the crushing reality behind optimistic idealism. Michelle Yao ’23, one of the audience members, shared the themes that she took note of and how they impacted her.

“I particularly took note of [Urinetown’s] commentary on climate change. While the ruling class of the town changed throughout generations, their water problem stayed constant and led to everyone’s ultimate demise. To me, it was almost funny how ironic the focus of the characters were, attempting to obtain their own visions of freedom while neglecting the very problem that led them into this fight,” said Yao.

Not only did the storyline set this production apart from musicals from previous years, but the show’s staging also made “Urinetown” particularly memorable. Simi Gandhi ’24, who played Hope Cladwell, the daughter of Urine Good Company’s CEO, explains how staging the show in a “round” allowed the actors to narrate their story in a multi-dimensional way.

“This one.. is in the round, which means there’s an audience on all four sides, and I don’t think that’s typically been done at [Andover]… For the actors, it’s a great challenge. It’s fun to play to all four sides of the audience. It helps us develop the story that we’re telling in a way that wouldn’t really be possible if it was just a normal, one sided house theater,” said Gandhi.

In order to produce this musical, the cast rehearsed every day during sports blocks and on most weekends. Marissa Simeqi ’25, co-dance captain and ensemble member, commented on how remote learning impacted the production and how the cast was able to overcome it.

“When we came back from Winter Break, we were remote for a week. That threw us off our tracks a little bit because every moment counts when you’re putting together a show… so in the end of the process, we were working really hard. But just having the support from the directors and the cast was really helpful. We got it done, and it was really great,” said Simeqi.

Although the cast faced many long rehearsals and other challenges like remote learning throughout the course of producing “Urinetown,” the cast formed a strong bond and were able to enjoy their performances. Cynn commented on how the show would not be possible without the friendship between the cast members.

“I think the most important thing for us performers is just that we had a good time in the show because a lot of this show… relied on the sense of community between the cast and having us all support each other. I hope that everyone comes away with this with a happy experience and the amazing fact that we managed to put this show together and do four shows this weekend,” said Cynn.

Editor’s Note: Michelle Yao ’23 is a Multilingual Editor for The Phillipian.