Sustainability and Urinetown: The Musical
Think “Urinetown” is a terrible title for a musical? “You’re in” good company:
“I don’t think too many people are going to come see this musical, Officer Lockstock,” comments Little Sally in the final moments of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Urinetown.
“Why do you say that, Little Sally? Don’t you think people wanna be told that their way of life is unsustainable?”
“That, and the title’s awful.”
Monteverde, Costa Rica is a rural community perched on the Tilaran mountains at the continental divide and surrounded by one of the world’s few examples of the delicate cloud forest biome. A popular ecotourism destination, the misty, beautiful forest supports a vast number of species and is the subject of extensive research in both pure sciences and in resource management
Monteverde has a tradition of environmental consciousness. However, this mindset is continuously at odds with the demands of rapid economic development: recent issues involve water rights, waste management from hotels and restaurants, and traffic on newly paved roads.
In other words, issues of sustainability are front and center in Monteverde – making it an especially appropriate location for a youth production of Urinetown: The Musical, a fast-paced satire about a fictitious town where extreme drought has caused the government to outlaw private toilets. And the cast – drawn primarily from two local schools that place environmental awareness and social responsibility at the center of their curricula – are bright, creative teenagers; kids who have great potential to make a difference in their home town and country.
One of FCCMT’s core values is the social relevance of musical theatre – the belief that an excellent musical not only tells a story but also explores issues relevant to the audience and cast. Urinetown’s story takes place at the intersection between issues of socio-economic disparity and severely diminished natural resources – certainly a point of fundamental relevance in the developing world. The show does not paint a picture of an easy solution, either, but dares the audience to consider the complexities of the situation. Little Sally protests this choice of ending: “What kind of musical is this? The good guys finally take over and then everything starts falling apart?”
“Like I said, Little Sally, this isn’t a happy musical.”
“But the music’s so happy!”
Officer Lockstock chuckles. “Yes, Little Sally, yes it is.”