News at Buckley

Co-creator of URINETOWN Speaks to Cast & Crew

The co-creator of Urinetown, Mark Hollmann, spoke to cast and crew members today via Skype about their production of the musical, sharing how the Tony-award winning play became a Broadway hit, how he and the writer Greg Kotis collaborated on story and music, and why the play's social and political message continues to resonate across audiences.
First grade parent Kirsten Winikoff facillitated the conversation, having worked as a producer with Hollmann years ago on a production of another show, My Man Godfrey. "When I heard they were doing Urinetown as the musical, I thought it would be great if Mark could speak to the kids about it," says Winnikoff. "So often [whoever created the play] isn't alive anymore, so I thought this was a great opportunity."

Hollmann talked about how Kotis came up with the idea to write Urinetown during a trip to Paris, when he was broke and found himself having to budget for when he could use the public pay-per-use toilets. "It was when he was deciding whether to spend his last 50 cents on a trip to the bathroom or to 'hold it,' that the idea for Urinetown was born," says Hollmann.

From there, Hollmann explained how the show's title drove ticket sales when it opened at the New York International Fringe Festival in 1999, but then became a tough sell when they wanted to make the leap to Broadway. 

The play suffered a temporary setback when it was scheduled to open right as 9/11 hit, postponing its debut. Its somewhat bleak message of, Hollmann says, the unsustanability of population growth, and that "we're doomed unless we change our ways," has always been a theme that Kotis wants to communicate. The musical comedy aspect of Urinetown, he adds, "takes the edge off."

When one student asked Hollmann, "What was going through your mind before the first show?" he answered, "I thought it was going to crash and burn."

After a short run off-Broadway, Urinetown went on to become a Broadway hit, nominated for 10 Tony awards and winning three for "Best Book of a Musical," "Best Original Score," and "Best Direction of a Musical." Tickets to Buckley's production of Urinetown are on sale now with shows on November 7, 8, and 9 at 6:30 p.m., and a matinee performance on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 1:30 p.m. Click here to buy tickets.
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