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'Urinetown' takes the stage at Bemidji State

A Tony Award-winning musical that tells the story of the ebbs and flows of a world in which having "to go" comes with a price opens tonight at Bemidji State University.

A Tony Award-winning musical that tells the story of the ebbs and flows of a world in which having "to go" comes with a price opens tonight at Bemidji State University.

"Urinetown," a satirical comedy, will open at 7:29 p.m. today in the Main Theatre of BSU's Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex. Additional performances will begin at 7:29 p.m. Saturday, 7:29 p.m. April 27, 7:29 p.m. April 28 and 3 p.m. April 29.

Tickets cost $8 for adults and $4 for children and senior citizens, and are free for BSU students with valid activity cards. The box office, located in Bangsberg Room 127, is open from 1-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Tickets may be reserved by mail, in person or by calling 755-3863. Tickets will also be available at the door.

"It's about a world in the not-too-distant future where the water supply has become polluted," described Director Patrick Carriere, chairman of BSU's Department of Theatre and Communication Arts.

In the musical, a corporation is given control to regulate the water supply and works with politicians to make it illegal to urinate for free, Carriere said. As a result, he said, there's a whole class of people scrounging up money to pay the fee.

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As the story unfolds, a fee hike sparks a rebellion, Carriere continued. He added that people who are caught urinating outside the corporation's toilets are sent to Urinetown.

"And they're never heard from again," Carriere said.

While the musical has scatological humor, it contains very little adult content, he added.

"It's not limited to a mature audience," Carriere said.

He noted that "Urinetown" is different than previous musicals produced at BSU.

"It's very funny, but it's also topical," Carriere said.

He said the musical's political tone strikes a chord with the current debate on environmental conservation and corporate responsibility.

He added that "Urinetown" is currently being produced around the United States by academic institutions and small professional theaters.

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"It's a very, very entertaining show," Carriere said.

In "Urinetown," BSU graduate student Andy Browers portrays the hero and senior Katherine Tieben portrays the heroine. Carriere added that there are no really small parts because the entire cast sings and dances.

"It's a real ensemble piece," he said, noting that the cast is made up of 25 BSU students.

Jennifer Swanson, assistant professor of vocal music, and Marcy McKee, assistant professor of music, are directing the vocals for the musical.

Greg Kotis wrote "Urinetown" and Mark Hollmann composed the music. Both collaborated on the lyrics.

In 2002, the musical was nominated for 10 Tony Awards and won three, including best original musical score. That year, it also received best musical honors during the Outer Critics Circle Awards and the Lucille Lortel Awards.

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