"Urinetown" — it's definitely a name that stops people in their tracks.
"When I tell people about the show, they ask, 'Is it "You're In Town?" and I have to say, 'No, it's "urine-town," ' " laughs senior Collin Riley, cast member and costumer for Modesto High School's spring musical, "Urinetown."
"But don't let the name stop you from seeing the show!" adds junior Amanda Melhuish.
"Urinetown" is far from the usual high school musical. In fact, the show is "something of a satire on classical plays," according to junior Kelsea Mensonides. "Urinetown" was nominated for numerous Tony Awards and won for best director, best musical score and best book of the musical.
The premise of the Broadway hit is that a terrible water shortage has crippled a nameless city, and to regulate water consumption, the government has outlawed the use of private toilets. All residents are forced to use public, pay-per-use restrooms owned and operated by the Urine Good Company. Those who try to circumvent the fee are sent to Urinetown.
The show's plot centers around a revolution in Urinetown to overthrow the Urine Good Company and its president. "There are lots of plot twists, and it's very funny," says sophomore Naftali Wayne.
"The show is clever, witty, and sarcastic," says Collin. "It's definitely a farce."
Ryan Powell, a junior, plays the male lead, Bobby Strong, the leader of the revolution and the show's hero. Senior Laura Jensen takes the female lead role of Hope Cladwell, daughter of Caldwell B. Cladwell, the evil president of the company that controls all the city's public bathrooms.
"My character is like every bright-eyed, idealistic heroine you've come to expect from classic musicals. Hope is completely innocent and believes all wrongs should be righted," says Laura, who, along with Collin, also did the show's costumes.
From costumes to sets, "Urinetown" is designed entirely by Modesto High students. Students also provide all the lighting and tech work for the show. "It's often overlooked how much work goes into a high school show," Collin says. "We had auditions in December and began rehearsals in January."
The musical may be a lot of work, but it's plenty of fun, too, as Kelsea can attest. "We're a really fun group, and we all get along well," she said.
"Urinetown" has performances Friday, Saturday and March 26-27. There will be evening shows at 7:30, plus a 2 p.m. matinee March 27, in the Modesto High auditorium, First and H streets. Tickets are $5 for students and $8 for adults.
Julia Jensen is a junior at Modesto High School and a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom journalism program.