Welcome to Urinetown

It’s a musical whose very title may be a turnoff to prospective audiences, but the lessons of the 2001 “Urinetown: The Musical” which, according to Wikipedia, “satirizes the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, and municipal politics” is surprisingly timely.
But can director Olivia Theilemann pull off a cast of mostly 13-year-olds to capture the essence of that theme?
Her production opens tonight, Jan. 11, on the stage of Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth, 1059 N. State St. (enter on the Maple Street side).
With a dash of innocence, the energetic actors enact the scenario set in a near-futuristic time when a water shortage forces a town to use pay toilets, and thus, they must count their pennies (literally) every time when nature calls.
But Bobby Strong and his love interest Hope (yes, that’s the character’s name) challenge the law, which was established by Hope’s father, and although there’s no happy ending (and indeed, there was none promised by the show’s narrator, Office Lockstock), the point is made that citizens who live in fear can rise against what seems an unjust governmental policy.
Lisa Markowitz’s choreography, as always, seems to replicate the mass rebellion, and it’s pretty obvious some of the cast has had dance experience.
The live band, led by Louisiana native Tammy Duplantis, is spot on. When I attended rehearsal, I found that their playing overpowered the singing, and I mentioned that to Olivia, saying that in many of the BAAY productions, the band’s been onstage. So, during intermission, Olivia had the band move all their instruments behind the flats onstage, and what a most marvelous difference it made! The cast seemed to be more in touch with the musicians, and I could hear the dialogue and the lyrics!
If you want to be inspired to take action against today’s injustice, go see this show.
It runs at 7 p.m. tonight, Jan. 11, and Jan. 18; 2 and 7 p.m. Jan. 12 and 19; and 2 p.m. Jan. 13 and 20. Tickets are $10, available at baay.org and by calling 360-306-8531. There’s also a student and teacher night on Jan. 17, free with school I.D.