The Perennial Theatre Company of Urbana’s theme this year is “Theatre of the Absurd” and, in line with that theme, the group’s summer musical is Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann’s “Urinetown,” which will be performed July 19, 20, 26 and 27 at the John Legend Theater in Springfield.
“Imagine a world where our very basic human rights are stolen and then sold back to us,” said Kohl King, director and co-founder of The Perennial. “A world where dignity and pride are only available to those who can pay the highest price. Imagine being forced to purchase that what comes natural to us, like breathing, sleeping or using the bathroom. This is the premise of ‘Urinetown.’”
The musical premiered in 2001 and was the winner of three Tony Awards, three Outer Critics Circle Awards, two Lucille Lortel Awards and two Obie Awards. King describes the show as a “blistering satire on social and political responsibility.”
The play describes a world devastated with severe drought, making water extremely scarce. The government is forced to intervene and outlaws private toilets, forcing people to pay what little they have to use public amenities for their private business. Those who don’t are arrested and exiled to the dreaded Urinetown.
Show dates are July 19, 20, 26, 27 at 7 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on July 20. The play will be performed at the John Legend Theater, located within the Springfield Center of Innovation: The Dome in Springfield’s Promise Neighborhood, 700 S. Limestone St., Springfield, OH 45505. Purchase tickets at https://bit.ly/2Gb0Rdj or at the door. Tickets cost $16, or $14 for students and veterans.
All of The Perennial’s shows this year are classified as Theatre of the Absurd (or absurdist theatre), a style of play post-WWII and developed by many European playwrights.
“Absurdist theatre comes from a very dark time in history. It comes from the most troubled part of the human soul,” said King. “We live in a time now where a lot of people are struggling. Struggling with life. Struggling to trust and to love.”
In June, Cafe Paradiso, an Italian bistro in Urbana, hosted a fundraiser for The Perennial to help pay for production costs. Paradiso raised and donated $842.20. The Perennial will use this money to help fund the rest of its 2019 shows, which include “The Birthday Party” by Nobel Prize-winning author Harold Pinter and “Ghosts” by Henrick Ibsen.
“(Cafe Paradiso) was our very first supporter all the way back in 2015 when we were just getting started, and they continue to support us to this day. We feel truly blessed to share a community with such fine people,” said King.
A percentage of the proceeds from The Perennial’s 2019 productions will benefit the Champaign County Animal Welfare League, an organization created to establish and operate an animal preserve, pet cemetery, dog training facility and rehabilitation home for unwanted pets. The CCAWL also provides a low-cost spay & neuter clinic open to the public.
Follow The Perennial on Facebook to stay updated on show dates and upcoming productions.
For more information about The Champaign County Animal Welfare League, visit www.champaigncoanimalwelfareleague.com.
Info from The Perennial Theatre Company of Urbana.