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Urinetown: The Musical

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  600 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Winner of three Tony Awards, including Best Book, Urinetown is a tale of greed, corruption, love, and revolution in a time when water is worth its weight in gold.
Paperback, 144 pages
Published February 19th 2003 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1998)
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The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston LerouxLes Miserables - Updated Edition by Alain BoubilWicked - Piano/Vocal Arrangement by Stephen SchwartzThe Sound of Music by Richard RodgersFiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
best musicals
58th out of 104 books — 104 voters
Les Misérables by Victor HugoHamlet by William ShakespeareA Midsummer Night's Dream by William ShakespeareThe Phantom of the Opera by Gaston LerouxThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
The Best Plays or Musicals
145th out of 307 books — 139 voters


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Community Reviews

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Shane Hurst
Feb 24, 2015 Shane Hurst rated it really liked it
This is a delightful piece of theatre, especially for those who have a bit of background in theatre and for those who enjoy self-referential irony. Still, even the average theatre-goer looking for a bit of entertainment will find something to love in this piece.

Urinetown owes much to Brecht and his deliberate overplaying of theatrical and societal convention. The characters are all clearly "types" or "ideas" of people in the modern world. Without giving too much away, you have the personally mo
...more
Bruce
Aug 14, 2016 Bruce rated it liked it
Quick! How many science fiction-themed musicals can you name? ("The Wizard of Oz" and "Wicked" don't count.) I know, I know! Space Port! What do you mean you've never heard of Space Port, philistine?! (Admittedly that's an unproduced pastiche show I wrote about an erstwhile shuttle jockey with astraphobia.) So let's see, there's Little Shop of Horrors, Rocky Horror [Picture Show], Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds (sort of, inasmuch as this is more of a concert piece than traditional music theater) ...more
Greg Kerestan
Feb 01, 2016 Greg Kerestan rated it really liked it
"Urinetown" is a very clever piece of theatre, and it succeeds largely on its cleverness. The songs are often good but few are truly great, and the winking, perpetually meta-theatrical sense of humor can grate on your nerves if you aren't already a fan of the tongue-in-cheek comic sensibility of the Internet era and Tina Fey-penned comedies. As a satire on the Brechtian socialist musicals "The Cradle Will Rock" and "Threepenny Opera," "Urinetown" teeters between anti-capitalist agitprop and libe ...more
Janne Varvára
Apr 18, 2012 Janne Varvára rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
Years ago, my better half Magnus, brought this script to our theatre group, in hopes that it could be staged. Amateur theatre companies like ours had staged it in Sweden and Denmark, thanks to amateur-friendly rights holders. We just had no Norwegian script.
A former member, Andreas, took the initiative to have it translated, and did re-write a song, but a different production was starting up, and everyone soon had other things to think about.
Every damn time we've discussed possible future projec
...more
Maureen
Jun 03, 2012 Maureen rated it liked it
I have seen Urinetown produced twice in the last three years, so I definitely had more than a passing familiarity with the story and the music. Neither production struck me as particularly exciting or interesting (some great moments, yes, but beyond that, "conceptually muddled" is the best phrase I can think of); however, my appreciation for what the script is trying to do is definitely heightened after reading this. The satire and "meta-ness" of the script is much clearer than what was presente ...more
Marina Pierce
I love the humor and comedy in this satire. Each of the characters have strong individual story lines, and developmental points. I enjoy the romance of Hope and Bobby, and the trials they are facing. The music is enlightening, while still dealing with real life problems. While this is still a comedy, it is also slyly shedding light on many issues that are going on in everyday life. I love this show, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the script.
Droid16
Oct 10, 2015 Droid16 rated it it was amazing
It helped immensely that Urinetown is one of my favorite musicals to watch or perform in. What makes this a must READ is the accompanying 30 pages of back story provided by the creative team of Greg Kotis (for book) and Mark Hillman (for score). The chronicalling of the unproducable musical about government regulated toilets and the oppressed, both in spirit and in bladder poor, is just right to set up the reading of the show itself.
Caitlin
Jan 07, 2015 Caitlin rated it it was ok
Never saw the show and felt I needed to make up for that fact. I think this is one of those "you just had to be there" instances. Despite having listened to and liked a lot of the music, I couldn't find this to be a compelling read. Perhaps the level of satire just doesn't translate well to the page. Alas, hopefully I can catch it onstage someday.
Chuck O'Connor
Aug 07, 2013 Chuck O'Connor rated it it was ok
This is one of those works that would benefit from the possibility of 1/2-star Goodreads ratings. I think it is more a 2 and 1/2 star rather than a 2 star but is not worthy of being a 3-star, or average work. There are interesting ideas here but the play suffers from a "meta" aesthetic consonant with a self-conscious pre-9/11 culture that now seems self-righteous, cynical and, most damning, "twee" (precious in its intellectualism). There are important ideas here (e.g. the decline of society due ...more
Madeleine
I finished reading this book in an hour or so, and I really enjoyed the introduction that showed the progression from Off-Off-Broadway into the show it is today. It's an interesting musical; not my favorite, but it has good gags and I enjoy Lockstock as the narrator.
Chris Lilly
Sep 15, 2015 Chris Lilly rated it it was ok
Shelves: plays
2 jokes, one saved for the last ten minutes, the other run into the ground in the first ten minutes. In the middle hour or so it's just dull and silly.
Sbedjfink
Nov 17, 2015 Sbedjfink rated it liked it
Odd. This is Jenna's school's spring musical. Should be interesting.
Stephanie
Nov 04, 2011 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: serious
A meta-musical to die for. Unapologetic and even more relevant now that there's the Occupy movements. It's a smooth read and the humor is left up to actors (best decision). I still chuckle every time I think of Lockstock and Barrel. My vote goes to Little Sally for best character.

The love story is as paper-thin as all musical love stories - what sets it apart (as the authors state in their intros) is the lyrics. Nothing like a little Heart Anatomy 101 to break apart trite & gooey sentiments
...more
Maggie
Dec 12, 2014 Maggie rated it it was amazing
Great story, great music, great fricking everything.
Molly
Feb 21, 2008 Molly rated it really liked it
Well, I'm sort of lying - I didn't read the book; I read the script for the play. But they don't have that as an option to put up here, and I think that it counts as reading, so I'm adding the book. :)

Tabor is doing this play this weekend, and the actors told me that I'd get more out of it if I read the script ahead of time, so I did. It's witty and perceptive social commentary, with a unexpected twist at the end. I bet the book is good too!
Paul
Jul 06, 2007 Paul rated it liked it
I had to read this musical for a drama class during my last quarter at Davis. It was assigned because the drama department was also putting on the show. Actually, I played in the pit, so I know the show pretty well. Musically, the show was pretty good. It lacked some things that I like to hear in musicals, like a strong musical theme. The lyrics and lines were very well written and funny.
Briggs
Mar 24, 2010 Briggs rated it it was amazing
dead on arrival. charmless, low-reference, and bereft of wit.

every lyric and note farts itself out painfully, like a funeral dirge for your most boring aunt

months later:
I was kidding when I wrote the above. 5 stars. I love this musical, thankfully. And it's one of the few musicals I love.
Peyton
May 16, 2016 Peyton rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-stars
With a ridiculous premise, an bizarre title, and some of the best lyrics this side of Sondheim, how could this not be a great script? As with any stage show, reading is a pale substitute for viewing; however, Kotis and Hollmann's humor, wit, and razor-sharp cynicism are still fully evident.
Cat
Feb 05, 2015 Cat rated it did not like it
It's a very strange musical. We are doing a production at my school right now. It makes more sense when there are people acting it out. Just reading it is very confusing.
Andrew
May 17, 2012 Andrew rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Definatley better to see on stage, (By the way, it is SO funny on stage,) but the writting is so clever that reading it still makes you laugh.
Mkrause
Apr 14, 2010 Mkrause rated it it was amazing
So delightful. I hope I never get thrown into Urinetown, but with the strong satire and the joyous sarcasm, perhaps I would enjoy it.
Kailey
Dec 29, 2009 Kailey rated it it was amazing
I love this musical I am currently in it playing Little Sally...(A main character) and it a very hillarious script/play
Sharon
May 03, 2012 Sharon marked it as to-read
My niece Amy will be in this play/musical and thought I'd add it to my "to read" list! It's supposed to be hilarious.
Edmund Fisher
two words: hilarious. hilarious.
Joshua
Dec 30, 2012 Joshua rated it really liked it
Funny, irreverent, and well written.
Joelle
May 02, 2016 Joelle rated it liked it
Shelves: playscripts, onstage
PHAMALy
Laura Anne
Laura Anne rated it it was ok
Sep 25, 2016
Virginia Sbragia
Virginia Sbragia rated it it was amazing
Sep 24, 2016
Camila Mejía
Camila Mejía marked it as to-read
Sep 22, 2016
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