This was the first of the weird off-Broadway transfers to actually conquer Broadway, and like any prototype, it has its design flaws. In a one-sentence description, it was a combination of Brechtian social commentary and Broadway genre parody about a society in the grip of a drought that enforced the use of pay toilets with fascistic brutality. The irony was played so unyieldingly that the show became rather uninvolving, and while it’s not nearly as puerile as the subject makes it sound, there were times when the toilet humor got to be a little much. But the show is quite interesting and features some brilliant writing, and the score is particular is excellent. There are stirring anthems (“Look At the Sky”, “Run, Freedom, Run”, “I See a River”) and attractive love ballads (“Follow Your Heart” and “Tell Her I Love Her”)—all played for laughs within the context of the show, of course. There are also several clever parodies of Broadway classics—the first act finale spoofs Les Miserables, the second act opening “What Is Urinetown?” uses the Jewish-Russian musical sounds ofFiddler on the Roof, and the sadistic “Snuff That Girl” sounds like a cross between “Too Darn Hot” and “Cool”. The cast was uniformly superb, but the one who stole the show was the great John Cullum as the villainous Caldwell B. Cladwell. Cullum received the gleefully malicious “Don’t Be the Bunny”, but also the irresistible song-and-dance routine “Mr. Cladwell”. The show also climaxed with an extremely clever surprise ending which I won’t spoil here. This show would normally have seemed like a shoe-in for the “Best Musical” Tony, being far more ambitious and interesting than its two main competitors, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Mamma Mia, but do you honestly think they were going to give the Tony to something called “Urinetown”? (Interestingly, the show’s leading man, Hunter Foster, is the brother of Sutton Foster, meaning they were each in shows that were in direct competition that year.) There would be better off-Broadway transfers in the same vein in coming years, but Urinetown has the distinction of being the first, and all things considered, it wasn’t at all a bad beginning.