St James confirms UK premiere of Urinetown
The 'worst kept secret' in theatre has finally been revealed - Urinetown will receive its UK premiere at the St James Theatre next year
The UK premiere of Tony Award-winning musical Urinetown was officially confirmed at the St James Theatre today.
The project had previously been referred to only as 'UGC' as part of a viral advertising campaign, though WhatsOnStage readers have long suspected the show's identity.
Directed by Jamie Lloyd, the production will run at the St James from 11 March to 3 May 2014 (previews from 22 February).
Lloyd told WhatsOnStage.com at today's launch: "It was the worst kept secret, though we all had to pretend we didn't know what it was. So it's exciting to finally be able to confirm the show is Urinetown."
Written by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis, Urinetown is set in a Gotham-like city of the future, where a hero leads the people in an uprising against private toilets.
"I saw it on Broadway in 2001 and I loved it - I remember crying with laughter, and being aware of how incredibly pertinent it was," Lloyd said. "I also loved the atmosphere of the piece, this bleak dystopia, which I think is very original for a musical."
He revealed that the UK premiere had been discussed for some time, including talk of a production starring Bruce Forsyth at the Palace Theatre.
"We couldn't get the rights at first, but when I was in New York doing Cyrano de Bergerac, Julian [Stoneman] called me and said 'do you know a show called Urinetown?' and I said 'yes, and if you're doing it I've got to direct it'."
Book writer and lyricist Greg Kotis revealed the idea for the show came to him while backpacking across Europe.
"I had two weeks and $300 - so of course I ran out of money immediately," he said. "I was locked out of where I was staying most days, and spent a lot of the time trying to use the bathroom, but everywhere I went I had to pay for it. So I thought 'what if everyone was in the same condition I was, what kind of world would that be?'"
Kotis, whose plays include Michael Von Siebenburg Melts Through the Floorboards and The Boring-est Poem in the World, added that he hopes the humour of the show will translate to British audiences. "I grew up watching Monty Python and am hugely influenced by British comedy, so I hope the cultural divide isn't too broad."
Casting is still to be announced, though Lloyd, who is currently in rehearsals for new musical The Commitments, said it will comprise a mix of "established musical theatre stars" and newcomers to the genre. He also revealed that he hopes the St James run can provide a "springboard" to a more permanent West End home.
It's produced by Julian Stoneman Associates and The Araca Group.