The Jungle heads to Urinetown

Bradley Greenwald as Officer Lockstock in Urinetown.
Bradley Greenwald as Officer Lockstock in Urinetown.
Photo by Drew Trampe
After a successful run of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the Jungle in 2011, you could wonder what director John Command would do for an encore.

He's going to Urinetown.

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Command has taken the reigns of the unexpected Broadway hit, returning to the piece he first tackled with the Bloomington Civic Theatre in 2007.

"This is beyond my favorite place to work. I have never seen a show at this theater I didn't like," Command says.

For the uninitiated, Urinetown is a dystopian story set in a place where a years-long drought has led to serious water rationing. So severe that citizens have to pay every time they want to use the toilet.

Along the way, we meet Bobby Strong, an accidental revolutionary who butts heads with city mastermind, Mr. Cladwell, and falls for the evil scion's daughter, Hope. Battles are fought, sides are joined, and plenty of songs are sung.

"I love the spoofiness," Command said of the musical. "Water will be the kingpin word in 20 years, so I think it is an important subject matter."

Beyond that are the songs crafted by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis that -- like the story -- spoof plenty of musical theater conventions. "There is no one style. There is a number that is like Les Miz. Another that is like A Chorus Line, or others that are from a 1940s musical. There are so many lovely moments," Command says.

The creators' love of musical theater comes out throughout the show. Command notes that the second act opens with three big production numbers. "One is West Side Story, one is Fiddler on the Roof, and one is like 'Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat,' all within 11 or 12 minutes. I get goose-pimples when I watch it,"  he says.

Command has brought some actors from his earlier Bloomington production, including leads Patrick Morgan and Tiffany Seymour. The cast also includes Jungle favorites like Bradley Greenwald as helpful narrator Officer Lockstock and Gary Briggle as evil Caldwell B. Cladwell.

The Jungle is an intimate theater, but Command is able to have a cast of about 20 players for Urinetown. "We've opened the space all the way. It uses every inch of the stage box," he says of the production's look. The set will be designed by the Jungle's artistic head, Bain Boehlke.

"We have huge production numbers and they fit just beautifully. It really hasn't been a problem," Command says.

Ultimately, "I am thrilled to be here. I brought in a whole lot of people I have worked with in the past. It can be a disaster or a lot of fun. Here, it is working just great."


Friday-Aug. 11
The Jungle Theater, 
2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
For tickets and more information, call 612.822.7063 or visit online. 

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Jungle Theater

2951 Lyndale Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408


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