Urinetown: The Musical is a satirical comedy
Comedy , as a popular meaning, is any humorous discourse or work generally intended to amuse by creating laughter, especially in television, film, and stand-up comedy. This must be carefully distinguished from its academic definition, namely the comic theatre, whose Western origins are found in...

Musical theatre
Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an...

, with music by Mark Hollmann
Mark Hollmann
Mark Hollmann is an American composer and lyricist.Hollmann grew up in Fairview Heights Illinois, where he graduated from Belleville Township High School East in 1981. He won a 2002 Tony Award and a 2001 Obie Award for his music and lyrics to Urinetown. He is a former ensemble member of the...

, lyrics by Hollmann and Greg Kotis
Greg Kotis
Greg Kotis is a New York-based playwright, who specializes in dark, disturbing comedies with socially relevant themes.-Earlier career:Kotis studied political science at the University of Chicago. He dropped out when took a course on the Short Comic Scene, he realised that he wanted to be part of...

, and book by Kotis. It satirizes the legal system, capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

, social irresponsibility, populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, and municipal politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

. The show also parodies musicals such as The Cradle Will Rock
The Cradle Will Rock
The Cradle Will Rock is a 1937 musical by Marc Blitzstein. Originally a part of the Federal Theatre Project, it was directed by Orson Welles, and produced by John Houseman. The show was recorded and released on seven 78-rpm discs in 1938, making it the first cast album recording.The musical is a...

 and Les Misérables
Les Misérables (musical)
Les Misérables , colloquially known as Les Mis or Les Miz , is a musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg, based on the novel of the same name by Victor Hugo....

, and the Broadway musical itself as a form. In reverse pantomime
Pantomime — not to be confused with a mime artist, a theatrical performer of mime—is a musical-comedy theatrical production traditionally found in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, South Africa, India, Ireland, Gibraltar and Malta, and is mostly performed during the...

 style, the unconventional plotline shatters audience expectations of a pleasant ending.

Urinetown debuted at the New York International Fringe Festival
New York International Fringe Festival
The New York International Fringe Festival, or FringeNYC, is a Fringe theater festival and one of the largest multi-arts events in North America. It takes place over the course of two weeks every August, spread across several neighborhoods in downtown Manhattan, notably the Lower East Side, the...

, and then was produced Off-Broadway
Off-Broadway theater is a term for a professional venue in New York City with a seating capacity between 100 and 499, and for a specific production of a play, musical or revue that appears in such a venue, and which adheres to related trade union and other contracts...

 at the American Theatre for Actors, from May 6, 2001 to June 25, 2001.