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Originally published Friday, August 1, 2014 at 6:16 AM

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Two Seattle premieres and the return of ‘Urinetown’

“Urinetown” opens and Seattle premieres of plays by David Ives and Donald Margulies hit local stages in early August.

Seattle Times theater critic


A play about war journalists, a musical about plumbing and a new take on a boffo 17th-century French comedy are among the local productions ushering in August.

“Time Stands Still”

In an interview about his experiences as a war correspondent, former battlefield journalist Chris Hedges discussed a state of mind he calls a “combat high.” Said Hedges, “It’s essentially an adrenaline rush. It’s possible to hate war, yet at the same time become attracted to those experiences.”

In Donald Margulies’ well-lauded 2009 play, a woman photojournalist returns to the U.S. from the Iraq war to recover from wounds, psychic and physical, and to sort out her troubled romantic relationship with a fellow war correspondent. To do that, she must confront an addiction to the “combat high” that keeps luring her back to the line of fire.

ReAct Theatre gives the thoughtful, unsparing Broadway drama its Seattle debut, in a production staged by David Hsieh. It takes place at UW’s Ethnic Cultural Theatre, and as is customary with ReAct, some of the box-office proceeds will benefit local charities.

Aug. 1-24, UW Ethnic Cultural Theatre, Seattle (206-364-3283 or


Wacky and wild as this multiple Tony-winning Broadway musical is, news of water shut-offs for many citizens of Detroit and limited water-usage regulations in drought-plagued California make the plot not as far-fetched as one might assume.

Redmond’s SecondStory Theatre is offering a teen version of the show. And Balagan Theatre and Seattle Musical Theater both had plans to present the musical this year. However the two stage companies chose to pool their own resources to mount “Urinetown” in Seattle as their first coproduction.

Composed by Mark Hollmann, and written by Greg Kotis (who both collaborated on the lyrics), the satirical tuner conjures a community where private commodes are outlawed, a greedy corporation runs the fee-based public johns and the local citizenry and political bureaucracy war over a precious liquid commodity.

Toilet humor abounds, of course, as do smartly spoofy production numbers. Balagan producer Jake Groshong directs.

Aug. 8-24, Seattle Musical Theatre, Magnuson Park, Seattle (800-838-3006 or

“The School for Lies”

Though the great French comedy master Molière did pen some plays with the word “school” in the title (“School for Wives,” “School for Husbands”), this romp is based on his 1666 classic, “The Misanthrope.”

The vital and enterprising Sound Theatre Company tackles this revamp by infernally clever David Ives (“Venus in Fur”), which like Molière’s original concerns a cranky cynic who disdains the frivolous, aristocratic Parisian society around him.

Actually, he despises just about everything and everyone in that world with one glaring exception: a foxy young party girl whom even he can’t resist.

Like the Molière script it’s based on, the whole thing is written in couplets (but English ones). The Seattle premiere is co-directed by Teresa Thuman and Ken Michels.

Aug. 7-24, Center Theatre, Seattle Center (800-838-3006 or

Misha Berson:

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