If you were lucky enough to play “Cop #2” in your high school’s production of Urinetown like I was, you would know that Urinetown, at its core, is about climate change. For me, this begs the question: why isn’t the plot of more Tony winners about global warming? Imagine the impact we could have on climate change issues if the Broadway community, arguably the chatty-Kathy-est of all social communities, got to talking about climate change mitigation efforts. Well, here are some possible remakes of popular musicals to make them about climate change:
1 “Dear Evan Hansen, Head of the EPA”
In this remake of “Dear Evan Hansen,” our beloved, blue-shirted main character grows up to be sworn in as the 17th Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. His struggle between appeasing his politician colleagues and satisfying the needs of the public is reflected through melo-dramatic ballads and a lot of stomping-and-clapping choreography. The story is threaded with a series of letters written to Hansen from concerned citizens, who struggle to stay calm in a rapidly changing and warming world. In the end, they discover that Hansen and the citizens truly aren’t that different from each other, because of the anxieties they both struggle with. You thought the original musical was a tear-jerker…well this remake will make you call your therapist, mom, AND local representative!
2 “Cats, Extinct”
A world without Skimbleshanks, Grizabella, Mr. Mistoffelees, or Rum Tum Tugger? I know, I can’t bear to picture it either. Alas, this is the dark world that “Cats, Extinct” paints for us, where the famous felines of the Broadway musical “Cats” have gone extinct in the year 2070, when the world is in the throes of climate change. In this remake, instead of listening to these hilarious cats sing their little songs, the audience sits through 90 minutes (no intermission) of the orchestra warming up, while they watch the set of the previous “Cats” musical. The absence of cats is potent and powerful, and the audience finds themselves longing for the presence of Skimbleshanks, Grizabella, and even Rum Tum Tugger.
3 “Chicago, Underwater”
“Pop, six, squish, uh uh, cicero, lipschitz:” all sounds that the city of Chicago makes as it is getting drowned out by Lake Michigan and other surrounding bodies of water. This remake of the Broadway classic “Chicago” is half flood preparedness and half hurricane role-play scenarios, all told through Bob Fosse’s famous choreography. Trust me, if Bob Fosse knew about climate change he would have sashayed over from his Midtown apartment to personally choreograph water sequences for “Chicago, Underwater.”
4 “No Rain: a Tribute to the Beatles”
We can definitely honor John, Paul, Ringo and George while still acknowledging the world’s rapid warming! So here, instead of “Rain,” we present “No Rain,” a Beatles tribute that intertwines data and statistics about various droughts and water patterns around the world. “No Rain” remakes famous Beatles songs to make them less joyful and more sobering, such as “Lucy in the Sky with Carbon Dioxide” and “Here Comes The Sun and It’s Never Leaving!” Their 1965 hit “Help!” ironically needs no corrections.