You won’t be seeing Jack Helbig’s byline on a Reader theater review for the next few weeks. He’s headed for Lawrence, Kansas, where Kansas University is mounting the first full-out production of The Girl, the Grouch, and the Goat, a musical Jack wrote with composer/lyricist Mark Hollmann of Urinetown fame.

Based on Dyskolos (The Grouch), by the post-Classical Greek comic writer Menander, The Girl, the Grouch, and the Goat is set in a parched village where the only working well is owned by a rapacious old guy who exploits his water monopoly by price-gouging his neighbors. Though he’d like to maintain a similar monopoly on his beautiful daughter, she falls for the son of his prime nemesis, a crusading widow. Naturally, gods get involved. 

The story doesn’t seem like an obvious choice for the stage: lots of it is set at the bottom of the well and two characters turn into birds. But it worked for Menander in the 300s BCE and it sure looked promising when I saw it–under its earlier title, The Wild Goat–in a staged reading a few years back. And anyway, who’d have picked a musical called Urinetown for a winner?