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Paulanne Simmons

"Newsical The Musical: End of the World Edition" Has Lots of New Laughs

Newsical: The Musical: End of the World Edition
Directed by Mark Waldrop
Theater Row
410 West 42 Street
Opened Feb. 1, 2012
For performance schedule visit www.telecharge.com
Tickets: $70 (212) 279-4200 or (800) 432-7250
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Feb. 18, 2012

As the presidential campaigns heat up, there's plenty of opportunity for great satire. But Rick Crom, the creator and writer of the long-running "Newsical The Musical," a staged news magazine that summarizes the headlines of the day in song and skits, doesn't rely exclusively on politics to produce big laughs.

The newest "End of the World Edition" takes aim not only at Republican hopefuls and the president they are trying to replace but also celebrities of every stripe. Mark Waldrop directs four stars, Christina Bianco, John Walton West, Christine Pedi and Michael West, who have perfect timing and the ability to keep a straight face through all their antics. They also have considerable skills at impersonation.

Thus we see a present-day, foul-mouthed Jimmy Stewart in Washington; an unemployed Joan Rivers working at Walmart; and Liza Minnelli and Lady Gaga speaking at a rally for women's equality.

Crom, in the wonderful tradition of farce, sees comedy in the most serious and/or contentious of subjects. If no one plans a wedding like gay men, which set of parents pays the bill when both of the newlyweds wear pants? And speaking of gays, "Newsical" notes that when Jews and gays meet, there is never violence. There is musical theater!

There's also Captain Francesco Schettino of the doomed Italian cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, trying to explain how he ended up on a lifeboat and fled the disaster; Arnold Schwarzenegger with his illegitimate children; and Kim Kardashian auctioning off her wedding gifts.

Of course, politics does often prevail. Some of the funniest skits include a Mitt Romney declaring, "I'm still here."

The show ends with a rousing rendition of "You're in Denial," which tells people in the audience that if they don't get the facts straight or don't want to believe what's right in front of their eyes, perhaps they'd better get a new pair of glasses.
Indeed the greatest virtue of "Newsical the Musical: End of the World Edition" may be that it keeps us out of denial and at the same time laughing

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