Michael West in Newsical the Musical
(© Kevin Thomas Garcia)
Michael West in Newsical the Musical
(© Kevin Thomas Garcia)
The smart and spiffy new edition of NEWSical the Musical, now at The Kirk Theatre, makes it abundantly clear that the heir to the musical comedy revue format that was owned for so long by Forbidden Broadway has finally been found. Directed at a wonderfully furious pace by the masterful Mark Waldrop, and with music, lyrics, and sketches by the witty Rick Crom, the show will have audiences laughing from start to finish.

Not only are NEWSical's comic lyrics in the same rarified league as those by Gerard Alessandrini of Forbidden Broadway fame, the producers of this show have wisely cast their revue almost exclusively with standout veterans of their legendary predecessor.

Of course, the two revues are not entirely alike, as NEWSical also has its roots in shows like TV's That Was the Week That Was and the long-running musical revue Capitol Steps. But even though there are plenty of nutty songs and skits about political, social, and cultural issues, the main thread of Newsical's comedy relies on show business allusions. For every Obama, Bush or Palin gag, you will find equal measures of Liza, Barbra, and Oprah. Not to mention Celine Dion, Joan Rivers, Lady Gaga, and even Morgan Freeman!

What makes the show so particularly delightful is the fresh way Crom has of attacking obvious subjects. He has Mel Gibson's girlfriend (played by Christina Bianco) singing a cheerful love song performed in counterpoint to Mel's recorded rants. Christine Pedi gets to do a multitude of comic voices as she plays a series of stars that have been interviewed by the retiring Larry King (brilliantly played by Michael West).

In one of the show's most hilariously conceived moments, built out of the concept that the economy is so bad that even famous actors have to take second jobs, we witness Morgan Freeman as a race horse announcer at Aqueduct. Newcomer John Walton West, as young and white as Freeman is old and Black, gives a dead-on, dead-panned impression -- so slow and stately -- that he will have you laughing in amazed disbelief!

We have seen all of this show's earlier editions and the 2011 show is, without question, the strongest of them all. And while the vast majority of the material this season is brand new, one of the few numbers that is the same is the show's finale, "Denial," which is something of a contemporary comic classic -- and the perfect ending to a nearly perfect evening.

For tickets to NEWSical the Musical, click here.