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How to Save the World and Find True Love in 90 Minutes

This new musical about a terrorist plot proves to be a fast-paced bore. logo
Anika Larsen and Michael McEachran
in How to Save the World...
(© Carol Rosegg)
A smartass musical that isn't all that smart, How to Save the World and Find True Love in 90 Minutes is that most unusual of productions: a fast-paced bore. There are plenty of talented people involved in this show at New World Stages, but what the show -- co-written by Jonathan Karp (book and lyrics) and Seth Weinstein (music) -- ultimately proves is that creating a post-9/11 musical comedy about fear and terrorism is no easy feat to pull off.

Afraid-of-everything Miles Muldoon (Michael McEachran) works in a bookstore at the United Nations, but dreams of working and sleeping with a sexy diplomat named Violet Zipper (Nicole Ruth Snelson). Meanwhile, Violet is having a secret affair with a goofy, goggled terrorist with a comically indeterminate accent (also played by McEachran), who plans to unleash a (literally) nauseating new virus at the UN.

The show's paper-thin plot hinges on an increasingly overused device. Miles -- after a blow to the head -- becomes capable of hearing the thoughts of everyone around him. That's how he learns of Violet's involvement with the terrorist, as well as the fact that his pretty slacker best friend and co-worker, Julie Lemmon (Anika Larsen), is in love with him. Add a Greek chorus, which this show insists upon adding, and you've got yourself a cliché stew.

Moreover, there are lots of self-referential throwaway lines that let you know the show's creators are just kidding around. But once the easy jokes are made, there is nothing left at stake. Nonetheless, choreographer/director Christopher Gattelli has expended a great deal of energy in staging the show, albeit to little effect and little applause.

McEachran, an amiable and talented fellow, scores best as the terrorist because he's playing against type. Snelson doesn't score at all; she sings and dances adequately but she displays little character in her character except sexy poses. On the other hand, Larsen shows an understated style in her comic delivery that is considerably more appealing and she also has a terrific voice.

Stephen Bienskie, Natalie Joy Johnson, and Kevin Smith Kirkwood, who play all the other characters (including a Yogi instructor, a therapist, and Condi Rice), fulfill their duties with vigor. The only other commendably creative aspects of the production are Larsen's hairstyle and the costume design by David Murin.

There are some entertaining moments and occasional laughs in How to Save the World..., but even at a mere 90 minutes, there aren't enough of them to sustain this underachieving piece of work.

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