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NEWSical the Musical

This gently satiric topical musical revue could use a bit more bite.

Christine Pedi, Christina Bianco, Rory O'Malley,
and Michael West in NEWSical the Musical
For a musical featuring ripped from the headlines stories, NEWSical the Musical, now at the 47th Street Theater, could use a bit more bite. Featuring book, music, and lyrics by Rick Crom, the gently satiric topical revue parodies various celebrities and politicians, but mostly in a superficial manner.

The closest the show gets to a substantial critique is in the number "Yes We Can," which skewers President Obama's backpedaling on a number of major issues by answering his campaign slogan (and song refrain) "Yes we can" with statements such as, "But not just yet." There are also spoofs of Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, John McCain, Sonia Sotomayor, Nancy Pelosi, and more, but the routines either avoid making a political statement or stick to aspects of these figures that have been parodied in other medium ad nauseum.

On the pop culture side, there's a cute song about "The Boy in the Balloon," and a funny little number called "Flu Shot." There are also some non-musical segments such as one in which CNN's Nancy Grace reports on the case of Snow White, who was found in a coma in the home of seven dwarves, who have been brought into custody. While initially amusing, the sketch goes on way longer than it should.

All of the various characters -- both fictional and non-fictional -- are brought to life by just four actors: Christina Bianco, Rory O'Malley, Christine Pedi, and Michael West. Bianco is the clear stand-out, and her imitations/parodies of Celine Dion and Sarah Palin are spot-on; she is also the best singer out of the four performers. Pedi gets a chance to reprise her well-known Liza Minnelli imitation to humorous effect, while O'Malley is a stitch as he cross-dresses to portray Susan Boyle. West tends to mug a little too much, but still makes valuable contributions to the show.

Crom's music borrows from various musical styles, and includes the catchy doo-wop number "We Say No," and the rather lovely ballad, "Denial," which ends the show. Director Mark Waldrop keeps the action light and breezy, although the less inspired segments, such as an eHarmony parody, still tend to drag. Jason Courson's set and Matthew Gordon's lighting are fairly basic, but David Kaley's costumes are both numerous and clever. O'Malley's outfit as "balloon boy" Falcon Heene is particularly memorable.