Newsical

Rick Crom
Upstairs at Studio 54 Theater
New York
(2005)

Newsical publicity image

The best thing about Newsical is the fantastic title that says it all. This is a news review comedy presented in cabaret style in the wide, low-ceilinged bar above Broadway's Studio 54.

Four performers sing and talk their way through a series of comedy pieces, loosely based on today's news and this is where the show has a problem.

For these shows to succeed, they must be totally topical, picking up on stories in the news in the current week, preferably that day and at their best, anticipating the next day.

When Newsical does this, it is at its best and can be extremely funny, for example lampooning the unfortunate Governor McGreevey of New Jersey, whose gay antics were outed leading to a swift but manly resignation. Similarly, the media is packed with stories about a shortage of flu vaccine and this is ripe for comedy.

The other question is whether writer Rick Crom is too nice for this job. The blackest comedy today will be based on the tragic tsunami in the Indian Ocean. He brings in half a sentence on the subject evoking gasps from a fully attentive audience but then goes no further. You can bet that stand-up comics in Britain are building careers on this subject already.

Otherwise, there are sketches on all of the old favourites, Michael Jackson, Liza Minelli (falling over yet again this week), George Dubya and even Barbra Streisand.

The artistes are all pretty solid with Jim Newman at his best wearing wigs and imitating presidents past and present.

The real star though is the blonde-haired Stephanie Kurtzuba, a lady with a good singing voice and well-developed sense of humour. She also has a real energetic spark, exemplified by her stage dive into the lap of a delighted audience member!

Reviewer: Philip Fisher