Musical mirrors “Daily Show” satire

By Erin Semagin Damio

From socialite Paris Hilton to Congressman Mark Foley, no public figure was left unscathed at the opening of “NEWSical: The Musical,” last Friday night in Blackman Auditorium.

Rick Crom, who previously performed in the Broadway hits “Urinetown: The Musical” and “The Goodbye Girl,” wrote and starred in “NEWSical,” which has most often been compared to “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” During “NEWSical,” for its biting satirical imitations of famous newsmakers.

The musical featured a cast of four who imitated everyone from Bill and Hillary Clinton to actress Liza Minelli, targeting entertainers and politicians alike.

“You all seem so smart,” Crom told the audience at the start of the show. “You all keep up with the news, don’t you?” Crom said his last visit to Boston had been many years ago to Boston University, and that “they don’t laugh like real people at BU,” playing to the rivalry between the two schools.

Before the show began, the audience was instructed to turn off all electronic devices including cell phones, vibrators and electric toothbrushes, but not pacemakers.

Few topics were off limits. In his first solo song, “I’m Missing You, Congressman Foley,” Crom portrayed a congressional page “who was easily turned.”

Most student reception was positive.

“I thought it was definitely a good laugh,” said Holly Peterson, a freshman undecided major.

Peterson said her favorite skit involved Michael Jackson and Peter Pan characters. In the scene, Peter Pan attempted an intervention, visiting Jackson’s at night to tell him, “Michael, you can’t touch the boys.”

“NEWSical,” which started out widely acclaimed in New York City in 2004, has been on tour throughout the country since. Crom writes new material regularly to keep up with the news, so the show has no planned end. He debuted a new song for the Northeastern audience, commenting on the political-correctness of the American holiday season.

Besides Crom, the cast starred Frank Caruso (producing and acting), Alena Watters and Kate Pazakis. The music was all keyboard, played by Ed Goldschneider.

Throughout the show, cast members seamlessly changed into their various roles. Bill and Hillary Clinton donned wigs and held copies of their respective autobiographies, each singing political mantras and finishing simultaneously with Bill saying, “I did not have sex with that woman” and Hillary saying “I’m not running for president.”

In addition to figures like these, President George W. Bush and Dr. Phil, there were also characters who represented ordinary citizens.

One old lady explained how happy she was with the post-September 11 security, singing “I got felt up at the airport – and I loved it.”

Then there was a woman whose life was ruined by Internet dating, and another whose marriage was sliding downhill after her husband was made over on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”

The show ended with a theatrical number that said those who didn’t appreciate Crom’s cynicism and still had hope and faith in people were simply in denial.

NEWsical was brought to Northeastern by the campus Center for Performing Arts (CPA) as part of its 2006-2007 season. Next year, CPA is bringing the world premiere of “At Swim Two Boys,” based on a novel by Jamie O’Neill, which includes music written by Northeastern music professor Allen Feinstein Feb. 9 and 10.

The CPA season will conclude with “Canterbury Tales,” which will be performed April 13 by the Aquilah Theater Company.

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