As the audience walked into the Lied Center for Performing Arts to see “NEWSical The Musical” on Saturday, they were greeted by spaced-out seating, a simple set of two podiums, a grand piano and a projector screen with the title “NEWSical” flashing.
Then, the lights dimmed. Executive director and chief artistic officer for the Lied Center Bill Stephan and the show’s co-producer and Nebraska native Michael D’Angora stepped onto the stage to welcome the audience. There, D’Angora mentioned how thankful the cast and crew were to be there and how much both the Lied and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln had helped make the show happen, including the UNL theater students who helped with costumes and provided pieces of the set.
“NEWSical The Musical” can be best described as Saturday Night Live in Broadway form. The show consisted of various skits that covered various current world topics, such as the presidential election, showing parody commercials and discussing current celebrity scandals.
One act featured Ryan Seacrest hosting a show in the year 2043. He had former reality TV stars, one being Kim Kardashian, talking about what they’re doing now. The musical even dove into local politics. One particular skit addressed how the Nebraska Supreme Court vetoed the marijuana legalization bill. The skit involved a woman named Karen and a hippie debating the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana, with the skit ending in Karen finally trying the drug.
What made the show enjoyable was that it didn’t try to be persuasive. It wasn’t favoring one political party over the other — they all got made fun of in the same capacity. For example, there was a skit about Trump tweeting, while another was about Joe Biden and how dull and touchy he was. It didn’t make anyone feel called out or better than the other.
The screen monitor was another appeasing asset, helping aid the context of the skits. For example, when a cast member was doing a skit about taking selfies, the screen showed various selfies he had taken. The pictures added to the humor and showed how ridiculous and silly the character was.
The live piano was also a favorable addition. The piano player ran along with the actor, which made sure the skit was told in a believable way. The piano player was even able to interact with the cast and add humor to the skits.
The impressions in the show were adequate. While some of them may have been a little overexaggerated and unbelievable, most of them were done really well. For instance, there was a skit about how celebrities were taking part-time jobs during the pandemic, which featured celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey and Adele. Both impressions were exceptional and even could’ve fooled someone with their eyes closed.
Overall, “NEWSical The Musical” was fun and entertaining. The show had humor everyone could enjoy, but it was still relatable for specific audiences. It also provided an afternoon of relaxation and escapism filled with laughter. The cast and crew all put their best into their performances and gave a believable impression of each character they played.