It's very rare to see an Off-Broadway show in New York have special guest stars but on Monday night, I was one of the privileged few invited to the opening night of Real Housewives of Atlanta star and Grammy Award Winner Kandi Burruss' two week run in NEWSical the Musical and boy, was I glad I got the invite.
NEWSical, written by Rick Crom, is the long-running Off-Broadway musical comedy that lampoons everyone in the news from Miley Cyrus to The Pope in 90 minutes of hilarious skits and songs that update as quickly as the news changes. It's a news magazine of sorts (think more along the lines of The Daily Show than 60 Minutes) that's ever changing and always hilarious. In 2012, the show began to introduce celebrity guest stars. Since then blogger Perez Hilton, SNL alum Cheri Oteri, Emmy Award Winner Jackee Harry, Broadway's original Annie Andrea McArdle and Latoya Jackson have all jumped in on the fun for short term runs -- but the results haven't been as hilarious as Monday night when Kandi Burruss dropped in.
Sure, she can sing -- Burruss was a member of the girl group Xscape and a Grammy winning songwriter, but it's never clear on her show just how funny she can be. First up, Ms. Burruss kindly lambasts some of her Housewives of Atlanta costars, then sings about how her work rarely takes her out of Atlanta and that while New York can be disgusting ("I just saw a pigeon eat a rat" she hilariously sings) she has really taken to the city. But, the most hilarious moment of the evening comes when she sings a parody song about her sex toy line Bedroom Kandi. Buruss' finesse and sharp comic timing fit like a glove onstage with regular cast members Susie Mosher, Christine Pedi, Dylan Thompson and Michael West.
The laughs don't end when Buruss is no longer on stage. The hilariously talented Susie Mosher does a side-splitting number playing Mother Nature and dressed as an elderly woman she yells at the audience to start cleaning up after themselves or "Momma is gonna fuck you up," and Thompson in full-on Miley-drag does a parody entitled "Miley Cyrus Twerk At Home" where he explains how you can add twerking to any occasion. Arguably one of the highlights of the evening comes when Michael West joins Christine Pedi for a hilarious skit called "Trending Topics" where they play Larry King and Liza Minnelli, respectively. This mock talk-show where Larry and Liza discuss what's "hip with the kids" is one of the funniest things I have seen on or off-Broadway in the better part of a decade. The master impressionists delight as they discuss such as Twitter, Justin Bieber's egg-throwing incident (that's how current the show is) and Chris Christie's Bridgegate.
If you're looking for Book of Mormon laughs at Off-Broadway prices, don't miss Kandi Buruss in NEWSical the Musical. The hilarious Real Housewife stars until January 26, 2014.
NEWSical the Musical plays every night (excepts Wednesdays) at 8:15pm at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street at 9th Avenue NYC) with matinees at 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays.