Earth Sucks: A Cosmic Rock Musical

There is little laudable about "Earth Sucks," an incredulous rock tuner featuring a woefully simplistic book and score by Jonas Oppenheim, generally inadequate perfs by the ensemble and no sense of style or pacing by Oppenheim, who also helms.

With:
Band: Rawn Erickson II, John Hanson, Duncan Mackay, P.J. Wyderka.

There is little laudable about “Earth Sucks,” an incredulous rock tuner featuring a woefully simplistic book and score by Jonas Oppenheim, generally inadequate perfs by the ensemble and no sense of style or pacing by Oppenheim, who also helms. The minor pluses include the colorfully zany sets and costumes by Mel Horan and Arianna Pistilli, respectively.

The plot revolves around the galactic misadventures of Echo Bell (Emily Stern), a lonely East Houston teen who becomes involved with fugitive space alien lead singer Fluhbluhbluh (Lucas Revolution) and his intergalactic rock band, Citizens of Earth (Rawn Erickson II, John Hanson, Duncan Mackay and PJ Wyderka).

Along the way, Echo defeats the rule-the-Cosmos schemes of evil outer space pop diva Ulinia Swords (Nakia Syvonne) and resolves a lifelong schism with her emotionally crippled NASA space scientist father, Max Bell (Christopher Fairbanks).

“Earth Sucks” does feature the occasionally amusing teenspeak interactions of Echo, her comely gal pals Jenn (Alicyn Packard) and Jen (Jennifer Fenten), as well as Echo’s loser of a former boyfriend Swayze (Erickson). Unfortunately, this tuner’s fragile thematic throughline is dependent on the music and the performances, which are decidedly lacking.

As the forlorn space gazer, Stern (daughter of radio host Howard Stern) projects an appealing amalgam of neediness and chutzpah but does not have the vocal veracity to elevate such melodically undernourished tunes as “Earth Sucks,” the Swayze-rejecting “I Need My Space,” and “Please Send Help” (with Fairbanks).

Very few of this tuner’s 24 songs rise above the level of barely adequate, including the instrumental backing of the Citizens of Earth Band. One exception is Scott Palmason, whose Mr. Swordo rendition of “Insecurities” (ably backed by the Jenn & Jen vocal duo of Fenten and Packard) is a highlight of the show. Also laudable is the cutesy Jenn & Jen outing on “Report on Pluto.”

Earth Sucks: A Cosmic Rock Musical

Art/Works Theater; 85 seats; $25 top

Production: A Citizens of Earth Prods. presentation of a musical in two acts, written and directed by Jonas Oppenheim. Music direction, Oppenheim. Choreography, Reed Farley, Gustine Fudicker.

Crew: Sets, Mel Horan; costumes, Arianna Pistilli; lighting, Cris Capp; stage manager, Rachel Wohlander. Opened, reviewed, Oct. 4, 2008; runs through Nov. 2. Running time: 2 HOURS. Citizens of Earth

Cast: Band: Rawn Erickson II, John Hanson, Duncan Mackay, P.J. Wyderka.

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