nytheatre.com review by Julie Congress
August 17, 2007
Wars, global warming, pollution, ozone destruction, and even hairspray are destroying Earth. Our planet is sick from these "internal problems" and it has manifested itself as a big stomach ache for the character of Earth in Earth's Vacation, a fun and educational musical for kids.
Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars have decided to throw a surprise birthday party for their pal Earth. They chat about Saturn's beautiful rings, remark on how hot Mars is (in every sense of the word), and are repulsed by big Jupiter's gassiness. But Earth isn't happy—he's not feeling well and wants to go on vacation for a few trillion years, just go and leave the Milky Way. It's left to the other planets and the stars (the audience) to convince Earth to stay and come up with ways for the "Earth creatures" to make him feel better.
The musical numbers, composed by David Pinkard, are cute and silly. Melissa Bayern is bubbly and loud as Saturn, Myles Evans is broad and silly as the gaseous Jupiter, Jose Rivera is lively and energetic as the hip-hop-esque Mars, and Joshua David Bishop is very sympathy-worthy as the forlorn Earth. The ensemble works well together, big grins across their faces as they execute the endearingly cheesy choreography. They seem fully committed to the show and work well with the kids in the audience. Rivera, in particular, encourages and educates the "stars" without being patronizing, never dumbing things down for them.
Playwright/director Maura Kelley has created an amusing, instructive show. There are also a few lines thrown in for the older members of the audience, including a reference to creationism (thus why they can't be sure how old Earth is) and calling Pluto a "little person planet" rather than a "dwarf planet."
The kids in the audience, though a little wary of the interactive parts, seemed to be having fun and learning a lot. And I learned something too. The show mentions a "new" planet, nicknamed Xena. Well, according to Wikipedia, Eris (aka Xena) "is the largest known dwarf planet in the solar system and the ninth largest body orbiting the Sun directly" and was discovered in 2005. So thank you, Earth's Vacation, for helping me brush up on my astronomy and for instructing a new generation on how to save our planet.