–How do you explain gravity?
–Earth sucks.

Earth Sucks is not only an explanation for gravity.  It’s also the title of a new musical about an Earth girl named Echo Bell who falls for a guy named Flubluhbluh, a musician from outer space.

The following synopsis will hopefully give you some idea if Earth Sucks is likely to be your cup of tea:

Though her friends tell her “You’re so lucky to be dating a real aspiring session musician,” Echo is tired of her boyfriend Swayze.  She dreams of an extraterrestrial lover, to which her best friend’s sarcastic response is, “Like yeah, I’m sure you’re going to get an alien boyfriend.”

Swayze has written a song for Echo entitled “And The Pain,” the lyrics of which go “And the pain. And the pain. And the pain.  And the pain. And the pain.  And the pain. And the pain. And the pain.  And the pain. And the pain.” “And The Pain,” gets thumbs down from Echo, to which Swayze replies, “I am my music. You can’t hate my music and love me.”  “I don’t think I love you,” Echo tells him. Even worse than her declaration of non-love is Echo’s refusal to have sex with Swayze. After all, what’s the point of having a girlfriend if she won’t have sex with you? On the other hand, if Echo wants to call it quits, at least that would be an excuse for breakup sex, right?

“I need my space,” Echo announces. “I’m leaving you for space.”  Literally.  When Echo gets into the school bus the next day, she discovers a rock band inside and soon realizes that the bus is in fact a space ship, manned by Fluhbluhbluh and his bandmates Kloopydoopy, Kloopydoopy 2, Phloink, and John.  “We are Creatures Of Earth,” Fluhbluhbluh tells* Echo, then explains that this is the name of their band.  In fact, they’re from the planet Hangfangdangmangtang.  “We Come In Peace,” they sing to Echo.  “Oh my God!” she exclaims.  “You came to rescue me.”

*Fluhbluhbluh, who looks a bit like a red and gold Gumby in head-to-toe lycra, speaks through a sock puppet on his left hand.

Echo gets some disturbing news from her new space buddies. “Music destroyed our planet,” Fluhbluhbluh tells her. “Allow me to explain in song.”

Apparently, to prevent Earth from similar destruction, Fluhbluhbluh and his fellow space musicians must destroy the evil rock singer, Ms. Ulinia Swords. “If I help you defeat Ulinia, will you take me away from here forever?” Echo asks her new boyfriend. What’s an alien in love to do but agree to his girlfriend’s wishes and seal his promise with a kiss, her lips to his hand puppet. “You just kissed my bush hole!” he explains. (Words have different meanings on his planet.)

And that’s pretty much the way it goes in Earth Sucks, the brainchild of writer-director Jonas Oppenhiem.

Emily Stern as Echo and Lucas Revolution as Fluhbluhbluh have a quirky charm about them and Nakia Syvonne (Ulinia Swords) has a huge belt of a voice. They and fellow cast members Christopher Fairbanks (Max), Alicyn Packard and Jennifer Fenten (Echo’s best friends Jenn and Jen), Rawn Erickson II (Swayze), Scott Palmason (Posse and Mr. Swordo), and Jonas Oppenheim (Lorenzo and General Jim) do their best to entertain. The band (Ericksen on keys and accordion, John Hanson on guitar, Duncan Mackay on drums, and P?J! Wyderka on bass) are a good musicians, and Oppenheim’s songs feature some pleasant melodies.  Arianna Pistilli’s costumes are funny and imaginative.  And that’s about it.

I wish there were more positives I could say about Earth Sucks.  I’m all for crazy sci fi musicals. I loved It Came From Beyond and the NC17 Invasion The Musical had me from its first dirty word.  If only Earth Sucks had a bit of their cleverness and intelligence.

Art/Works Theatre, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood.

–Steven Stanley
October 5, 2008
Photos: Emika Honda

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