The titular Karen in the new Fringe Festival musical Earth to Karen is a disgraced former astronaut now better known as “the diaper lady” after a psychotic break brought about by jealousy of her ex. She maniacally drove non-stop from Florida to Texas to kidnap her ex’s current crush, wearing a space diaper so she would not have to make any pit stops on the drive. Karen (Dagney Kerr) has been living off her sister Alice (Rebecca Larsen), whose main occupation is collecting alimony and child support payments, for a year when she finally applies for the job of manager at a Subway shop. She bolts when she is told she has to start by making the sandwiches and learns her supervisor Jen (Lauren Van Kurin) hopes to cash in on her notoriety. She does meet a fellow Subway employee, Chet (Matthew Bohrer), who dreams of opening his own Baloney and Pickle sandwich shop. Soon Karen and Chet are waiting for customers of their own.
A review by a local restaurant critic puts the new shop on the map but also reignites “the diaper lady” controversy that Karen has kept secret from Chet so she bolts again. When Alice finds out that Chet is really the Crown Prince of Baloney—he is heir to a meat packing dynasty back east—she sets her marital trap for him. When Karen finds out the truth, will she don a diaper and make another mad cross-country drive to rescue Chet?
Zachary Bernstein has written a laugh-filled plot, some lively C&W infused tunes and some very clever lyrics making Earth to Karen a fun-filled outing. Guy Picot has deftly directed his talented quartet of performers while Bernstein musical directs and plays drums in the three-piece onstage band. The actors all create full-bodied characters and have strong singing voices. The scene stealer, usually in her Subway plastic gloves, is Van Kurin. Her every appearance generates laughs and Sarah M. Kruger’s choreography even gives her a chance to don her tap shoes to good effect. Earth to Karen attains lift off.