It has been thirty years since Gerald Alessandrini created the first edition of FORBIDDEN BROADWAY. The 2012 incarnation of this series of spoofs of Broadway shows and stars is top notch. I wondered at first how they could spoof some of the tripe that now passes as a Broadway musical, but they did so brilliantly. The show opens with a parody of Lerner and Loewe's BRIGADOON. This show about a mythical Scots village that comes to life once a century became a figure for the Broadway musical. From then on, everything now or recently on the stage is fair game. Some of the numbers lampoon shows now running from JERSEY BOYS to the dreary ONCE. I found their extended skewering of ONCE particularly funny. As one character sings: "It's so unpretentious that it's pretentious." There are also sendups of some Broadway stars. Stephen Sondheim introduces his favorite diva, Bernadette Peters ("I cast her in all my shows, regardless of whether she's right for the part.") who demonstrates the current sad state of her voice. There's also an hilarious version of Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin's recent Broadway lovefest and of Ricky Martin and Elena Roger in EVITA ("Just a total lack of star quality").
FORBIDDEN BROADWAY depends on good writing. There isn't a weak moment in the ninety minute show. It also depends on talented, versatile performers. The young cast of FORBIDDEN BROADWAY: ALIVE AND KICKING have the musical and comedic skills, versatility, charm and energy the show requires. Kudos to Natalie Charle Ellis, Jenny Lee Stern, Scott Richard Foster and Marcus Stevens. They are also expert quick-change artists. And bravo to the folks who created the hilarious costumes and wigs, Philip Heckman and Bobbie Clifton Zlotnik.
FORBIDDEN BROADWAY: ALIVE AND KICKING. 47th Street Theatre. October 27, 2012.