Forbidden Broadway has relentlessly and lovingly assaulted the Great White Way since 1982, when Gerard Alessandrini, then a struggling singer-actor, created the first edition for himself and his friends to perform. It lampooned the Broadway shows and stars of the day – to put things in perspective that was the year Cats (a top Alessandrini target) opened, and Ethel Merman (who has turned up frequently in the revue over the years) still had two years to live.
After a break between 2009 and now, Forbidden Broadway is back with a vengeance. The show, as always, is wickedly clever from early on: A quartet wanders around the theatre district, stumbling down the aisle, saying “isn’t this the theatre where Forbidden Broadway used to play?” and then break into music from Brigadoon – a distant chorus chanting “Broadway’s on the brink-of-doom, brink-of-doom.”
The revival of Evita is the first proper target, featuring Ricky Martin singing “Living Evita Loca” and Elena Rogers singing of her “total lack of star quality” to the tune of “Buenos Aires”. Next up is Nice Work if You Can Get It, with the sharpest barbs reserved for Matthew Broderick (too easy?). Alessandrini always has an obvious soft spot for certain shows, and this season it’s Newsies, which he mostly dishes for its almost-too-frenetic energy. Some of the harshest barbs go to Once, though there’s some affectionate spoofing of Steven Hoggett’s angular choreography.
Act Two has Julie Taymor and Bono engaging a superhero battle, the gals from Smash fretting over the future of their series, a sharp critique of Tracie Bennett from Judy Garland herself and a Mormon parody which is mostly about Parker and Stone counting their money. The finale, as often is the case for Forbidden Broadway, is a love note to the future of musical theater. Alessandrini seems to see plenty of hope (which he didn’t in 1982), and that’s a very good sign.
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For more reviews and interviews by Jonathan Warman, see dramaqueennyc.com.