Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging!

Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging!

The most recent incarnation of Forbidden Broadway is once again a hodgepodge of Broadway spoofs. Conceived by Gerard Alessandrini, Forbidden Broadway has been running Off-Broadway on and off since 1982. It features two men, two women, and piano accompaniment. In no apparent order, the hits (and flops) of the current season are parodied, and other always-popular-topics are sprinkled in as well (such as Annie or Ethel Merman).

I grew up listening to a whole bunch of FB tunes that I had downloaded on Napster as a dorky Broadway-loving teen. I’ve always been obsessed with “Into the Words,” “I Couldn’t Hit the Note,” and the Les Misérables medley. My dad took me to see it for the first time eight years ago or so, and honestly, I couldn’t stand it. This new version I liked more. The performers are charming, and there are several clever spoofs with full-on laugh-out-loud moments. Some of it is really mean though; it actually made me a little uncomfortable at times. The tone shifts from poking fun or teasing the premise of a show to specifically jabbing at an actor’s talent (or lack thereof). It’s one thing to do a funny impression of Patina Miller in Pippin, but to straight up mock Laura Osnes in Cinderella? Not necessary. Or deserved for that matter.

Basically, the production, as I imagine many of them are, is hit or miss. Some of the songs are very funny, but the misses fall very flat. The best material is mostly in Act 1 – highlights including a Jason Robert Brown bit, The Bridges of Madison County parody, and Pippin. Now, it’s one thing for me to laugh, but I’m betting there were several tourists there that night who probably had not seen most of the season. What’s impressive about the show is that everyone finds it amusing, even when they haven’t seen what’s being spoofed. It’s packed with inside jokes, specific references, and impressions of not-so-famous actors from this year’s productions, and people still laugh. So these guys are doing something right. They have a formula, and they’re sticking to it. But while funny, the gimmick does get old over time. Maybe that’s why Act 2 didn’t do much for me. I say, lose the intermission, cut the weaker filler numbers, and go out with a bang instead of a whimper.

Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging!
Created, Written, and Directed by Gerard Alessandrini, Directed by Phillip George
The Davenport Theatre, Closing July 20th
Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg
Pictured: Scott Richard Foster, Marcus Stevens, Mia Gentile, and Carter Calvert

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