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'Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging!' [Review]

by Photo of Paul Hansen

‘Rocky,’ ‘Les Miz’ and ‘Cabaret’ are just some of the Broadway productions hilariously lampooned.

'Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging!' [Review]

Scott Richard Foster (left) and Marcus Stevens (right) in a scene from Gerard Alessandrini's FORBIDDEN BROADWAY COMES OUT SWINGING! Photo by Carol Rosegg.

I will have to admit, I was looking forward to seeing the current version of Forbidden Broadway. I have seen previous incarnations of it in the past and have found the shows consistently funny, entertaining, and often insightful. The latest version, Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging! opened earlier this month and the recent performance I attended did not defeat my expectations for a fun and often hilarious evening.

For those not familiar with it, Forbidden Broadway is a revue which lampoons and parodies current Broadway productions and celebrities. Among the many shows skewered in the current production are Bullets Over Broadway, Rocky, Les Misérables and Kinky Boots. Cabaret is referred to as a “revival of a revival of a revival” and the recent televised performance of The Sound of Music doesn’t escape a few pot shots, either.

Forbidden Broadway is the brainchild of Gerard Alessandrini who has written all eighteen versions of the show since 1982. His lyrics for the show are quite clever, the type of lyrics that you would like to hear again to fully appreciate. Not to be left out of the fun, he has also lampooned the film industry with productions of Forbidden Hollywood.

When the cast members took their bows, I was a little startled to be reminded that there are only four members in the ensemble - Carter Calvert, Scott Richard Foster, Mia Gentile, and Marcus Stevens. It is somewhat amazing that so few cast members can pull off so many parodies of shows and celebrities (including Woody Allen, Mandy Patinkin, Cyndi Lauper, and Michelle Williams, to name but a few). It must be quite a work out to perform in the show but the menagerie of parody goes by seamlessly. Sylvester Stallone (played by Foster) encouraging his Broadway alter ego to be more inarticulate was quite funny and Calvert’s imitation of Liza Minnelli is also a highlight of the evening.

Although it obviously helps to have seen the shows that are parodied to appreciate the satire, there is enough comic energy to keep a theatrical neophyte entertained. After all, at the end of the day, exactly who is not aware of Woody Allen, Minnelli, Stallone, or hasn’t at least seen the film version of The Sound of Music? Parts of the opening number (based on Pippin, which I haven’t seen) I found a bit abstruse with the humor not quite as cleanly executed as in the other sketches. But the production made up for it in steadily increasing energy throughout the evening.

The show also touches on some weightier issues (with humor, of course) - such as the corporatization of the theatre world and artistic choices which are overly safe, calculated and designed to appeal to the widest possible audience. With the Tony Awards approaching, the production acts as something of a madcap recap of the current state of Broadway. Those who enjoy the satirical style of Saturday Night Live will probably particularly appreciate the show.

Forbidden Broadway is playing at The Davenport Theatre located at 354 West 45th St.

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