February 22 - March 10, 2012
|FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, HELLO, DOLLY!, and ANNIE to
LES MISERABLES, CATS and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
and so many more!
composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim explains that with his songs, people are expected to listen carefully and go “Into
the Words” setting up a delicious take-off of the title song from Into the Woods. It’s excellent advice, not only for
any Sondheim song but also for Gerard Alessandrini’s devilishly clever parody lyrics that are showcased in this gut-
bustlingly funny revue.
For 27 years Forbidden Broadway was an off-Broadway fixture offering return visitors a chance to catch spoofs of
Broadway’s latest hits and flops as well as caricatures of some of the great white way’s legendary performers
including Carol Channing and Ethel Merman. Although occasionally pointed, these takeoffs were done with such
genuine affection that no one was offended.
Joe Cascone’s ongoing love-affair with the Broadway musical mirrors Alessandrini’s and both express deep
frustration with Broadway’s current state of affairs. In his program notes, Cascone offers a rant decrying the path
big expensive Broadway shows have taken over the past three decades where spectacular effects rule day and
audiences flock to see stage adaptations of familiar movies (primarily Disney films.) This rant extends to his
caricature of Cameron Mackintosh enthusing over the extra revenue generated by souvenir sales at each show. The
song, set to tune of “My Favorite Things” is perfect example of Alessandrini’s caustic wit, and Cascone makes sure
every joke lands.
All of the performers do very well job in enunciating the densely packed lyrics while wrapped in Sheila Lacasse’s
witty costumes. The segment lampooning Les Miserables that concludes the first half of the program is a work out
for both the costume designer and six performers who deftly portray most of the major characters in an abridgment
of the sprawling musical epic.
For balance, another overblown British pop-opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera provides the
inspiration for Julie Lennick to do a “swell” impersonation of Ethel Merman showing Cascone (playing The Phantom)
how to belt out a song. “In my day we didn’t need microphones,” she bellows. This production doesn’t use piano.
When he is required to leave the keyboards and pre-recorded accompaniment takes over the balance is piano. When
he is required to leave the keyboards and pre-recorded accompaniment takes over the balance is sometimes thrown
off and some lyrics can become more difficult to decipher.
For the most part, however, the performers keep satires sharp and pointed. Susan Sanders brings forth a deliciously
daffy Carol Channing, while Andrea Strayer brings out a hilarious singing waif in the Les Miz sequence and Peter
Loucas generates laughs with a lampoon of Mandy Patinkin’s emotive vocalizing.
You do not have to have seen all of these shows to appreciate the humor in Forbidden Broadway. The numbers are
self-explanatory and the inventive costumes help provide some context. At the reviewed performance, the audience
demanded an extra curtain call and would have happily stayed for more.
|Pictured standing (L to R):