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Open: 11/05/13- Close: 11/13/13 Forbidden Broadway
Reviewed for TheaterOnline.com By: Brett Epstein

  

After a three year hiatus Gerard Alessandrini’s Forbidden Broadway, a ruthless parody of recent shows to hit the Great White Way, is back at the 47th Street Theatre.  From the trusty moneymakers that have been soaring for years (Wicked, The Lion King) to those that have received mixed to negative reviews yet are hanging in there (Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, Nice Work if You Can Get It) no show or star is safe.  Not even you, Patti LuPone.  Or… epecially you, Patti LuPone.

While other parodies are stringed together by one specific plotline, FB is simply song after song after song after song, each touching upon a different Broadway related occurrence from the last year or so.  These occurrences range from actual Broadway runs (like Sutton Foster or Bernadette Peters’ facial expressions, each spot-on by the hilarious Jenny Lee Stern) to beyond-the-stage appearances (like Catherine Zeta-Jones’ wide-eyed yet catatonic performance at the Tonys, mocked with physical and vocal perfection by Natalie Charle Ellis).

As directed by Phillip George and Mr. Alessandrini, Broadway rolls along smoothly with impeccable timing from an insanely gifted cast that's rock solid with impersonations. Not only does Stern look and sound like Patti LuPone (listen to her pronounce “Mandy Patinkin”; it lasts five seconds and it’s pure gold) but she’s got a beautiful voice that makes you want to lift her up and place her in one of the musicals she’s ridiculing.  Ellis assertively plays the more uptight females, like Zeta-Jones and Marry Poppins.  The men don’t have as many memorable roles (maybe Broadway women are easier targets?) but they stand their own.  Marcus Stevens, in particular, nails Matthew Broderick’s "I'm not really a singer, but I'm reaaaaaal nerdy" shtick.

  

Each performer’s routine is enhanced by a barrage of clever, witty lyrics.  There are examples at every turn, but some of my favorites are Matthew Broderick’s nasally rendition of  “Nice Song if I Could Sing It” and the leads of Once announcing “We’re so unpretentious, now we’re pretentious.”

Segments making fun of Smash, Rock of Ages and Annie are repetitive and perhaps superfluous in an evening filled with so many moments that do hit home.  And audience members who have seen the shows targeted here will get a bigger kick out of certain bits.  Still, Forbidden Broadway is an entertaining, high-energy musical whose creator dares to say onstage what so many theatergoers have no doubt been thinking offstage.

GRADE: A-

Forbidden Broadway CD is now available.

ForbiddenBroadway.com for tickets and info.  Runs through April 28th at the 47th Street Theatre.


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Venue:
47th Street Theatre : 304 W. 47th Street