A SHOW THAT DESERVES AN EXCLAMATION POINT!
Broadway’s recent bumper crop of musicals has provided spoof-meister Gerard Alessandrini a mother load to mine in the latest installment of his well-established, venomous valentines to the Great White Way, Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging!
Performed by a four member cast of actor-chameleons (Carter Calvert, Mia Gentile, Marcus Stevens and, on the night this reviewer attended, the daffy and dashing Taylor Crousore covering for Scott Richard Foster) this season’s theatrical forays are delightfully drawn-and-quartered to hilarious results. Wearing costumes and wigs that appear to have been pulled from a Dollar Store’s bargain basement, this small but mighty ensemble (accompanied by their gifted musical director, David Caldwell) make ground-round of Broadway’s sacred cows.
Highlights include swipes at all the recent movies turned wannabe musicals. Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway has the kvetching creator (Stevens) stammering an angst-y “Let’s Misdirect” to the tune of “Let’s Misbehave” and “Yes, we have no composers” to “Yes, we have no bananas,” a nod to this retro jukebox tuner’s scavenging of popular 1920’s songs in lieu of writing a pesky original score. Rocky gets a punch to the jaw when Stallone (Crousore) becomes the anti-Henry Higgins by giving his legit musical’s star (Stevens as Andy Karl) a lesson in classic Goombah-Italian mumbling to an unintelligible, funny end. Naturally, Disney’s effects-heavy Aladdin, complete with flying carpet, gets the rug pulled out from under it.
But the deadliest (and most humorous) blow is dealt to The Bridges of Madison County’s notoriously conceited and self-aggrandizing composer, Jason Robert Brown (Stevens), whose emotionally facile score is summarized by the two cheating leads announcing “Adultery is only for ugly people!” before they burst into “We just have one sex scene,” sung to one of Bridges’ many lush lugubrious ballads (Bridges just closed on 5/18/14).
Celebrating Broadway’s long history of creating (and discarding) child stars, a trio of Enfants Terribles, Annie (Gentile), Billy Elliot (Crousore), and Matilda (Carter) screech, “We are exploited children!” to Matilda’s “We are revolting children…” In either case, both statements couldn’t be truer.
Swift swipes are directed at theater’s Hollywood invasion: We got Fran Drescher (Calvert) as a nasally whining evil step mom in Cinderella; Neil Patrick Harris’ wig-heavy performance in Hedwig; and South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who get raked over the coals for raking in the dough by lampooning religion (Book of Mormon) while simultaneously bowing to their own false god: money! The perennials Les Misérables, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia!, Cabaret, and Once (“the musical that’s so unpretentious, it’s pretentious”) all get the once-over, earning big laughs. Mandy, Liza and even Carrie “Underwhelm” from NBC’s Sound of Music Live! also make for fast and fun fodder. However, the revue’s highlight is Mia Gentile as Adelle Dazime as Idina Menzel trumpeting her vocal chords in “Let ‘em blow,” in mocking tribute to Frozen’s “Let it Blow.” She ends her ear-shattering rendition with, “My nodes never bothered me anyway.”
Alessandrini cleverly closes the night of silly skewering with an important warning to all theater lovers: After the full cast appears suited and carrying business cases labeled Chase, American Airlines, Chrysler, and Disney, they break into a haunting parody of Cabaret’s Nazi anthem, “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” implying that perhaps all these costly creative missteps and miscastings are a result of a large corporate mentality taking over what is fundamentally the ancient and intimate art of storytelling.
Mr. Alessandrini’s well-constructed parodies stealthily present many rich allegories in Forbidden Broadway: Comes Out Swinging! – tales of projects (and egos) gone awry. We’re thankful that a supremely clever satirist of his caliber keeps fighting the good fight. This show is a knock-out!
Forbidden Broadway: Comes Out Swinging!
Davenport Theatre, 354 West 45th St.
(between 8th & 9th Ave)
Mon-Tues @ 7pm; Fri-Sat @ 8pm; Sun @ 7pm;
matinees Wed & Sat @ 2pm and Sun @ 3pm
ends on July 20, 2014
for tickets, call 212.239.6200
or visit Telecharge
for more info, visit Forbidden Broadway