×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Off Broadway Review: ‘Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging!’

Irreverent, shameless and pointed, the latest edition of 'Forbidden Broadway' skewers everyone from Neil Patrick Harris to Michelle Williams to Idina Mezel.

With:
Carter Calvert, Mia Gentile, Scott Richard Foster, Marcus Stevens, David Caldwell.

Anybody who got through this Broadway theater season alive deserves to see “Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging!” — the latest edition of the irreverent satirical revue that has no scruples and knows no shame. Forget the Tony nominations. Gerard Alessandrini and his clever cohorts have come up with winners in their own special categories of Most Pretentious, Most Ridiculous, Most Expensive, Most Cynical, Most Derivative, and, in their inspired salute to the show they call “More Miserable,” (The World’s) Most Miserable Musical.  

Making a showy entrance in boxing gloves, the amazingly versatile cast of four, under the pitiless direction of Phillip George and Alessandrini, announce their intention of taking a roundhouse swing at all the big shows that opened this season, from “Aladdin” to “Rocky,” while saving a few punches for past favorites like “Pippin” and “The Book of Morons.”

Alessandrini isn’t above singling out individual performers for roasting. Marcus Stevens has mastered every one of “Super-Frantic-Hyperactive-Self-Indulgent” Mandy Patinkin’s grandiose gestures and breath-defying vocal mannerisms in “Hava Nagila.”  Mia Gentile assumes the combative pose of a Wagnerian Rhine Maiden to stick it to Idina Mendel (“I am the Queen at last / Streisand is in the past”) in “Let It Blow.”  And an unkindly bewigged Carter Calvert makes mincemeat of country singer Carrie Underwood’s thickly accented governess in “The Sound of Music.”

As expected, Michelle Williams’s Sally Bowles (Gentile) gets her knocks in the parody of “Cabaret.” But the return of Liza Minnelli (a terrific Calvert) in the role of Frau Schneider is both totally unexpected and totally wonderful.

And then there are the one-liners that draw blood throughout the show.

“Creepy, it’s getting creepy,” a perky Theresa Brewer (Gentile) sings in a Juke Box Medley about the “house of wax” that Broadway has become in its calculated courting of the tourist dollar.

“Yes, we have no composers! Composers just get in the way,” sing Woody Allen (Marcus Stevens) and Susan Stroman (Carter Calvert) of their original-score-free musical, “Bullets Over Broadway.”

“I got damage to do / Just for you,” pipes up pumped-up Patina Miller (Gentile), in “Pippin.”  “I got vocal parts / To rephrase / I got songs to perform / All lukewarm.”

But the most inventive numbers are carefully constructed set pieces like the cutting send-up of “The Bridges of Madison County.”  This extended scene is introduced by a leering Marcus Stevens as self-infatuated Jason Robert Brown (“whatever I do is genius”), celebrating his fourth musical about adultery.  Kelli O’Hara’s sex-starved Francesca (Calvert) struggles to tear off her clothes while hanging onto her slippery Italian accent and frantically grabbing at Steven Pasquale’s piping-hot Robert (Scott Richard Foster).  “You and I get one quick sex scene,” Francesca wails, as the lovers roll around and around and around the stage, “and a million songs to sing.”

There is always a point to the satire, which is why we always come back for more.  “Rocky” is about the triumph of technology over song, content, and sense.  “Aladdin” is about the endless flow of cash from the Disney cornucopia. “Book of Mormon” is about the cynicism of vulgar schoolboy humor.  “Cabaret” is about the impossibility of making money on any show but a tried-and-true revival.  And the chilling final number, “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” is a view of Broadway caught in the act of selling its soul.

Off Broadway Review: 'Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging!'

Davenport Theater; 99 seats; $79 top. Opened May 4, 2014. Reviewed May 3. Running time: ONE HOUR, 45 MIN.

Production: A John Freedson, Harriet Yellin, and Paul Bartz, in association with Paul G. Rice, Jamie deRoy, Carol Ostrow / Paxton Quigley, Robert Driemeyer, Lawrence Poster, Tweiss Productions and Gerard Alessandrini production of a musical in two acts created and written by Gerard Alessandrini, with additional dialogue by Phillip George.

Creative: Directed by Phillip George and Gerard Alessandrini. Set, Megan K. Halpern; costumes, Dustin Cross & Philip Heckman; lighting, Mark T. Simpson; sound, Matt Kraus; music director, David Caldwell; production stage manager, Brian Westmoreland.

Cast: Carter Calvert, Mia Gentile, Scott Richard Foster, Marcus Stevens, David Caldwell.

More Legit

  • Williamstown Theater Festival 2016 season

    Marisa Tomei Starring in Broadway Revival of 'The Rose Tattoo'

    Marisa Tomei will star in the Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’ “The Rose Tattoo.” The Oscar-winning actress will play Serafina, a part previously performed by the likes of Maureen Stapleton and Anna Magnani. It’s also a role that Tomei is familiar with, having starred in a Williamstown Theatre Festival production in 2016. “The Rose Tattoo” [...]

  • White Pearl review

    London Theater Review: 'White Pearl'

    Playwright Anchuli Felicia King dismantles the Asian market in this misfiring satire at London’s Royal Court Theatre. “White Pearl” makes a case that those seeking to make inroads into the Far East, perceiving a new El Dorado, are no better that colonial conquistadors of an earlier age — and entirely unequipped to understand the specifics [...]

  • Signature Theatre Celebrates Millionth Subsidized Ticket

    Signature Theatre Offers $35 Subsidized Tickets, Celebrates Millionth Sold

    Just the other night, a Manhattan cab driver told Signature Theatre executive director Harold Wolpert that he couldn’t afford to take his girlfriend to a show. In response, Wolpert motioned to his theater, saying that they offer $35 subsidized tickets. The driver said he’d try it out. “It was a great moment,” Wolpert said. “We’re [...]

  • SOCRATES The Public Theater

    Tim Blake Nelson Waxes Philosophical on Writing a Play About Socrates

    Despite Tim Blake Nelson’s knack for playing folksy characters in films such as “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” in his soul lurks the heart of a classicist. Nelson, who stars in HBO’s “Watchmen” series this fall, has also penned the play “Socrates,” now running at New York’s Public Theater through June 2. Doug Hughes directs, [...]

  • TodayTix - Brian Fenty

    TodayTix Banks $73 Million to Boost Theater and Arts Ticketing App

    TodayTix, a Broadway-born mobile ticketing start-up, is looking to expand into a bigger global media and transaction enterprise with a capital infusion of $73 million led by private-equity firm Great Hill Partners. The investment brings TodayTix’s total capital raised to over $100 million, according to CEO and co-founder Brian Fenty. Part of the new funding [...]

  • Ethan Hawke, Bobby Cannavale and Griffin

    BAM Gala Marks Leadership Change, Celebrates Brooklyn as 'Cultural Center of New York'

    Wednesday’s annual gala celebrating the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) served as a poignant moment of transition for the New York stalwart of contemporary performance. As long-time artistic director Joe Melillo, who along with Harvey Lichtenstein transformed BAM into a vanguard of progressive art, prepares to pass the torch to new leadership, gathered patrons and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content