×
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

  • Phoebe Waller-Bridge

    Listen: How Phoebe Waller-Bridge Shocked Herself With 'Fleabag'

    Both onstage and onscreen, the title character in “Fleabag” says things that are pretty outrageous — even to Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the woman who created her. Listen to this week’s podcast below: Known to television audiences as the creator of Amazon’s “Fleabag” as well as BBC America’s “Killing Eve,” Waller-Bridge is making her New York stage [...]

  • Emilia review

    West End Review: 'Emilia'

    We know next to nothing of the “Dark Lady of the Sonnets” — nothing beyond what Shakespeare tells us in 26 stanzas of overblown verse. Her eyes were nothing like the sun, of course – “raven black,” so he claims – and her lips were either paler than coral, as in Sonnet 130, or else [...]

  • Guys and Dolls

    'Guys and Dolls' Getting Remade at TriStar (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Guys and Dolls,” the venerable Broadway musical, is set to return to the big screen. TriStar Pictures has purchased remake rights to the original Damon Runyon short stories about gamblers and gangsters that inspired the shows, as well as the rights to the Broadway musical with its book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows and [...]

  • Sutton Foster

    Sutton Foster Starring Opposite Hugh Jackman in Broadway's 'The Music Man'

    “The Music Man” has found its Marian, the librarian. Sutton Foster, the two-time Tony Award winner, will star opposite Hugh Jackman in the upcoming revival of “The Music Man.” She will play Marian Paroo, a small-town librarian who is initially immune to Professor Harold Hill’s charms. It’s a role that was previously performed by the [...]

  • 'Black Super Hero Magic Mama' Review

    L.A. Theater Review: 'Black Super Hero Magic Mama'

    What function do superhero stories play in American society? Are they merely escapist distractions for head-in-the-clouds teens, or could those same formats actually serve a practical function, providing useful tools for everyday life? Recognizing these comic book fantasies as by far the dominant form of contemporary mythmaking for a generation of young people, emerging playwright [...]

  • Danielle Brooks'Ain't Too Proud - The

    How 'Orange Is the New Black' Star Danielle Brooks Became a Broadway Producer

    Danielle Brooks earned a Tony nomination when she made her Broadway debut as Sofia in the 2015 revival of “The Color Purple,” but now the “Orange Is the New Black” star is working behind the scenes as a producer on the new jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” “I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content