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A CurtainUp Review
Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging
Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging is the title of the latest edition and they are not kidding. Four of the most talented performers in town — Carter Calvert, Scott Richard Foster, Mia Gentile and Marcus Stevens — are an astonishing ensemble: good-looking, versatile and remarkably chameleon.
Under the brisk direction of Phillip George and enhanced by a collection of eye-opening, even jaw-dropping wigs and costumes, the quartet,are taking well-targeted pot shots as well as landing enough hard punches below the midsection to the current crop of musicals to give pause to Rocky. Musical director David Caldwell gives splendid instrumental support at the piano.
That musical muscle-head (Marcus as Andy Karl) thinks he can hold his own with Sylvester Stallone (Scott) as they battle for the title of who is more unintelligible. The real prize for most unintelligible of the season, however, goes incontestably to Matilda (Carter) among a coterie of other "exploited" child performers who are succinctly put down by bosom-heavy head mistress/director Matthew Warchus Trunchbull (Marcus) as so much "vermin. . . with Equity Cards."
Pippin takes a ribbing with a Patina Miller who insists "No one shakes their booty faster than me," and an Andrea Martin who can't quite make it through a hoop. Another ready-made target is Cinderella with Carter as an acutely nasal and tone deaf Fran Drescher ("I love singing Rodgers and Hammerstein songs. They are indestructible even when I sing them"). For Bridges of Madison County Calvert as Francesca tells us how little there is for her to do on the farm except "feed the chickens and work on my Italian accent." Do we not get the joke when a certain Frozen star with the piercing "voice that reinvented sound" is introduced as Estelle Edeema, or by a ballet danced by discarded turntables that were once known as a component in Les Miz
Among my favorite moments, however, was the reminder that "once was enough" to listen to the two notes in Once , and the one-time live broadcast of The Sound of Music starring a country western singer without a clue. Other highlights include a "super-frantic-hyperactive-self-indulgent" Mandy Patinkin who squeezes the life out of a simple Jewish folk song; the inevitable fight to the death between Susan Stroman and Woody Allen; and a relentless Liza with a "So What, Who Care's attitude toward Michelle Williams, Cabaret's current Sally Bowles.
Of course, Cyndi and Harvey deliver an amusingly snarky swipe at Hedwig before the finale. But who cares, so what, it's all been so swell.