ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp Review
Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back
By Elyse Sommer
It's been a while since I've seen a funny show where every bid for laughs succeeds--I don't mean chuckles either, but rip-roaring from-the-belly laughter. Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back is such a show. From the moment David Hibbard, a.k.a. Nathan Lane, a.k. a. Pseudolus of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, bounces onto the tiny, glittering stage of the Triad singing "Parody Tonight" to the tune of "Comedy Tonight," the packed house rocked with laughter, interrupted only by applause and shouts of approval.
And rightly so! This is one of the best of Gerald Allessandrini's annual sendups of everything that spells Broadway--the shows, the stars and the backstage maneuverers and maneuverings. The parody parade is deliciously on target, with the awsomely talented company sharpening its dazzling wit on one foil after another. One of the reasons it all works so well is that everyone involved clearly knows and loves show business, thus imbuing even the knife-sharpest digs with the sense of it's all in the family.
To cite just a few more examples of the twenty-eight hit-homers. Bryan Byatt and David Hibbard as Billy and Josh of the recently closed Big neatly sum up the show's failure to live up to its hype with "F A O Schwarz put all their cash in a smash--Instead its in the trash." Christine Pedi is Bernadette Peters singing "So Miscast" about her forthcoming role in Once Upon a Mattress...with a quick-as-lightening switch to Donna English in the King and I still costumed and made up as the dour heroine of her last starring vehicle, Passion.
The whole company takes on Cats as one of Broadway's long-term employers, with an auditioning "cat" singing "I really hate this show, but God I need the dough--I think I've got it, I'll have a job forever."" Not even the shows acclaimed as artistic as well as financial successes are let off the hook. "Tommy Tune/Da Savion Glover" is sung by Bryan Batt as Tommy Tune, to the accompaniment of David Hibbard doing a tap-spoof of Savion Glover. The Pulitzer prize winning Rent> comes under the knife as "Rant."
If I had to pick one favorite number it would probably be "Patti Class" which features the whole cast. Christine Pedi as PattiLuPone/Maria Callas follows the Master Class format to draw blood from those who gave and got parts she wanted. Donna English plays Glenn Close, (Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard,) and Madonna, (the movie, Evita,) and Bryan Byatt Mr. Andrew Lloyd Webber. It all adds up to satire-within-satire.
Some of the backstage, gossipy bits include a number about the Tony awards committee are great fun. More so if you take at least a now-and-then look at some of the theatrical columns. The same can be said for the shows themselves. The more of them you've seen, the more you'll enjoy the show. The audience at the Triad seemed pretty hip to most of the "insider" nuances.
No review of >Forbidden Broadway would be complete without mentioning Alvin Colt's terrific costumes. David Hibbard's cape in the number spoofing Carmeron Mackintosh's way with merchandising sideline products is brilliant, but by no means the only standout. Colt, who's an octegenarian, has an enternally young touch. Since the quick change artistry involves a lot of wigs, Robert Fama's wig designs should also be noted
This show is probably not for people who never go to a show. Everyone else should put it on their "for a fun evening" list.
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.