Forbidden Broadway: a glass of wine and fun
Fun and frivolity come to mind. I have to admit, I really enjoy a good musical. I like the new ones, the oldies and the goldies.
Forbidden Broadway first opened on off-Broadway in 1982. The creator and writer, Gerard Allessandri, in re-writing the lyrics to musical numbers, took stabs at the apparent deterioration of Broadway and how things weren’t the way they used to be on the Great White Way. For 20 years Forbidden Broadway played off-Broadway, continually adding new numbers as new musicals were being produced. Allessandri also released eight albums based on the many songs from the always evolving musical. Fighting Chance Productions has chosen to perform a compilation of tunes from the run of Forbidden Broadway in a selection called the “Best of”, a version which was assembled by Allessandri himself. He is a master of re-writing the lyrics to famous melodies and teasing the hell out of them. Some of the lyrics are hilarious and hit the nail right on the head: Rent is spent; You Can’t Stop the Camp (Hairspray); or Liza (Minnelli) One Note.
Set in cabaret style on the stage at the PAL theatre on Cardero Street, Alessandri’s work is showcased in two forty minute halves. Many of the pieces are funny, well performed and entertaining. The silliness of the actors, purposely exaggerating each number, just required me to let go and enjoy it for what it was. So I had a glass of wine, sat back and had some fun participating in the mocking of all my favourite and not so favourite musical numbers. As much as you love them you know they are full of cheesiness, foolishness and always illogicalness– love those words with -ness at the end. How about unreasonableness or flapdoodlness? Yes, all that too.
Cathy Wilmot, one of the five performers (Andrea Bailey, Natalee Fera, Aaron Lau, David Nicks are the other four), sings “Annie” as a smoking, sloppy thirty year old looking for another chance. It was hilarious. As an actress she is a quirky, wild woman who could hold a comedy show all on her own. Her other number “Dolly is a Girl’s Best Friend” was again comically portrayed as a washed out Dolly looking for attention. To me, she really carried the show, her large presence drawing the audience in immediately. The other performer I was particularly fond of was Aaron Lau. I liked him in High School Musical 2 and once again he reveals his abilities in Forbidden Broadway. The others held it together and definitely offered some comical moments. David Nicks singing Phantom and Ethel (in duo with Cathy Wilmot), teased the Ethel Merman style of singing in the 30’s and 40’s versus the style of singing in the 80’s when The Phantom of the Opera first opened.
Strength in the calibre of singing for some of the numbers would have made for stronger performances but hey, overall I had a good time, the cast gave it their all and I enjoyed chortling away with this light, buffoonery of the musical classics.
Forbidden Broadway continues at the PAL Theatre until January 16th. For more information sing and dance your way here.