By Sarah Downs
Forbidden Broadway, The Next Generation is 80 minutes of pure delight. I cannot believe I had never gone to any of the various previous incarnations of Forbidden Broadway, all written by master parodist Gerard Alessandrini, until last Friday. Now I know what all the fuss is about.
With a snappy opening, to the tune of “God I Hope I Get It” from A Chorus Line, the five dynamite singers of Forbidden Broadway, The Next Generation kick off a wild ride through a juicy array of Broadway targets. It’s a veritable game of ‘Broadway Show Roulette:’ “Tootsie is so Old School, Frozen is so un-cool, Fiddler is like a Shul!”
Chris Collins-Pisano, Aline Mayagoitia, Jenny Lee Stern, Immanual Houston, and Joshua Turchin are amazing. They are excellent singers, with range and versatility, but most importantly, they possess the confidence that makes parody work, morphing easily and enthusiastically from one role into the next. Whether it’s Billy Porter in a fabulous red gown or Gwen Verdon in fishnets, or the cast of Wokelahoma — oops, I mean Oklahoma — the cast keep you guessing. By “guessing” I mean sitting at happy attention, sipping your drink and keeping your eyes peeled.
Beyond the excellent performances, the details give the show enviable polish. Dustin Cross hits all the right notes in his various costumes. When Jenny Lee Stern does a star turn in an hilarious send-up of Renee Zellwegger as Judy Garland, she does so in a perfect vintage Garland pantsuit. Conor Donnelly delivers one fabulous wig after another, from Elsa’s (from Frozen) white blonde braid to Bernadette Peters’ iconic golden ringlets.
Gerry McIntyre‘s spare choreography pulls the act together with a minimum of fuss, to maximum effect. The Triad is a teeny tiny theater with exactly one stage exit, upstage center, unless you include the audience, requiring clear direction to keep onstage traffic from turning into chaos. The actors scoot behind the one flat that comprises the set, only to zip back onstage entirely transformed moments later, with barely a hair out of place.
The musical mashups in Forbidden Broadway are brilliantly irreverent. Alessandrini somehow manages to be deliciously wicked and even quite pointed without drawing blood. I nearly fell off my chair when they launched into a parody of Irish drama. (It’s as if Alessandrini was reading my mind! ) There are so many wonderful moments in this show — so much fun in store. Treat yourself!
Forbidden Broadway, The Next Generation, created, written and directed by Gerard Alessandrini; with Chris Collins-Pisano, Aline Mayagoitia, Jenny Lee Stern, Immamuel Houston, Katheryne Penny, Joshua Turchin. With Fred Barton at the piano; choreographed by Gerry McIntyre, costume design by Dustin Cross, wig design by Conor Donnelly, set and prop design by Glenn Bassett.
At the Triad Theater (158 West 72nd St.) through November 30th. Tickets are $65, with premium seating at $90. Go to forbiddenbroadway.com or call the Triad Box Office at 212-279-4200. Runtime: 80 minutes, no intermission.