Monday, May 05, 2014

Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging (Most of the Time)

The last show of the Broadway season has opened, the Tony nominations are out, and there's only one thing left before the season can officially come to a close: Forbidden Broadway has to spoof the latest musicals. The new update of Forbidden Broadway is called Comes Out Swinging. Often this is a fitting subtitle, but there are a few instances of a swing and a miss. (Am I mixing sports metaphors here? I'm not a sports person even though I loved the musical of Rocky.)
Scott Richard Foster (left) as Sylvester Stallone and Marcus Stevens (right) as Andy Karl; Photo credit: Carol Rosegg
Gerard Alessandrini, who created the show in 1981, continues to write the parodies. By far my favorite segment is the one about Jason Robert Brown. Brown, played by Marcus Stevens, is introduced as the president of the Jason Robert Brown fanclub and the song is basically about how in love he is with his own genius (sample lyrics to the tune of "Moving Too Fast" from The Last Five Years: "The generation that I invented/They know my talent is large and vast/I'm ego centric/And self contented"). If you follow him on Twitter, you know this is probably accurate. This is followed by a faithful recreation of the meeting of Francesca (Carter Calvert) and Robert (Scott Richard Foster) in The Bridges of Madison County, complete with digs at Kelli O'Hara's Italian accent. The fourth member of the quartet is Mia Gentile, who channels Indina Menzel in "Let It Blow."

Marcus Stevens; Photo credit: Carol Rosegg
Another highlight is the use of an old school overhead projector to represent the new Les Misérables "sets," which doen't look that far off from the real thing. But not all the choices are as funny. Do we really need more Liza Minnelli and Mandy Patinkin send-ups? Calvert and Stevens are skilled at impressions, but these targets are easy and familiar. And there are missed opportunities, such as when Foster plays Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig, but in a number about how Broadway shows are made on assembly lines, which Hedwig and the Angry Inch can't be accused of. It just seemed like an excuse to get Foster in that costume.

Speaking of the costumes, Dustin Cross and Philip Heckman (full disclosure: I interviewed Heckman about the Forbidden Broadway costumes in 2012) impress with their recreations of Broadway costumes on a small budget. Having just revisited Matilda the night before, I can say that the Trunchbull costume is particularly spot-on.

Since Forbidden Broadway is a representation of the season, it can be forgiven for having its ups and downs. Just like every year on Broadway, you have to take the good with the bad.

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