By: Paulanne Simmons
January 28, 2019: Now in its 31st year, Forbidden Broadway is again making gentle (and not so gentle) fun of our favorite (and not so favorite) Broadway shows, past and present. This season’s Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation! has transferred to The York, where it is getting big laughs from seasoned musical theater lovers. This edition, written and created by Gerard Alessandrini, features Chris Collins-Pisano, Immanuel Houston, Aline Mayagoitia, Jenny Lee Stern, Joshua Turchin, and Fred Barton on the piano, presenting their versions of past and present hits, as well as a few flops.
The best part of Forbidden Broadway satires is Alessandrini’s ability to point out exactly what was nagging at us about a show, even as we rose to our feet during the obligatory standing ovation. Isn’t Evan Hansen, as played by Turchin, complete with cast and booming voice, a little over-the-top? Didn’t The Ferryman seem to go on and on and on, especially with all those ancient Irish tales of The Troubles?
Forbidden Broadway has a very funny “tribute” to Broadway flops called “The Place Where Lost Shows Go” and an equally funny salute to aging divas (Bette Midler, Jennifer Holliday, Bernadette Peters) called “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This.”
Pisano and Stern team up for a sexy Fosse number that reveals Bob Fosse’s complicated relationship with his wife and muse, Gwen Verdon. And Houston captures Andre De Shields’ style and star magic in “Forbidden Hadestown,” even as he becomes a tour guide for a family anxious to see everyone’s favorite Broadway hit.
But the show’s highlight is a piece called “Woke-lahoma!” which according to Alessandrini “crucified Agnes de Mille.” It also presented “poor Jud” as gay and ended in a blood bath that would have shocked poor Oscar Hammerstein. But it was woke!
Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation! ends with Harold Prince as the Starkeeper (a nod to Carousel) and the ensemble singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” which, by the way, is so gorgeous it’s pretty much spoof-proof.
Fortunately, there’s always much to make fun of. So, here’s to the SNL of live theater – Forbidden Broadway!
Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation! Runs through Feb. 9 at The York Theatre, 619 Lexington Ave. (enter on 54 Street). Photography: Carol Rosegg