By Lucy Komisar
This is yet another Forbidden Broadway production in which the numbers are sometimes better than the musicals they satirize. And they are always on target about the shows and the theatrical culture. The performers, Christina Bianco, Jared Bradshaw, Gina Kreiezmar and Michael West, start out by introducing themselves and declaring, “We‘ll do twelve steps the Fosse way!” Here are some of my nutty favorites. Alas, you can‘t really get a sense of it without the music. (Check out the show‘s website for some songs.)
There‘s no quarter given. Michael West as Lin-Manuel Miranda, star of “In the Heights,” importunes: “So turn up the house lights, the public unites, to make shows about Latinos for Whites!” OK, the show is bland, and the big crisis is whether the Stanford coed will give up a boyfriend who never got beyond high school. Of course she will, but is that really the dilemma that first-generation Latinos face? “No fight, no bite, it‘s West Side Story lite!”
Gina Kreiezmar is tr¨s comique as the famous revolutionary knitter. “Je m‘appelle Madame Defarge, ” she declares. “Every year I wait patiently for a good French revolution musical. I wait and I knit, I knit and I wait. Last night I saw ˜Tale of Two Cities.‘ I am still waiting.” And to the tune of “The Best of Times” from “La Cage,” she belts out: “It was the best of times, on second thought it was the worst of times, no it‘s the best worst show, ˜Tale of Two Cities‘ is the best worst show I know.” Michael West intervenes as star James Barvour: “You thought the British op‘ricle was hell. But try to sing this retread Scarlet Pimpernel.
”The parody of “Gypsy” is a broad inside joke. Patti Lupone upstages Boyd
Gains (West). “It‘s great to see you again Patti.” Lupone (Kreiezmar): “Again? I‘m sorry, but do we know each other? Oh, you‘re that funny little man they brought in to say those other words that happen when I‘m not speaking. Then she moves into song: “Funny – you‘re an actor who‘s tasted critical praise so far. Funny — here in Gypsy you‘re wasted, small part isn‘t it…Funny — next to me you just vanish, small part isn‘t it?”Kreiezmar has the perfect Lupone panache and style, especially when her twisted mouth warbles “Everything‘s coming up Patti.”
August Osage Rehab is brilliant a boxing match! The Referee (West) declares, “Now I want an old fashioned method acting Lee Strasbourg cat fight. Stick to the script, no ad libs. Oh and don‘t walk through the invisible walls on our set.”
The character Barbara (Kreiezmar) declares, “Three days ago I had to identify my father‘s corpse. And now the audience has to sit here for three and a half hours while you dredge up some second rate Eugene O‘Neill.”
Violet (Christina Bianco) objects, “What are you talking about? This is all original very original stuff? A drug addict mother.”
Barbara: “Long Day‘s Journey Into Night.
Barbara: “Moon for the Misbegotten.”
Barbara: “Desire Under the Elms.”
Referee: “And that‘s a sardonic upper cut, round one to Barbara.”
Forbidden Broadway goes to Rehab Jared Bradshaw, Spring Awakening, Photo by Carol Rosegg
In the terrific spoof of “Spring Awakening,” Melchoir (Jared Bradshaw) has been reading “Debbie does Deutchland,” which calls forth lots of deep breathing. He and Wendla (Bianco) make love behind a Parental Discretion sign. Jersey Goys are the (Italian) “Jersey Boys” talking about their hits, which these satirists suggest happened in large measure because Frankie Valli raised his voice up more than a couple of octaves. In pink jackets, the Forbidden Broadway warblers advise, “Walk like a man, sing like a girl, you‘ll soar to number one. Falsetto pitch is such a bitch.”So, you get the idea. There are some numbers which don‘t sparkle like the rest, but there are more hits than misses. Which is more than can be said about many seasons on Broadway.
Forbidden Broadway Goes To Rehab. Created by Gerard Alessandrini. Directed by Gerard Alessandrini & Phillip George. Costumes by Alvin Colt & David Moyer. 47th Street Theatre, 304 West 47th Street, NYC. Opened September 17, Closes March 1, 2009. Reviewed by Lucy Komisar September 16, 2008. http://www.forbiddenbroadway.com/.