By William Wolf


All is well with theatergoing now that “Forbidden Broadway” is back again skewering noted shows with hilarious insights. This new version after an absence is a theater buff’s delight. I must, of course, pay tribute to creator and writer Gerard Alessandrini and his co-direction with Phillip George, who has contributed additional dialogue. But I am knocked out by the versatility of the four brilliant performers interpreting the clever material. And while we are at it, let’s hear it for costume designer Philip Heckman and wig designer Bobbie Clifton Zlotnik, who are responsible for the dazzling array of get-ups that help define the show’s targets.

Compliments are due Natalie Charlé Ellis, Jenny Lee Stern, Scott Richard Foster and Marcus Stevens for their fabulous and diverse comic characterizations that absolutely nail their targets, and do so with amazingly quick costume changes. Ellis is great satirizing Audra McDonald in “Porgy and Bess,” and she has her own strong voice for the task. Stern portrays Diane Paulis as she tears out pages from the original in the mocking of her cut version.

Stern is superb taking off on the mannerisms of Bernadette Peters, and also skewering Tracie Bennett’s performance as Judy Garland in a wildly funny bit that suggests the exploitation of Garland for show biz purposes.

Marcus Stevens gives Matthew Broderick a working over as a clumsy singer and dancer in the musical “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” complete with choreography involving him being dragged over crouched chorus dancers. Stevens and Stern team to make a mockery of Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone in the cozy togetherness of their show.

I especially enjoyed Foster's raking Steve Kazee over the coals for “Once,” with the others joining in to ridicule the pretentiousness and emptiness of the over-rated show, Other musicals spoofed include “Into the Woods,” “Anything Goes,” ”Newsies,” “Ghost,” and of course, “The Book of Mormon,” here referred to as “The Book of Moron.” The upcoming revival of old-hat “Annie” is forecast with a number called “Granny” that has Stern in Annie garb poking along with a walker.

Praise goes to David Caldwell for his music direction and the demanding task of keeping the score going at the piano. There are too many uproariously funny elements to recap here. Suggestion: See this new “Forbidden Broadway” for yourself. At the 47th Street Theatre, 304 West 47th Street. Phone: 212-239-6200.


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