After 26 years of brilliant parody and barbed satire, Gerald Alessandrini shelved his long-time hit Forbidden Broadway. Along the way the show won the Drama Desk, Obie and Outer Critics Circle awards. The casts and stars alike made it a point to come on down to see how they were roasted. The show had many editions, several national and international tours and thousands of special performances.
Musical Theatre West, having done its own version of the Greatest Hits a few years back, brought back this audience-friendly show in a show which mixes some old (classics) as well as some new targets from Broadway. It was said that Alessandrini himself was sending in tweaks to the show as it progressed.
In comedy, the audience always determines what works and what doesn’t. The theatre is in Long Beach and has a history of doing Broadway musicals, but the question remained as to whether the audience was hip enough to get all the references. Well, there was no need to worry as the audience ate it up. The new revue even made fun of shows that were in Musical Theatre West’s upcoming season.
The cast was wonderful. On the male side there was the ever-talented David Engel and his partner in foolishness Larry Rabin. Rabin charmed us with his impersonation of Mandy Patinkin, Ricky Martin (Evita Loca) and the one and only Stephen Sondheim. David Engel delighted us with his Phantom, Zsa Zsa from La Cage, and his hilarious impression of Robert Goulet getting his lyrics all messed up singing “Some Enchanted Evening” and “If Ever I would Leave You”. Engel once again displayed some awesome singing like I have never heard him before.
If possible, the two women were even zanier. Veterans of Forbidden Broadway in New York, Susanne Blakeslee and Valerie Fagan rocked the joint. Blakeslee does a spot on Carol Channing and a plausible Julie Andrews and Barbara Streisand. Besides, she is very funny. Fagan gives us Annie, Merman, Sarah Brightman, and Ephaba from Wicked.
The show was a total hit and played at the Carpenter Center on Long Beach until April 29th.