In January 1982, a struggling performer by the name of Gerard Alessandrini decided to rally a few of his close friends to mount a cabaret show. It ran for two nights on West 72nd Street’s at the now closed Palsson’s Supper Club. Soon, it became the toast of the town and has reinvented itself over the past 32 years, mocking and making parody of the Great White Way.
Its latest installment, Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging is keeping audiences rolling in the aisles with laughter at midtown’s Davenport Theatre. The super talented cast of Carter Calvert, Scott Richard Foster, Mia Gentile, and Marcus Stevens work their way hysterically through Broadway’s lastest offerings including Pippin, Matilda, Rocky, Bullets Over Broadway, and to quote Foster as Alan Cumming, “the revival of the revival of the revival of Cabaret! ” Each of the four cast members blast their victims with equal parts hyperbole and accuracy and the humor is dispensed all in good fun. A nod to the rebooted Les Miserables is particularly hilarious as Foster and Stevens confront each other, starring as Jean Valjean and Javert. Both Frenchmen duke it out, all the while getting upstaged by a croissant. Trust me. You’ll never consider scenic design in the same way again. Gentile’s riff on Idina Menzel’s lack of subtle technique is comic heaven, but make no mistake- behind the lampoon shines an impressive vocal range. Calvert turns Bridges of Madison County’s leading lady Francesca on her ear with an obviously feigned Italian accent. When asked if she lives alone, she replies, “Goodness No! I live here with my two children and Sutton Foster’s brother, what’s-his- name.”
This is just a small sampling of the lunacy that exists within this latest version of an extremely funny franchise. The fresh and witty offering is conducted and played by David Caldwell, who makes the piano sound like a full orchestra. Worried that you’ve not seen all the shows they’re spoofing? Fear not. You’ll still laugh out loud and have a wonderful time. Although the humor is more easily understood by adults, it is still suitable for family viewing-at half the cost than some other overly commercial fare.
Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging is now playing off Broadway at the Davenport Theatre, 354 W. 45th street between 8th and 9th avenue. Tickets available online at www.telecharge.com, by phone at 212-239-6200, or in person two hours prior to curtain at the box office.