NY Theater Review by Susan Hasho
With the promise to “put producers through hell” and “David will bring Goliath down and ev’ry Broadway venture in town” and “we’ll be stinging each star,” Forbidden Broadway opened the show “swinging”—musically and metaphorically. It’s a daunting mission statement and probably guided missiles would be needed to really get the job done; but wit and incredible performances by the five stars (Carter Calvert, Scott Richard Foster, Mia Gentile, Marcus Steven and David Caldwell on piano) killed in a theatrical sense. My god is anything funnier than mocking musicals—well?!
As the opening selection, a montage of Pippin manages to satire the Cirque de Soleil gymnastics, Andrea Martin and the master of ceremonies with so much fun—actors with broom poles and hoola hoops stand in for tricky choreography—that you know this incarnation of Forbidden Broadway is a winner. Highlights abound: Marcus Steven coming onstage portraying an overtly self-reverential Jason Robert Brown followed by Carter Calvert and Scott Richard Foster as the two lovers Francesca and Robert, (“he and I have just one sex scene and a million songs to go…”) in The Bridges of Madison County. The first act ends with Les Miz: where the use of projections is lamented, where the old turn tables that the sets rotated on sing a lamentation because they’re not in use anymore; and Marcus as Javert sings, “One run more then we’ll be finished, then they’ll bury us at sea.”
The second act takes on Once, Carrie Underwood (Carter) in The Sound of Music, Carter as Liza Minnelli in what is a fascinating and cringe-worthy view of longevity. Of course they don’t ignore The Book of Mormon (Marcus as Matt Stone, Scott as Trey Parker) or Bullets Over Broadway (Carter as Susan Stroman, Mia as Show Girl and Marcus as Woody Allen).
What is impressive, above and beyond the talent and the incredible versatility of the actors, is the imaginative use of simple props—for instance, the vacuum cleaner is a show stopper. And never under-estimate a shadow fight on the projector with paper cutouts. We must credit the direction here with insane silliness and innovation. (Directed by Phillip George and Gerard Alessandrini) The actors sing with all the thrilling expertise of the people they’re representing; and Gerard Alessandrini provides them with lyrics and script that teeters on insult but stays on the side of hilarious; and you reach the end of the evening and realize that David Caldwell has been playing the scores of at least 15 shows so well you never noticed that he was on his own.
At The Davenport Theatre 354 West 45th Street Mondays and Tuesdays at 7pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 7:00pm, with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2pm and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $79. Student Rush and Premium Tickets are available. Tickets can be purchased by calling Telecharge at (212) 239-6200 or by visiting www.telecharge.com.
Photos: Carol Rosegg