Kept the Audience Laughing all Night

By Iride Aparicio

Pictures by Carol Rosegg

The Lion, in  THE LION KING
 The Lion, in  THE LION KING

SAN JOSÉ, CA –  The premiere of  “FORBIDDEN BROADWAY” was the best antidote to forget the effects of a freak storm that arrived in the city on that night blowing trees and drenching the roads.  Visibility was poor on the freeways, but not  inside the SAN JOSÉ REP, where all the eyes were concentrating on the theatre on stage, with a silver metallic curtain ane the Broadway's songs  masterfully interpareted at the piano by Director CATHERINE STORNETTA. Also on the stage, GINA KREIEZMAR, KEVIN B. McClYNN, CRAIGH LAURIE, and JEANNE MONTANO were performing their different skits. In the audience, everybody was laughing.

For those people familiar with the so called “Broadway shows,” their plots, their music, their lyrics and their stars, “FORBIDDEN BROADWAY’ playing at the REP until March 2nd,  is the place to go because this is a  “Musical of Musicals” (literarily speaking). A musical show based on the songs of  different musicals. using the costumes from the original shows and the same tunes, but with the lyrics of the songs changed. The result is comedy as its best: clean and very funny.   

The Enssemble cast from the show WICKED
                      The Ensemble cast from the show WICKED

FORBIDDEN BROADWAY was created and Written by GERARD ALESSANDRINI, (Born in Boston Massachusetts in l953) a Playwright, producer, actor and theatre director, who after graduating from the Boston Conservatory of Music, moved to New York City where he began working as an actor in summer stock, regional theatres dinner theatres, and off Broadway at the Light Opera in Manhattan. 

In l881, ALESSANDRINE conceived and wrote his musical parody  making spoofs of the Broadway songs he had sang before. He and his friends began performing them at Palsson’s Super Club and in time, their show evolved into “FORBIDDEN BROADWAY” which, he directed and opened at the Palsson, on January 15, l982.

Because the show is made up of shor skits and every one of the four actors in FORBIDDEN BROADWAY represents several roles in the skits, wearing different costumes, given them credit for a their particular role in the skits is not possible, but CULTURAL WORLD BILINGUAL will mentioned the roles that made an impression to us on Opening night either because they were funny or because the singing or the acting was superb.

One of the most creative skits was the one from  Les Miz with  two actors representing Jean  Baljean, and Fantine, singing “one more time” as they walk around in circles on the stage, representing to be standing on the revolving platform used on the staging of the original show.  Funny from the same show, was a representation of Producer CAMERON MCKINTOSH, covered in a black cape, singing to the audience that he was the Emperor of Broadway to the music of “My favorite Things’ (from the Sound of Music) as he opened his cape-like coat, to show us his "souvenirs:” a T-shirt from Le Miz,  CD’s from the cast oof the same show, books, cups and many oather things singing that his $l00 dollars tickets for the show and  “these things” they sold as “souvenirs” were his favorite things because they helped him become a millionaire.

All the skits were funny, but in some, the humor was not understood by many in the audience.  One of those, was the skit representing  The LION KING” where the actors, representing the "animals" are wearing neck braces around their necks.

 If we listen to the lyrics of  their song, the lyrics express their hatred for  JULIE TAYMOR (The show’s director and the woman who  created all  the wild animals’ “puppets” the audience sees in the show) The humor in the spoof lyrics is based on something real. According to the singers who worked in the show in Broadway and carried the "puppets" representing the animals on their heads during the performance, their necks really got hurt, because  Taymor’s puppets (representing the different African animals) were beautiful to look at, but so heavy. that carrying them while they danced, hurt their backs and necks.

This actress represents her pain caused by carrying the heavy mask
This actress represents her pain caused by carrying the heavy mask

As singers and actors, KREIEZMAR, LAURIE, MCGLYNN AND  MONTANO, the San Jose's actor from the show, were excellent, but there were some, in some skits that  attracted our attentionn either for the quality of her performance of for her voice, among them for his voice, The man representing Phantom. For her mimic, the woman who represented “Mrs. Lloyd Webber, who was fantastic in her facial expressions. Aslso for his voice, the man who sang the part of Jean Valjean, the women who sang and even acted like LIZA MINELLI  and the woman who represented  ETHEL MERMAN at the end.

While most skits were good, some skits, were silly. One of them the skit representing AVENUE Q,  the other one the one of man playing a flat guitar and a woman simulating to play the piano on a cardboard box.

There were also important yet unsung heroes, in the show among them: costume designer ALVIN COLT,  wig designer CAROL SHERRY,  choreographer PHILLIP GEORGE and stage manager CATHERINE BLOCH. And we need to mention, if not by name, the dressers, behind the stage. who helped the actors change their costumes at the speed of light, so that the show moved smoothly all night. They deserve a big hand.

FORBIDDEN BROADWAY is recipient of TONY HONORS for Excellence in Theatre, an Obie Award, four Drama Desk Awards, including the one for Outstanding Lyrics and the other for Drama Desk Special Awards. It also has an Outer Critic Circle Award, Two Lucille Lortel Awards, and the Drama League Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musica Theatre.

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