Gerard Alessandrini’s 37 year-old franchise is something like the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree: not as big, bright, or cheery as recalled, but still welcome. Who else would fearlessly, gleefully satirize theater? We open with a cliché tourist family singing “God, I Want to See It!” (Music- Chorus Line.) Where’s the mention of costume-attired aggressors in Times Square? Where’s a verse (or a song) on the ridiculously escalated price of tickets?
Some of this iteration is a snooze – Harry Potter’s “Magic for Two” to the tune of Pippin’s “Magic To Do”; Evan Has-Been (Evan Hansen) which dully praises overacting; Danny Burstein in “Swinging on A Chandelier” (Moulin Rouge). Tootsie’s appearance, a mere sight gag, rhymes no toe-tapper with twenty million down the crapper. “Diamonds Up My Wazoo” (Moulin Rude as opposed to Moulin Rouge) is vulgar as opposed to gleefully bitchy (a game Aline Mayagoitia who also shows up in Frozen).
Spot-on segments include, in part, “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This!” (music- Sweet Charity), with ersatz Bette Midler (Jenny Lee Stern), Jennifer Holliday (Immanuel Houston), and Bernadette Peters (Mayagoitia); Judy Garland (Stern) Zellweger Smells in My Part (Zing Went the Strings of My Heart); and a Fosse/Verdon medley that makes up for specifics – where’s womanizing? drugs? – with fun, well executed choreography. (Stern and Chris Collins-Pisano). Collins-Pisano is also a terrific Beetlejuice – loud, gravelly, crass, uninhibited.
Fiddler’s “Translation!” (instead of “Tradition!”) is a hoot as is “Brush Up Your Yiddish!” (“Brush Up Your Shakespeare”) with Collins-Pisano and Houston. Jeremy Pope in Ain’t Too Proud misses an opportunity to distinguish the artist’s two shows with their very different choreography – where’s the stomping? (Houston). Lin-Manuel Miranda and Billy Porter (Collins-Pisano and Houston) make an incisive point about going overboard with inclusivity. Wokelahoma is a one trick pony, plus a bloody sight gag.
Gerry McIntyre’s Choreography works wonderfully. Energy is high. Only very young Joshua Turchin seems unable to hold his own.
Costumes are two-thirds swell and one-third tacky (bad tacky not good tacky). Women’s body suits are all wrong.
If you haven’t seen most of these shows, this will make much less sense to you. If you have however, I can tell you the audience had a good time.
Photos by Carol Rosegg
Opening: Immanuel Houston (standing), Aline Mayagoitia, Jenny Lee Stern, Joshua Turchin and Chris Collins-Pisano
Forbidden Broadway-The Next Generation
Created, Written and Directed by Gerard Alessandrini
Choreography- Gerry McIntyre
158 West 72nd Street