Nothing's sacred in 'Forbidden Broadway'
Randall Theatre’s production of “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits” may very well fit the bill for lovers of musical theater and satire.
In this spoof of more than 20 classic and contemporary Broadway shows, iconic songs, characters and actors are “turned upside down and inside out,” says director Kathy Wing.
Imagine Carol Channing’s best moments in “Hello Dolly” lampooned, or tragic, tender scenes from “Les Miserables” parodied, and you get the picture.
The melodies will be familiar and immediately recognizable, but the lyrics won’t be, Wing says.
“What I Did for Love” from “A Chorus Line,” for instance, becomes “What I Did for Laughs.”
“It’s a side-splitting, laugh-out-loud poke at what makes Broadway what it is,” Wing adds.
The show opens Friday, Sept. 7, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 23, at Randall Theatre, 10 E. Third St., Medford. Curtain is at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 7-8, Thursdays through Saturdays, Sept. 13-15 and 20-22, and 2 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 9, 16 and 23.
Tickets are $22, $17 on Thursdays, and can be purchased at randalltheatre.com or by calling 541-632-3258. Pay-what-you-want tickets are available 30 minutes before shows, subject to availability.
Randall’s intimate black box theater is the backdrop for the cabaret-style show, which Wing describes as high energy and fast-paced.
The five-person cast features Brandt Nakamura, Myranda Agueros, Austin Kelly, Alissa Larson and Ella Nelson-Mahon. Each actor plays several different characters along with show-stopping performers such as Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand and Bob Fosse, to name a few.
“No one is spared,” Wing says.
And, there are no apologies.
“If imitation is a sincere form of flattery, parody has got to be pretty darn close to it,” she adds.
Stitching together the funniest and most well-known moments from much-loved shows such as “Fiddler on the Roof,” “A Chorus Line,” “Annie,” “Les Mis,” “Wicked,” “Chicago,” “Cats,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Monty Python’s Spamalot” and “Rent” in seamless fashion requires several quick costume changes, Wing says.
“Basically, the actors are running around like chickens with their heads cut off,” she says.
There is no turntable on the stage, but there is what Wing calls “a turntable effect” as the shows within a show move from one song, one scene to another without pause.
Under Wing’s direction, the cast has been given permission to have fun on stage.
The show, she says, is a legitimate way to be silly, which we are anyway, during long, late-night rehearsals.
Gerard Alessandrini conceived, wrote and directed the debut of the off-Broadway revue in 1982. “Forbidden Broadway” is a three-time winner of the prestigious Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revue. The show, in its various editions, has been performed more than 9,000 times in more than 200 U.S. cities and in London, Tokyo, Singapore and Sydney.
Alessandrini has rewritten the show more than a dozen times over the years to include parodies of current Broadway musicals.
There are many versions of the revue with new shows, characters and performers the targets of the playwright’s wit, Wing says.
Rumor has it that many of the parodies are requested by Broadway stars. Channing, it seems, went to Alessandrini and suggested he create a number lampooning her portrayal of Dolly Levi in “Hello Dolly.”
The Channing sequence is one of Wing’s favorites, as is the “Les Miz” medley. She also has fun with the “Wicked” and “Rent” numbers, she says.
It’s ironic that “Spamalot,” itself a parody, also is parodied in the same irreverent manner.
Audiences don’t necessarily need to know the Monty Python spoof of the King Arthur legend, or any of the shows to get the jokes, Wing says.
“But, if they do, it makes it all that much funnier.”
“Defying Subtlety,” a parody of “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked,” is an apt description of the entire show.
The show is anything but subtle.
“It’s a no-holds-barred spoof of all things Broadway,” Wing says.
“Forbidden Broadway” features musical and choral direction by Paul Cosca, with assistant directing and choreography by Brianna Gowland.