BROADWAY RECALL: Forbidden Once Again

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Welcome to BROADWAY RECALL, a bi-monthly column where BroadwayWorld.com's Chief Theatre Critic, Michael Dale, delves into the archives and explores the stories behind the well-known and the not so well-known videos and photographs of Broadway's past. Look for BROADWAY RECALL every other Saturday.

A little over thirty years ago Gerard Alessandrini was just another struggling young musical theatre actor who enjoyed doing what a lot of struggling young musical theatre actors do in between summer stock and dinner theatre gigs; write parody lyrics of famous showtunes.

At first, they were all stashed away in a folder marked “Forbidden Broadway” but when Palsson's Supper Club offered him the opportunity to put them on stage in a full show and Rex Reed wrote a love letter of a review in his column, the show suddenly became a hot ticket and soon being spoofed in Forbidden Broadway became a New York theatre honor on par with having your portrait hanging at Sardi’s.

Back in 2009, Forbidden Broadway Goes to Rehab gave its final performance, leaving a noticeable void in the New York theatre landscape.

Luckily, Forbidden Broadway has returned home this week as Alive and Kicking, but although New York has always been the show’s primary residence and source for inspiration, different versions have appeared in cities all over the country, and as far off as Sydney and Tokyo.  Here are some scenes from the 2010 production at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory.

Cast members who have graced the Forbidden Broadway stage at one time or another include Jason Alexander, Brad Oscar, Nora Mae Lyng, Michael McGrath, Bryan Batt, Barbara Walsh and Ann Morrison, but perhaps the quintessential FB performer is Christine Pedi.  Never having done celebrity impersonations before auditioning for Alessandrini, she took to it quickly, and soon her spoofs of Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Ethel Merman, Carol Channing and nearly every diva on Broadway became a memorable highlight.  Pedi is an outstanding cabaret performer “as herself” but her mimicry repertoire keeps growing beyond the Forbidden Broadway stage as audiences delight in her cleverness.

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Michael Dale After 20-odd years singing, dancing and acting in dinner theatres, summer stocks and the ever-popular audience participation murder mysteries (try improvising with audiences after they?ve had two hours of open bar), Michael Dale segued his theatrical ambitions into playwriting. The buildings which once housed the 5 Off-Off Broadway plays he penned have all been destroyed or turned into a Starbucks, but his name remains the answer to the trivia question, "Who wrote the official play of Babe Ruth's 100th Birthday?" He served as Artistic Director for The Play's The Thing Theatre Company, helping to bring free live theatre to underserved communities, and dabbled a bit in stage managing and in directing cabaret shows before answering the call (it was an email, actually) to become BroadwayWorld.com's first Chief Theatre Critic. While not attending shows Michael can be seen at Citi Field pleading for the Mets to stop imploding. Likes: Strong book musicals and ambitious new works. Dislikes: Unprepared celebrities making their stage acting debuts by starring on Broadway and weak bullpens.


 
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