Review Roundup: FORBIDDEN BROADWAY COMES OUT SWINGING!
The gloves are off! One of the most highly anticipated new shows of the season, Gerard Alessandrini's FORBIDDEN BROADWAY COMES OUT SWINGING! opened last night, May 4th at 7PM at the newly refurbished Davenport Theatre (354 West 45th Street - between 8th and 9th Avenue). This up-to-the-minute new edition includes Alessandrini's takes on Hedwig, Idina Menzel, Rocky, Cabaret, The Bridges of Madison County, Aladdin, Pippin, the turntable-less Les Miz, Motown, The Sound of Music Live!, Bullets Over Broadway, Kinky Boots and Matilda, among others.
The show was on a 10-month hiatus and started performances with Forbidden Broadway: Alive and STILL Kicking on February 22nd of this year. Since that time, Alessandrini and company have been relentlessly readying the brand-new material, as fast as Broadway itself.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld: My only reservation is that, with appearances by Patina Miller, Audra McDonald and Diana Ross, it might have been a good idea to cast an actress of color for this edition. But that's not a slight on the strong ensemble currently assembled, making Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging another crackling good night of high satire and low comedy.
Marilyn Stasio, Variety: Anybody who got through this Broadway theater season alive deserves to see "Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging!" - the latest edition of the irreverent satirical revue that has no scruples and knows no shame. Forget the Tony nominations. Gerard Alessandrini and his clever cohorts have come up with winners in their own special categories of Most Pretentious, Most Ridiculous, Most Expensive, Most Cynical, Most Derivative, and, in their inspired salute to the show they call "More Miserable," (The World's) Most Miserable Musical.
Frank Scheck, New York Post: The hardworking quartet of actors dazzle with their quicksilver changes and endlessly versatile characterizations. But the show's true stars are costume designers Dustin Cross and Philip Heckman and wig designer Bobbie Cliffton Zlotnick, whose outlandish creations score laughs before a single word is spoken.
Matt Windman, amNY: Highlights include a skewering of "The Bridges of Madison County" and its songwriter Jason Robert Brown (who is portrayed as a wildly egotistical showboat), a confrontation between Michelle Williams and Liza Minnelli over their interpretations of Sally Bowles in "Cabaret" and a deconstruction of the television broadcast of "The Sound of Music" with Carrie Underwood ("Carrie Underwhelming").
Jesse Green, Vulture: Is it unsporting to slam a spoof? The many editions of Forbidden Broadwayhave enjoyed a free pass from reviewers for more than 30 years, regardless of quality and consistency. There's something talismanic about the franchise; its satire, like that of Lear's fool, is supposed to be salubrious and thus deserving of special dispensation. But in Lear the fool is smarter than the potentate being teased. In Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging! - newly subtitled in honor of Rocky - not so much.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter: A number of the new sketches hit the bull's eye. And some choice nuggets from past editions make a welcome return, among them the dirgy desecration of Glen Hansard's neo-folk tunes inOnce, and the nailing of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's money machine The Book of Mormon, identifying greenbacks as the one true God worshipped by the South Park creators.
Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: The return this season of "Cabaret" and "Les Miserables" has sparked some of Alessandrini's funniest moments, with Gentile, playing Michelle Williams, singing the title song of "Cabaret," 'What good is sitting/Through something that's new?/New shows don't always pay/So they do 'Cabaret' ol' chum/Let's bring back 'Cabaret.'"
David Finkle, Huffington Post: Yes, tuner lovers everywhere, Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging! hurtles forth in the nick of time to entertain us at the Davenport with its send-ups--this edition, as all editions, stuffed with laughs and insights into the quirks behind shows received in varying degrees of enthusiasm and regret. (Perhaps more regrets than enthusiasm this year?)
Adam Feldman, TimeOut NY: This may be why Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging!, while often funny, elicits more chuckles of agreement than guffaws of cathartic release. Among the more successful new bits are takedowns of Aladdin, Rocky, Bullets Over Broadway and the Carrie Underwood Sound of Music; the Once sequence, a holdover, is still hilarious (though the Book of Mormon one is still weirdly off-target). If no one in the cast pops into the sublime (like past standouts Christine Pedi, Christina Bianco and Jennifer Simard), the four able performers-Carter Calvert, Scott Richard Foster, Mia Gentile and Marcus Stevens-switch with admirable speed among characters and costumes (by Dustin Cross and Philip Heckman). And spotty though this edition may be, true Broadway lovers will not want to miss it. Imitation, here, is the sincerest form of battery.
Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: Not every joke will make sense to every viewer: Gags about "The Bridges of Madison County" composer Jason Robert Brown being an egomaniac, a muscle-bound "Pippin" star Patina Miller, and Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots in "Rocky" require some knowledge of insider gossip.