BWW Reviews: Society for the Performing Arts' FORBIDDEN BROADWAY Has Plenty of Bite
One of my favorite memories from my last visit to New York City was seeing Forbidden Broadway: ALIVE AND KICKING during previews at the 47th Street Theatre. As a fan of theatre and everything Broadway for a majority of my life, I relished the opportunity to be in attendance for a performance of the cherished Off-Broadway revue that equally skewers everyone and everything on Broadway. Fresh from its first ever engagement in Houston, I'm happy to report that Forbidden Broadway is still alive, well, and kicking with everything it has got.
For the touring production of Forbidden Broadway, Musical Director Catherine Stornetta gifts audiences with a greatest hits rendition of Gerard Alessandrini's humorous material. Performing off and on since 1982, there is a copious amount of Forbidden Broadway material to choose from, and the programming selections for last night's performance were, for the most part, much appreciated by this longtime fan. I was very excited to see newer hits like "Livin' Evita Loca," "Once Is Enough," "Rock of Ages (Nascar Shows)," and "The Book of Morons" included, even if Houston audiences on the whole didn't get all of the jokes. Also, fan favorites like "Mucus of the Night," a shortened version of "Wickeder," "Glosse Fosse," "You Gotta Get A Puppet," and "Beauty's Been Decreased" ensured that audiences had plenty to laugh at. The only entry that seemed weak was the "P.S.Y.C.H.O" segment, where Al Pacino and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are spoofed for their brands of acting.
Scott Richard Foster, who I saw in New York, is hysterical in just about every role he takes on. His impersonation of Steve Kazee in ONCE during "Once Is Enough" is a true highlight of the evening. Craig Laurie is often funny, especially when he goes for broke with over-the-top caricatures like his portrayal of "Rifreaky" in the "Circle of Mice" number. However, I wanted more from his Ricky Martin during "Livin' Evita Loca." Gina Kreiezmar is wacky and comical from beginning to end, and her take on Liza Minnelli absolutely brought the house down. Jeanne Montano elicits many laughs in the performance as well, standing out as Sarah Brightman during "Time I Said, 'Goodbye,'" but her take on Elena Roger in "Livin' Evita Loca" missed the mark.
Where each member of this talented foursome excels is in his or her ability to quickly change character, voice, and vocal style at the drop of a hat. Jumping on and off the stage, they never once show any sign of fatigue. Each and every performance is fresh and full of energy. There is simply no denying that Scott Richard Foster, Craig Laurie, Gina Kreiezmar, and Jeanne Montano are incredibly skillful and versatile performers with indefatigable charisma.
Even with the incredible performances, having first seen Forbidden Broadway at the roughly 192 seat 47th Street Theatre, I instantly missed the intimacy that Off-Broadway houses offer when compared to the 1,100 seat Cullen Theater. Regardless, this national tour of Forbidden Broadway proves that Gerard Alessandini's fangs are still sharp, his wit is still clever, and that everyone enjoys clean, deftly delivered jabs. Lastly, I can only hope that this won't be the last time Houston gets to see Forbidden Broadway on our own turf.
If you missed Forbidden Broadway's one night only engagement, never fear. Society of the Performing Arts still has a season chock full of interesting programming in store for Houston Audiences. Upcoming performances include the Mark Morris Dance Group on Friday, January 31, 2014 at 8:00 p.m., Peking Acrobats on Friday, February 7, 2014 at 7:30 p.m., and SamulNori on Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 8:00 p.m. For information about and tickets to these and other performances please visit http://www.spahouston.org or call (713) 227-4SPA (4772).
Photos courtesy of Society for the Performing Arts.