Review Roundup: See What Critics Thought of FORBIDDEN BROADWAY: THE NEXT GENERATION
Spoofs include Hadestown, Moulin Rouge, this season's Oklahoma! revival, The Ferryman, Tootsie, Beetlejuice, Frozen, the Yiddish Fiddler on the Roof,, Dear Evan Hansen, and the new generation of Broadway stars including Billy Porter, Santino Fontana, Karen Olivio, Alex Brightman and exciting turns by Bette Midler, Andre De Shields, Bernadette Peters, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and several surprises.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Ben Brantley, New York Times: Going to a "Forbidden Broadway" is for me like sitting down and schmoozing with a friend who shares an obsession. And true obsessives can't embrace Broadway without dancing with its ghosts a bit. The recent "Fosse/Verdon" television series gives Alessandrini the peg to riff (delightfully, I thought) on our enduring fascination with a mythic Broadway past, when stars' talents were often matched by their self-destructiveness.
Jesse Green, New York Times: "Woke-lahoma!" - "There's a bright glaring light on the bleachers/There's an ugly green light on my features" - is the show's highlight. It has all the elements of the best "Forbidden Broadway" sketches: delicious mimicry, a pungent theme (in this case, politically correct revivals) and well-crafted lyrics that are also on point.
Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld: As usual, Alessandrini, keeps an optimistic view of Broadway's future. Thirty-five years ago he and his cohorts were the emerging future of Broadway, impishly ribbing the establishment. This time around, his material reflects the attitude of a senior member of the Broadway community recognizing that there's a younger generation changing American theatre to reflect their experiences. He observes them with admiration, while lovingly sneaking a satirical dart or two in their behinds.
Raven Snook, TimeOut: Alessandrini's mordant wit is less in evidence as he struggles to find what's funny about some other shows; his takes on Tootsie, The Prom and Harry Potter miss the mark widely. And while Stern and the sparkling Aline Mayagoitia are crack impressionists who can sell the slighter material, the male performers (Immanuel Houston, Chris Collins-Pisano and child actor Joshua Turchin) are stronger as singers than as comic impersonators. Despite its unevenness, though, Forbidden Broadway remains required skewering for theater fans. There may be more smiles than all-out laughs, but there are at least enough guffaws to make you spit out your two-drink minimum.
Roma Torre, NY1: In addition to Gerard's genius for writing and directing, he's supremely skilled at casting. His incredibly versatile company of five immensely gifted performers master the comedy and the singing with effortless grace on that stage. And that does include young Joshua Turchin-a triple threat well beyond his 13 years.
Robert Hofler, The Wrap: Some parodies makes you realize you were dead wrong about a favorite show. "Woke-lahoma!" makes it impossible for anyone to offer another word of defense for the current hit revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. Aline Mayagoitia's somber, repressed and horny Laurey joins the equally glum Collins-Pisano, Houston, Stern and Turchin. And there's also the rare parody that brilliantly mocks death. Stern's Mary Poppins sends up the In Memoriam segment of every awards show with "The Place Where the Lost Shows Go." It's a veritable cavalcade of the walls of Joe Allen restaurant commemorating short-lived productions.
David Finkle, New York Stage Review: Before Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation ends with a bang not a whimper, Alessandrini has a laugh on himself. He slots a jab to the tune of "You'll Never Walk Alone" that goes, "Watch out, watch out, when you spoof a play, or you'll never work again." Nothing doing. The hope has to be that as long as there are musicals-and whatever the next generation brings for better or, spare us, worse-Alessandrini will put himself to work again and again.
Jesse Oxfeld, New York Stage Review: What happens when the spoof is as venerable as the spoofed? The answer, at least on the evidence presented in the new version of Forbidden Broadway, which opened tonight at the Triad Theater on the Upper West Side, is this: Moderate amusement, a few good jokes, a lot of middling ones, and no real reason for existing except that it has always existed.
Photo Credit: Genevieve Rafter-Keddy