The first edition of Forbidden Broadway was presented Off-Broadway in 1982, where it ran for over five years. Since then, there has been seventeen (that is not a misprint!) editions. The question then, is there still life in the show after all these years and incarnations? The answer, based upon the stunning production of Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits as presented at The Uptown Players, a resounding yes!
The premise of Forbidden Broadway is quite simple, yet quite satisfying. Parodies of musicals are presented, with new lyrics (written by Gerald Alessandrini) written to melodies from the shows being attacked. When done properly (as at Uptown), it makes for a fast paced, belly laugh-out-loud, highly entertaining evening.
The cast of eight entertained exceptionally well, both as a team and in their individual moments. Two performers are worthy of special praise. Jim Johnson did an incredible rendition of "It's Too High" ["Bring Him Home"] in the Les Miserables parody. Mr. Johnson demonstrated a vocal range that went higher than The Chrysler Building matched by comedic timing so razor-sharp that it could easily cut diamond. Wendy Welch did a spot on impression of Carol Channing in Hello, Dolly! Miss Welch captured Miss Channing's voice, facial expressions and gestures with the precision one finds in a Rolex. If I were Miss Channing, I'd sue.
But please allow me to tell you about Tyce Green. There should be one in every home. Mr. Green gave us his take of Patti LuPone in Gypsy. I have never seen one performer so adroitly mimic the posture and stance of another. Miss LuPone's off-key vocalizing, exaggerated gestures, and overbearing "rapport" with her audience were all on display to delight us. Mr. Green embodied Miss LuPone (warts and all) so perfectly I'd like to see him release some albums: Tyce Green as Patti LuPone in Evita; Tyce Green as Patti LuPone in Sunset Blvd., Tyce Green as--well, I think you get the general idea.
B.J. Cleveland's direction of the show was well done. In a show like this; pacing is critical, and the show moved in a lively, enjoyable manner. Mr. Cleveland also has a knack for bringing out the best in his performers, and assigned the right material to the appropriate players. The sets by Dennis Canright and costumes by Suzi Cranford were as witty as the material. I loved the caricatures that were used in many of the sets; and check out the period costume with the bustle in the Sondheim scene! Kevin Gutner and the orchestra provided excellent musical accompaniment.
Now for some minor carping: there was a verse missing from the "Dolly is a Girl's Best Friend" number. As it contained some of my favorite Allesandrini lyrics ("Love Boat's nice!/I've done that twice!"), I was sorry to hear the truncated version performed. In a similar vein, I missed the original "Tomorrow" parody written for Forbidden Broadway ("I'll learn a new song tomorrow/but until tomorrow, then ‘Tomorrow' will have to do"). [This production used a different version.]
However, let's return to the superb evening of entertainment that Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits at Uptown Players truly is. Months from now, I'll think about "Glosse Fosse," or "You Can't Stop the Camp," and I'll smile. Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits continues at Uptown Players through August 29. For more information, please visit their website at http://uptownplayers.org/