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Broadway musicals are serious business. Most of them cost tens of millions of dollars to produce and less than one-third make back their investment. Two of every three tickets are sold to tourists, and the efforts to attract and satisfy those out-of-towners are not for the faint of heart.
But Gerald Alessandrini doesn’t care about all that. The creator of a series of “Forbidden Broadway” satires just wants us to have a good time, and now after a three-year hiatus, he’s back. Celebrating its 30th year, this version has the tag “Alive & Kicking!”, and has earned so many rave reviews that its run has been extended through April 28, 2013.
Without a doubt, these fast moving skits are guaranteed to make you laugh — a lot — even if you haven’t seen all the shows that are skewered by the politically incorrect barbs. You’re sure to recognize most of the performers and other show biz types who are given the once over, and if they have a sense of humor and a thick skin, they’ll enjoy it as much as the audience.
A major plus is the energetic, versatile and multi-talented cast of four — Natalie Charlé Ellis, Scott Richard Foster, Jenny Lee Stern and Marcus Stevens — who provide 100 minutes of non-stop entertainment, all to the piano accompaniment of David Caldwell.
Among the shows that are taken for a spin are “Evita,” “Anything Goes,” “Newsies,” “Spiderman,” “Porgy and Bess” (the Gershwins, that is, not to be confused with any other authors) and “The Book of Mormon” (here parodied as the “Book of Morons”).
I must give special mention to Mr. Stevens, not just because he’s the only cast member who doesn’t list a middle name, but, like most New York actors, he comes from a faraway place (okay, not so far in his case, Wallingford, Pa.), and now resides in our own theater outpost of Astoria. An expert mimic, Mr. Stevens has fun portraying Ricky Martin, Matthew Broderick, Steven Sondheim, Harvey Fierstein and Mandy Patinkin.
For those, like myself, who have an aversion to constant revivals, my favorite bit was when Ms. Stern came out as “Annie” — this time it was “Granny” who could make it to tomorrow only with the help of a walker.
If you’re able-bodied enough, however, make sure you get to the 47th Street Theater (304 West 47th Street, off 8th Avenue) and treat yourself to a good time. The theater has only about 200 seats so you won’t miss the facial expressions or the array of costumes. The small stage has never been bigger.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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