Forbidden Broadway: Rude Awakening, 47th St. Theater, New York

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Marathon running musicals, Les Misérables, Cats, A Chorus Line and Chicago, are a phenomena of musical history. They are matched, however, by sassy Forbidden Broadway, the satirical little show that makes fun of past, current and coming Broadway targets that has just celebrated its 25th anniversary.

This perennial spoof produced on a shoestring with only four talented actors, Jared Bradshaw, Janet Dickinson, James Donaldson and Valerie Fagan, a pianist (Steve Saari), inventive costumes by Alvin Colt, is holding its own if showing its age. As Broadway gets dumber and more Disney dominated, the targets get weaker. Yet FB can boast an uncanned laugh track most of the time.

Created and written by Gerard Alessandrini, whose knowledge of showbiz and Broadway could fill a whole section at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, has taken the Tony Award winning Spring Awakening as his main theme for this edition, mixing the programme with older material.

The insidiousness of mobile phones is nicely caught in the opening when two “latecomers” looking for their seats end up on either side of the stage to chat back and forth. Later they skewer Sping Awakening with new lyrics to Cole Porter’s “It’s D’ Lovley” – “its depressing, it’s degraded, it’s disgusting”.

The full send up of the Frank Wedekind play about l9th century German adolescents and their sex lives is, however, saved for the end of the show and proves one of the best skits. Janet Dickinson, sheathed in a fishtail perched on a piano mourning her plight of having no feet and only a lobster for a leading man does a great job with the soon to open The Little Mermaid. Les Miserables (the revival) gets the wittiest, in-depth treatment with mobile phones again playing a part, as in one scene a bored chorus member (Valerie Fagan) hidden in shadow back of the stage, texts and calls “the jerk I’m sleeping with”.

James Donovan, a voice-wavering, mike tweaked Phantom vying with Valerie Fagan, a convincing Ethel Merman, hilariously send up “You’re Just in Love” while Alessandrini’s new lyrics to Porter’s “Don’t Monkey With Broadway” go to prove he can and he does, often brilliantly.

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