Reviewed by Judy Richter
Lovers of musical theater will find lots to like in the current version of "Forbidden Broadway." Its 25th anniversary tour has alighted at San Jose Repertory Theatre for a brief visit. Accompanied by musical director Catherine Stornetta and choreographed by Phillip George, the two-woman, two-man cast cleverly skewers Broadway shows and personalities.
The show's creator, writer and original director, Gerard Alessandrini, wrote the first version in 1982. Since then, it has gone through 12 editions and enjoyed a long run in New York. His current targets are as recent as "In the Heights," surprise winner of the 2008 Tony, and as perennial as "Fiddler on the Roof," "Annie" and "Chicago." It goes after puppets in "Avenue Q" and "The Lion King." It also bemoans the Disneyization of Broadway with the latter show as well as "Mary Poppins" and "The Little Mermaid."
Individual targets include producer Cameron Macintosh's shameless merchandizing, Bob Fosse's distinctive choreography (a la "Chicago"), Carol Channing's repeat appearances in "Hello, Dolly," Sarah Brightman's high range, Patti LuPone's mannered "Gypsy" and Liza Minnelli's breathlessness. Some of the cleverer bits target "Jersey Boys" and Frankie Valli -- "Walk Like a Man, Sing Like a Girl" -- and "Fiddler on the Roof," where "Tradition" becomes "Ambition" to explain why there are so many actors in New York City.
The talented cast includes Gina Kreiezmar, Jeanne Montano, William Selby and Michael West. Ingenious costumes are by Alvin Colt, and the right-on wigs are by Carol Sherry. Some bits work better than other, but the overall effect is amusing and clever, especially for those familiar with the shows and personalities.