No forbidding “Forbidden Broadway”!
This show caters to those who play their Broadway CDs and know all of the words to every show from "West Side Story” to ”Les Miz.”
Will the rest of the audience enjoy it?
It is both fast-paced and short. You have to admire the sheer quantity of lyrics that had to be learned for this show, and for those who knew the originals, unlearned. There were, as in all community theater, highlights and lowlights.
“Forbidden Broadway” is an amazing training piece for the less experienced performers, and a romp for the performers who have both talent and stamina. Even the less experienced gave boundless enthusiasm to their efforts.
For those who want to know what they are going to see at Encore Theater today or next weekend, these are the details.
There is no set, just platform and steps; there is no story, just new lyrics to old songs. All of the performers wear microphones, so hearing is not a problem. The few who do not sing crisply may not be understood, but will be heard. The trio accompaniment is on stage and a part of the action.
“Forbidden Broadway” was a last-minute replacement for “A Tale of Two Cities.” This may have been a problem for a few who had chosen not to be in the former, but would have chosen to audition for this one. Committing to six weeks of summer takes some serious planning. That said, the men were for the most part less dynamic than the women. This is a recurring problem in amateur theater around the country.
“Forbidden Broadway” is an unusual theatrical work. It could change as long as there is Broadway. There are at least 11 variations from the creator, Gerard Alessandrini. The most recent debuted in May 2012. Some version has been playing around the world since 1982.
Worth the price of admission (highlights) at Encore are these delightful performances. Caleb Boquist’s parody of “Bring Him Home” called “It’s Too High” is a wonderfully presented argument that few men can sing this song as written. He dramatically pleads with the musicians to change the key.
Caleb is joined by Morgan Bode in a beautifully rendered “The Song That Goes Like This”. Then, Morgan solos with”On my Phone,” which wins for cuteness and is the easiest humor for every member of the audience. Morgan is also a participant in the “Mamma Mia” trio with Julie Crawford and Lynn Norton. This is another crowd pleaser, nicely performed.
Shelley Dineen provides the only spoken part of the show with an impersonation of Liza Minnelli, and while she didn’t quite find Liza’s voice she made up for it with lots of attitude. And on the subject of attitude, there is a number in the middle of the first act that won the audience with lots of pizzazz, although I doubt that five people in any of our six audiences get it. Julie Crawford and Morgan Bode are Chita Rivera and Rita Moreno. It is fun to watch this theatrical spat.
If we were presenting awards, Lynn Norton would get the prize. She was a strong presence in every ensemble piece, did a nice job as Annie, stepped it up a notch as Elpheba, and as Barbra Streisand she wowed us. If I had a wish to be granted it would be that she had performed a duet with the strongest male performer, Caleb Boquist. We were lucky to have both of these gifted people.
While there were a few disappointments such as pitch problems and classic characters that were not quite accomplished by the actors, this is an entertaining way to spend a summer evening.
If you attend one of the remaining performances, and I certainly hope you do, make a mental note of the fact that 11 people performed about 30 numbers in less than an hour and a half with choreographed movement and costume changes. There is chaos backstage that must be equally choreographed. This show is a monumental effort that deserves to be appreciated.