Forbidden Broadway is an off-Broadway, musical-theatre parody written by Gerard Alessandrini that has spawned 25 show editions and 12 cast albums since its first New York opening some thirty years ago. Best described as a ‘musical within a musical’, this show pulls together and makes fun of some of the most notorious scenes and show tunes from our beloved and popular stage shows. Despite huge success at the Menier Chocolate Factory earlier this year, it seemed brave that this show – with a very ‘niche’ market of die-hard musical-theatre fans – would open for a limited run in the heart of London’s West End. Pessimism aside, it has been a rare opportunity for the true musical theatre-loving community to get together, joke, mock and laugh at our passion and trade – the theatre – and do that, it certainly has.
Not one musical slips through the net to escape Forbidden Broadway’s sarcasm and wit. From a side-splitting take on Les Mis’ famous revolving set, to a hilarious sketch devoted to Charlie and the ‘technically-challenged’ Chocolate factory, the cast and creatives behind this show have let no show, nor stage celebrity, go unnoticed. Even Liza Minelli,
Adele Dazeem Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth are thrown into the spotlight, albeit a little differently than usual.
Whilst the four-man-cast are, together, simply brilliant, this show is very much dominated by two sublime leading ladies: Christina Bianco and Anna-Jane Casey. Where Damian Humbley and Ben Lewis both give an enchanting performance, Bianco and Casey blow the roof off of the Vaudeville Theatre with their jaw-dropping vocals. Bianco, in particular, wows with her solo performances and vivacious stage presence. Making her West End debut in Forbidden Broadway, it wouldn’t be a surprise if she was snapped up for a new role on a West End stage in the near future.
For ‘stagey’ souls, like myself, this musical is an absolute must-see, providing just-over 2 hours of theatrical hysteria. But, as predicted prior to watching Forbidden Broadway, this show would be completely lost on people with a restricted or limited knowledge of the musical-theatre world (which was probably the case for the foreign couple sat beside me who walked out just 20 minutes in to Act 1, never to return). #LDNTheatreBloggers, critics and stagey friends have absolutely loved the show – and I stand beside them. Get yourself a ticket before it closes this month!