Forbidden Broadway at the Vaudeville
Forbidden Broadway has been mocking musical giants for over 30 years, since Gerard Alessandrini starting penning funny songs on the back of paper napkins in 1980s New York. Sharing similarly humble beginnings, it runs just like a comedy sketch show – a jumble of quick-fire hilarity and an abundance of radical costume changes.
The show has the same glamour, glitz and not-quite-believable joviality that your typical musical does, only this one lacks the easy yet eminently rewarding rollercoaster storyline and cheaply satisfying sing-along songs. There are enough punches (however wan) of comedy to keep your attention occupied, but, perhaps contrary to expectation, you must be a real advocate of musical theatre to truly enjoy the show. Covering the old and new – Cats to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – the four cast members flex the limits of their musical talent to fascinating extremes. Christina Bianco’s vocal range is excellent, impressively bold and distorted to wonderful comedic effect. The energy and the voices are full-throttle and the costumes are pleasingly archetypal. But it almost feels like a sixth form revue, where the participants seem to be having much more fun than the audience and it all seems like one big private joke that you’re left one step behind on.
Without a doubt there is something highly relieving about watching the squeaky clean and untarnished surface of musical theatre being ripped apart (right down to Les Miserables’ extensive use of stage rotation – probably the best gag in the show), but the strength of a passionate motivation seems to have weakened in this revival, and the consistency of wit and humour fails. Some of the jokes are undeserved and thus not funny, and some are owing purely to the endearing characters of the cast rather than intelligent writing. The show’s most powerful legacy is its ability to make you want to go and see the musicals in question – to be reminded of the classic elements of musicals that are actually entertaining.
Forbidden Broadway is on at the Vaudeville Theatre until 22nd November 2014, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch a trailer for Forbidden Broadway here: