Where can you find Bea Arthur and Elaine Stritch dueting? Stephen Sondheim conducting a singalong? Mel Brooks starring in The Producers? Only in Forbidden Broadway, the irreverent, ever-morphing parody now turning 20.
Ensconced at 42nd Street’s Douglas Fairbanks Theater, FB has come a long way since its Mickey-and-Judy-style debut at Palssons Supper Club in 1982. ”I thought, Wouldn’t it be fun to put a show together for me and my friends?” recalls madcap creator Gerard Alessandrini, 45, who lifted the music from Broadway’s hits of the day, wrote his own lacerating lyrics, and sprung for costumes. Seven albums and 12 editions later, he’s skewered big stars (from Merman to Madonna) and bigger shows (the 10-minute Les Miserables is legendary). ”We do things they can’t on Broadway,” Alessandrini says. (Like Liza Minnelli trilling ”I’m getting married in the morning/Ding-dong, I hope this one is straight!”) All this drubbing is done by a cast of four, in roughly 90 minutes and 90 costumes.
As stars enter and shows exit, Alessandrini tunes up. He’s already tackled yet-to-open Oklahoma! and will soon lampoon Sweet Smell of Success. Another deliciously spoofable subject? ”Kathleen Turner in The Graduate!” Watch your back, Mrs. R.