Monday, March 10, 2014

FORBIDDEN BROADWAY

Written by Gerard Alessandrini
Directed by Anne Somes
Q Theatre, Queanbeyan
7 - 22 March, 2014

Review by Len Power 7 March 2014

If you think you don’t like musicals, here’s your chance to change that.  Free Rain’s satire on musicals, ‘Forbidden Broadway’, lampoons just about all the well-known Broadway musicals like ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’, ‘Annie’, ‘Les Miserables’ etc.

Devised and written by Gerard Alessandrini, ‘Forbidden Broadway’ has become an off-Broadway institution, running virtually continuously in New York since 1982.  It is updated every year adding satires of the new crop of Broadway shows.  This production by Anne Somes at the Q Theatre is a ‘greatest hits’ version of the show.  It moves along at a cracking pace and her wicked cast of thirteen have a lot of fun sending up monumental Broadway shows and characters.

Highlights in the show were Georgia Pike’s outrageous and excellent impersonation of Ethel Merman, Tim Dal Cortivo as Mandy Patinkin singing ‘Somewhat Overindulgent’ to the tune of ‘Over the Rainbow’ and Halimah Kyrgios with a heartfelt and hysterically funny, ‘On My Phone’, a spoof of ‘On My Own’ from ‘Les Miserables’.  Other shows mercilessly skewered are ‘Cats’, ‘Annie’, ‘Spamalot’, ‘Hairspray’, ‘A Chorus Line’, ‘Chicago’, ‘Wicked’ and others.  Broadway personalities come under fire too with evil impersonations of Carol Channing, Liza Minnelli and Barbra Steisand.

The colourful and attractive set designed by Steve Walsh works well with revolving doors enabling fast entrances and exits.  There’s even a small revolve in the floor of the set.  The lighting design by Hamish McConchie is generally fine but the swirling coloured light patterns on the stage floor are a bit over-used and distracting.  Costumes designed by Fiona Leach worked well, especially the classy dresses for the ladies in the opening number.  The multitude of character costumes showed a lot of imagination.  Jacquelyn Richard’s high energy choreography added to the fun and was strongly danced by the cast.

The combination of Nick Griffin’s musical direction and Sarah Darnley-Stuart’s vocal coaching produced a high standard of musical performance by the whole cast.  Nicholas Griffin beautifully accompanied the entire show onstage with one piano.  This is an extraordinary feat given the constantly changing musical styles of the show.

Unfortunately, the sound by Peter Barton was too strongly amplified and it sounded like too much reverb was being used, making it difficult to hear the lyrics at times, especially in the group numbers.  For a musical satire to work, you must be able to hear the jokes clearly.  You have to wonder why so much amplification was considered necessary, given the cast are singing with only a single piano accompaniment.  Hopefully this will be fixed for the rest of the season.

Nevertheless, Anne Somes’ production is a well-staged, enjoyable, tuneful and very funny show and a great showcase for her well-chosen performers.  You’ll have a good time at this one.

Originally broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Dress Circle’ program on Sunday 9 March 2014.



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