“Whatever Fosse Wants” sung, of course, to the tune of “Whatever Lola Wants” from Damn Yankees is one of the grand highlights of
Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation. Chris Collins-Pisano and Jenny Lee Stern hilariously recreate the vaunted mannerisms of the legendary couple who were immortalized in the recent television mini-series Fosse/Verdon.
Among the magnetic and youthful Mr. Collins-Pisano’s other achievements is a sensational Tevye from the Yiddish Fiddler on the Roof, a wicked Lin-Manuel Miranda and an august Harold Prince with his hair sprayed gray. Ms. Stern raucously scores with a vicious take on Renée Zellweger’s cinematic Judy Garland, a batty Mary Poppins who hosts a jaundiced video memoriam sequence about lost shows such as Fanny and Subways are for Sleeping, and as a snide Bette Midler.
This is the latest edition of creator, writer and director Gerard Alessandrini’s enduring musical spoof skewering present and past NYC theater that he inaugurated- in 1982 and has had over 20 incarnations. Mr. Alessandrini’s erudite, affectionate and acerbic script once again lambasts Broadway while lovingly celebrating its history during its 20 numbers. “Theater isn’t art, unless it hurts.” It’s that aching sense of the collectively treasured memorable greatness of Broadway clashing with its mercenary concerns that enables each version of the show to resonate while entertaining. Plus, it’s very funny and offers a showcase for talented malleable performers.
The 13-year-old prodigy Joshua Turchin is amazing throughout and is terrific in drag as Dorothy Michaels from Tootsie, as a wry Harry Potter and is most outstanding in the takeoff of Dear Evan Hansen wearing a cast on his arm. Limber and animated Immanuel Houston offers a euphoric impression of André De Shields for the Hadestown sendup. Mr. Houston also does a sly Jeremy Pope for the mockery of Ain’t Too Proud, a sharp Jennifer Holliday and a spot-n Billy Porter. The sleek and leggy Aline Mayagoitia is an authentic Bernadette Peters, a voluptuous Karen Olivo and commanding in a variety of diverse roles.
The parodies of the plays The Ferryman and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are rather wan and exemplify the piece’s pervading insider tone, but these don’t drag the show down.
Alessandrini’s often breathtaking staging on the confined cabaret stage contains a number of small-scale coup de théâtre turns that’s enhanced by Gerry McIntyre’s sizzling choreography. “Moulin Rude” replicates Moulin Rouge! The Musical’s opulence with cheeky minimalist flair. “Woke-lahoma!” is an inspired scabrous denunciation of the current bleak revival of Oklahoma! “It’s Got To Be A Musical’s” sardonic treatment of producers raiding the catalogue of successful movies for stage adaptations is accompanied by a roulette wheel adorned with film titles.
Stalwart musical director Fred Barton is on piano and his superior musicianship enriches the production. Dustin Cross’s fabulous costume design recreates the looks of many iconic theatrical figures with natty pizazz. That visual accomplishment is complemented by Conor Donnelly’s outrageous wig design.
Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation is a worthy and quite enjoyable chapter in this ongoing series.
Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation (through November 30, 2019)
Triad Theatre, 158 West 72nd Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-279-4200 or visit http://www.forbiddenbroadway.com
Running time: 75 minutes without an intermission