The hidden gem of New York has made its hilarious return to Orange County with a brief run in the beautiful Samueli Theater at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Forbidden Broadway has been around since the early 80’s with many renditions parading much of today’s most popular Broadway hits. It’s an outrageously funny show that left many of us with tears from laughter. This is the definition of “laugh out loud” funny! It’s a show for anyone that knows even just a little Broadway music or just wants to enjoy a mockery of the unsaid ridiculousness found it popular musicals of today.
While the show is designed truly as a night club performance, it’s the intimacy of the space and the performance that makes it a special night for the audience. The cast of 4 insanely witty and multi-talented characters will wow you with their range, physical humor and comedic timing. Each cast member is very different from the other all attributing to countless acts and characters from a laundry list of different Broadway shows.
Forbidden Broadway hits the ground running with one song after another starting with Annie to a hilariously epic number dedicated to Les Miserables. With the cast of 4 frantically running around and nearly non-stop singing, there is a brief intermission before leading to the likes of Wicked, Once, and The Book of Mormon, just to name a few! Each bit seems equally as funny while the original writer and creator Gerad Alessandrini achieves comedic gold without needing to be crude or vulgar; relatively I guess.
The show truly does not have a plot, but rather the audience is treated to medley of familiar songs all with updated lyrics poking fun at the show it is famous from. It’s downright silly and campy, and that’s okay! Forbidden Broadway isn’t trying to be anything it’s not. The performance are over-the-top, on purpose, but while the singing may not be top-notch it’s still pretty spot on. I had no complaints to how any of the performers sounded and was more impressed with how many different styles they must sing than anything else.
I would expect there may be a few insider references that most wont get, but there is enough other gags and jokes that should have your gut busting with laughter. There is a plethora of bits that work well with many standout performances based off Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, Avenue Q and ones previously mentioned.
The cast includes Gina Kreiezmar who has been in the production since 1992, Kevin B. McGlynn, Trisa Rapier, and Marcus Stevens who all have an impressive background including off-Broadway experience. Each one fits their roles impeccably and were a delight the entire show. Without a perfect cast, I can see this show falling flat easily as it’s dependent on just 4 performers and one incredible pianists that plays the entire show. This show featured Catherine Stornetta who is also the mastermind behind the orchestration of Forbidden Broadway as well as the off-shoots Forbidden Hollywood and Forbidden Christmas.
While the show holds it own and has a long history, I also want to mention about the perfect venue at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The Samueli Theater is a multi-purpose venue that does small-stage productions, wedding receptions, special event dinners, and more. It has different configurations including risers, standard rows of chairs, and in this scenario a more night-club set-up with tables for four and nice little flickering battery operated candles in the tables center. It really creates a nice lounge-like setting with concessions being allowed to be brought in. Therefore don’t overly do it with drinks before the show, you can purchase more at the concession stand and enjoy during it. However, they will be at theater prices can put a dent in the wallet.
Ultimately, this is a perfect night out in a great venue. It’s nearly two hours straight of light hearted fun. It’s refreshing to see a show teasing the theater scene yet rewarding as it still evident it’s a bit of a tribute. It’s a clever show that’s been around for awhile for a reason. I can see why it was such a sensation in New York and I look forward to seeing a new rendition in future years.
The show is only playing until October 4th, so while I’m writing this there are only the weekend shows left. Check out scfta.org for more information including a dinner package option with a three course meal at Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge right next door.