Comes Out Swinging
FORBIDDEN BROADWAY (musical revue)
Ends 22nd November 2014.
There's a great white way, where the clouds are grey, and the best is merely
OK... So the Forbidden Broadway team lampoon musicals old and new in witty
The cast is Christina Bianco, Anna-Jane Casey, Damian Humbley and Ben Lewis.
A transfer from the successful 2014 summer run at the Menier Chocolate Factory
Theatre, with a few new bits added...
(Reviewed at the Menier Chocolate Factory at the afternoon performance on 5th
July 2014). Some actors have now left the cast.
The monkey has been an avid collector of the CDs (and even vinyl) from this show
for decades, but it’s only now that it's actually seen the show “live.” And yes,
it's glad it have.
The real joy was understanding how they stage the numbers it's so familiar with
on disc. Sure, the sleeve photos are a pretty good indicator, but now it really
“get” what it’s all about.
The show relies to a great extent on costumes. That’s obviously the easiest way
to deal with so many sequences that would otherwise be unstagable. A few props,
mostly cardboard boxes and handheld items like canes and musical instruments are
all that is required…
… well, that an excellent pianist and a quartet of the most talented musical
comedy actors they can find. Sophie-Louise Dann could be mistaken for Elaine
Paige any time, or anyone else she cares to impersonate. You’ll never see
Anna-Jane Casey and Liza Minelli in the same room together either. Ben Lewis and
Joseph Prouse (Damian Humbley not being Merman, apparently) also managed to
hoist everyone from Hugh Jackman to Mandy Patinkin on their own petards too.
Highlights were the “Matilda,” “Once” and “Spamalot” sequences, but hilarious
arrows flew in all directions throughout. The monkey did object (unintentionally
vocally, sorry) to a sick Apollo Theatre reference – far, far too soon, it felt;
and there was a high proportion of old material in the show. Maybe a little
naughty to present as fresh an old “Pajama Game” sequence, and it could swear
the “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” thing has appeared somewhere earlier
too, albeit in slightly different form.
This is the show for musical theatre fans. No, not fans, “obsessives.” You do
need to have seen every show parodied, and know your Broadway Theatre stars past
and present to really get much from the show. There is a good deal for the more
casual musical theatre fan, but those who get why ‘triple-threat tots’ are funny
have most to gain.
It’s mostly very funny, always exceptionally well done. Well worth seeing. At
least “Once” (provided you are not in that show, of course…).
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