Old Stamping Grounds

Whether new plays or revivals, Broadway shows seem to be singing familiar tunes

Not that Mantello's evening wholly lacks endearing moments: Kevin Chamberlin, though about as Italian-American as egg salad on Wonder bread, invests the hero with a wistfully elephantine pathos. Brooks Ashmanskas supplies both reality and drollery as the house's campiest customer (a role created, memorably, by F. Murray Abraham). And if you can forget the unforgettable Moreno for a moment, Rosie Perez has a sweetly feisty appeal that, like McNally's comic asides, charms you just enough to keep the evening rolling.

What have you done for me philately? F. Murray Abraham and Bobby Cannavale in Mauritius
Joan Marcus
What have you done for me philately? F. Murray Abraham and Bobby Cannavale in Mauritius


By Theresa Rebeck
MTC/Biltmore Theatre
261 West 47th Street

The Ritz
By Terrence McNally
Roundabout/Studio 54
254 West 54th Street

Forbidden Broadway: Rude Awakening
By Gerard Alessandrini
47th Street Theatre
304 West 47th Street

The wrinkles that now edge Forbidden Broadway's impudent grin have an old, familiar look too, but that's as much Broadway's fault as Gerard Alessandrini's. Quite simply, there's nothing new to ridicule on Broadway, so in the revue's latest edition, subtitled Rude Awakening, writer and co-director Alessandrini lets his ill temper show through, with parody after parody excoriating the money-hungry producers who've turned the big street into "Dumber Broadway" (Grease's "Summer Lovin'") by putting up TV-star-laden shows for "Slow People" ("Show People" from Curtains). The old Les Miz parody, like the original, is back; spoofs of Grey Gardens's "Revolutionary Costume" and Cole Porter's "Please Don't Monkey With Broadway" virtually echo rather than parody the originals' sentiments. Aside from a genuinely witty spoof of the Company revival, even the revue's usually acute physical mimicry seems blurrier. If Broadway keeps spiralling downward, Alessandrini may be forced to try his hand at political satire. Are we ready for Forbidden Cheney?

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