This is it, folks. We know we’ve come to the crunch, artistically speaking, when ecoterrorism and cabaret satire shake hands. The new edition of Gerard Alessandrini’s Forbidden Broadway series, co-directed by Alessandrini and Philip George, has moved from ridiculing mainstream capitalist theater to the active simulation of violence against it. The show starts with a simulacrum of Annie‘s overgrown orphan getting gunned down in mid-whine, cuts to a parody of the Broadway stars who play Law and Order‘s TV detectives interviewing an aesthetically assaulted theatergoer, and moves on to imagine Stephen Sondheim gunned down by his own Assassins characters (they sing, “I am unworthy of your words”); Billy Joel totaling his car while busy repudiating Twyla Tharp (“I don’t care if we both won a Tony/Your boys are too buff and your girls are too bony”); and Harvey Fierstein, in his Hairspray dress and Tevye’s beard, lamenting his gay image to Jerry Robbins in Heaven (“If I Were a Straight Man”).
In other numbers, Alessandrini’s crew lament Broadway’s endless recycling and lack of enterprise, its seesawing from relentless cheery inanity to artsy pretension, its infestation of puppets, the despoiling of its American traditions by British directors, and even, by way of Bombay Dreams, its outsourcing. By the time the four-member cast, costumed as famous figures from the more glorious musicals of half a century ago, clusters together at the end to chant, “The golden age is now,” it’s hard to know whether Alessandrini is trying to sweeten the deal or give the knife one last twist. Either way, he’s got Broadway dead, as it were, to rights. As always, his actors—currently Ron Bohmer, Megan Lewis, Jason Mills, and Jennifer Simard—stagger you with their skill at impersonation.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 21, 2004