Satire is an aggressive act, and few aesthetic acts could be more aggressive than the two halves of Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit, the newly updated version of Gerard Alessandrini’s long-term expression of his love-hate relationship with the big, money-gobbling shows that nightly pack in busloads of tourists east of his itinerant cabaret revue’s latest location. Using only four resourceful mimics and a pianist, under Philip George’s direction, Alessandrini’s barrage of venomous ridicule would amount to mass slaughter by sniper fire if he didn’t so obviously love his target area: His fury comes from his indignation at the idea that Broadway’s standards have been hopelessly sullied by the stupidity of venal producers, egomaniac stars, unskilled infiltrators from the electronic media, and self-proclaimed high-art princes.

And he does it all to tunes from the works they perpetrate: Christina Applegate, helplessly ineffectual in Sweet Charity, moans, “There’s gotta be someone better than me”; the musical with the flying car is saluted, to the accompaniment of its title song, as “kiddy kiddy claptrap”; Light in the Piazza‘s stars search the score in vain for a hummable tune; and Cherry Jones, in nun’s habit, tells Kathleen Turner, “You’re as bloated as a revival at the Roundabout.” Alessandrini even dishes his own show’s institutional status by spoofing Spamalot‘s best parody as “The Song They Stole From Us.” The mimicry isn’t as uniformly sublime as in some earlier editions, but Ron Bohmer and Jeanne Montano carry their multiple roles off with particularly infectious zest.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 13, 2005

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