Broadway shows can be serious business. Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera come to mind when contemplating heavy dramas.
But then there’s the funny, silly, satirical side of theater, which will be showcased when Forbidden Broadway: Alive & Kicking! arrives at the Valentine Theatre on Nov. 22.
This latest touring production parodies Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway in the film version of the hit musical Les Miserables; veteran Broadway actor Mandy Patinkin (currently appearing in the TV series Homeland), who’s also known for his singing, and the hugely successful New York musical The Book of Mormon. The Toledo audience can also expect to laugh at spoofs of Jersey Boys, Wicked, The Lion King, Annie, Mary Poppins, Chicago, Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, and more.
“We're very careful to do the shows that everybody knows, because we want everybody to laugh at every joke. We are careful not to do anything that feels dated,” John Freedson, lead producer of Forbidden Broadway for the past 20 years, said in a telephone interview.
Freedson says Gerard Alessandrini, who created the Off-Broadway smash about 30 years ago and continues to write and direct every incarnation of the show, “tries to make it what he calls ‘mother proof,’ so if his mother comes in from Needham, Massachusetts [to see the show], she'll get all the jokes” even though she hasn’t seen any of the originals.
Most of the jokes are self-explanatory, Freedson says. For example, in the Annie number, “she comes out in the Annie dress, except she’s not young anymore, and she has a cigarette dangling from her mouth. And instead of singing ‘The sun will come out tomorrow,’ she’s singing ‘I’m 30 years old tomorrow, and I haven't worked since I played Annie when I was 10’.”
Alessandrini developed Forbidden Broadway in 1982, when he was an unemployed actor and assembled some of the parodies he had written into a nightclub act. Its popularity with critics and audiences has made it New York’s longest-running musical comedy revue, according to press materials. It has had more than 9,000 performances and has played around the United States and in Tokyo, Singapore, and Sidney. In 2006, the show and Alessandrini received the Tony Honors Award for Excellence in Theatre, and has won three Drama Desk Awards and a Drama League Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theater.
“The show is very smart and very silly. It is a tremendous amount of work but an absolute blast to do. The audience always has a fantastic time,” actor Craig Laurie said via email. In the show, he plays Mandy Patinkin, Rafiki the monkey from The Lion King, a cat from Cats, and one of the Jersey Boys. He has performed in the New York and touring productions of the show, and originated the role of Bob Crewe in the Chicago production of Jersey Boys.
The cast also includes Janet Caine, a University of Michigan graduate who appears as the witch in Wicked and as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys; Trish Rapier, who portrays Anne Hathaway and Mary Poppins, and Kevin B. McGlynn, who appears as Hugh Jackman and in segments on The Book of Mormon, Jersey Boys, and The Lion King.
“Forbidden Broadway” will be presented at 8 p.m. Nov. 22 at the Valentine Theatre, 400 N. Superior St. Tickets, $56, $46, and $36, are available from 419-242-2787, or www.valentinetheatre.com.
Auditions for Noises Off, a comedy written by Michael Frayn and directed by Carol Ann Erford, will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Toledo Repertoire Theatre, 16 10th St. The physically demanding comedy has nine characters, five males and four females, ages 20 to 50 and older. Callbacks are 7 p.m. Tuesday. Noises Off runs Jan. 17-26. Information: 419-243-9277.
Tickets for the Toledo Rep’s fund-raising raffle may be purchased for $25 from www.toledorep.org and at 16 10th St. today through Sunday during the final performances of Arsenic and Old Lace. Daily drawings will take place Dec. 1-12 for prizes valued at $50 and more. Information: 419-243-9277.
Send theater items at least two weeks in advance to Sue Brickey at email@example.com.