Something an off-Broadway institution, musical theatre satire show Forbidden Broadway can currently be seen over on our shores, at the Strand’s Vaudeville Theatre, more specifically, having transferred from the Menier Chocolate Factory.
Razor sharp and devilishly witty, the show lovingly (or so it claims) rips to shreds a whole host of musical shows, performers, writers and more, perfectly pinpointing the source of humour in each individual musical. Unlike its original American counterpart, however, this version focuses almost exclusively on shows with are either on in the West End at the moment, are touring or at the very least fall within recent memory. Comedy comes from recognition, after all, and there are nods, well perhaps stabs would be more appropriate, to some pretty huge shows. From Billy Elliot to Phantom of the Opera via Wicked and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I would wager that most people in the audience would have been familiar with at least one or two shows in the parody repertoire.
And even if they weren’t, each sketch has enough silly, slapstick comedy in there to keep you going if you’re not getting the in-jokes.
Brought to life by a ludicrously talented cast, including Merrily We Roll Along’s, also on at the Menier, Forbidden Broadway is unfailingly funny throughout. For me the Les Miserables section, turning ‘One Day More’ into ’10 Years More’ and having great fun with the rotating stage was a particular highlight, in fact I would merrily have watched an full-show spoof of it, as was the Idina-bashing of Defying Gravity and Let it Go. Cristina Bianco's impression of Kristen Chenoweth is also well worth a mention, although admittedly by the nature of the show everyone will have their own personal favourites.
Laugh out loud funny, this is a great night out, particularly if you’re going with a gang of theatre nerds, professionals or a combination of the two. Oddly though, and I’m not sure whether this says good or bad things about the show, although I mean it as a compliment, the overwhelming effect on me when leaving the theatre was one of wanting to go and see again every one of the shows I’d just seen ridiculed.
I’ve also had every single one of the sketch songs in my head over the past few days since I saw it. And with musical theatre, there isn’t really a higher compliment than that.
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Watch the trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4arIIDKEUM