BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
OFF BROADWAY REVIEW
Light, lively and lethal as ever, the “Forbidden Broadway” series returns after a three-year hiatus in a new “Alive and Kicking” edition that delightfully rolls around in New York’s gutter theatrical.
Speaking of “Evita,” here you will see Ricky Martin croon, “Dinner theater’s back, livin’ Evita loca!” even as Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin trumpet their undying “100% real” love for each other. A chubby Matthew Broderick nasally whines, “Nice Song if I Could Sing it” and Bernadette Peters rasps how her frayed voice sounds just fine “In Stephen’s Ears.”
They are among more than 30 stars who are neatly, often hilariously caricatured by four sharp performers in the revue that opened on Thursday at the 47th Street Theater.
Shows as new as “Newsies, “Once” and that “Into the Woods” just done in Central Park are among those amusingly lampooned by writer Gerard Alessandrini, who remembers to pay comical tribute to such long-runners as “Mary Poppins,” “The Lion King” and “Jersey Boys.” Sitting ducks like “Spider-Man” (with a duel to the death by Bono and Julie Taymor), the retooled “Porgy and Bess” and TV’s “Smash” (“They hope that we can out-glee ‘Glee’!”) are other prime targets for Maestro Alessandrini’s satire.
His parodies of these attractions, usually employing their own tunes in the process, are mostly genial but can sting at times. “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and its bland co-stars are dubbed “S’Wonder Bread, S’mayonnaise.” The hyper-active ragamuffins in “Newsies” huff, “Now is the time for cheese on stage!” To the tune of “Summertime,” an over-emoting Audra McDonald warbles, “Op’ra time, and the music ain’t easy …. Fish are jumpin’ while I vocalize high.”
Alessandrini saves his sharpest criticism for late in the proceedings when Trey Parker and Matt Stone pop up in a “Book of Moron” consideration of their all-leveling comedy intent. “To murder good taste is our mission,” they describe their Broadway crusade. “Insult all and stand tall.”
My personal favorite bit may be the burlesque of “Once,” which involves wicked impersonations of its melancholy leads by Scott Richard Foster and Jenny Lee Stern – complete with vacuum cleaner – or perhaps it’s Marcus Stevens’ dead-on impression of a wincing Stephen Sondheim. Of course, the choreographic send-up of the newspaper dance in “Newsies” is mighty funny, too.