Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits
By Gerard Alessandrini
Directed and Choreographed by Roy Alan
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park, FL
How does one detect pomposity? Hundred dollar tickets for a matinee is one marker. While Broadway may be the pinnacle of Western theatre, it’s about as full of itself as any plastic haired newsman. That’s what makes this show so much fun – you’ve sat through “Les Mis” and bought the tee shirt for “Cats” and acted like you didn’t think “Annie” was the whiniest little girl since…since…Abba?
Well, they’re all here, punctured and re-written and made in to humorous moments the original authors desperately tried to avoid. We open with some Bob Fosse, God of the Jazz Hands and then plunge into Stephen Sondheim complete with homework assignments for the audience. I’m old enough to have had sentence diagramming in High School but no one, not even Fosse could diagram a Sondheim lyric. There’s an ensemble cast, and they go through numbers so fast you’ll have to work with me: Heather Kopp breathed life into a zombie Carol Channing singing “Dolly is a Girl’s Best Friend”, Benjamin Ptashinski channeled Mandy Ptashinski for a re-write of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and a tee shirt commercial for “Cats,” Ms. Kopp joined Allyssa Yost for a West Side story dance off in “Chita/Rita”, and David Almeida teamed up with Mr. Ptashinski to skewer “Rent.” “Rent” seems to be everywhere these days; it’s sort of like “Christmas Carol” for Gen X.
Other highlights include “The Song That Goes Like This” from “Spam-A-Lot”, it survived relatively intact; after all it’s a parody to begin with. Everyone teamed up for “Ambition” from “Fiddler on The Roof,” and it amped d up with “Rejection” and “Attention” and a few indefinite nouns. “Wicked” and “A Chorus Line” and “Phantom of the Opera” took hits, and nothing lasted for much longer than gag was worth. If you’ve seen all the shows you’ll get all the jokes, and if not, just laugh with everyone else. That’s what the guy in the back left corner of the audience did, he had more fun than anyone else. Are we going to let him get away with that?
For more information on Winter Park Playhouse, please visit http://www.winterparkplayhouse.org