Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Forbidden Broadway Goes To Rehab


By Gerard Alessandrini. 47th Street Theatre. (CLOSED)

Gerard Alessandrini's beloved Broadway-bashing institution is mounting its (purportedly) final installment. Between praising its comic acuity and lamenting its end, many critics speculated that the reason Forbidden is taking a final lap is that Broadway has become so self-parodic, and often self-referential, that it hardly needs satirizing. Still, critics mostly echoed Newsday's Linda Winder, who said simply: "Don't go!"

Curtain Up A+
(Elyse Sommer) Call me a cockeyed optimist, I think that even if the series will fade away, Forbidden Broadway Goes to Rehab, being one of the funniest and freshest installments to hit the itty-bitty stage of the 47th Street Theater, is going to extend for at least a little while past the announced closing date...The foursome starring in the current edition is fabulous.

New York Times A
(Ben Brantley) This venerable satiric revue was looking a bit peaked when I checked in on it a year ago...But having announced that it would be officially ending its nearly 27-year reign of merry terror on Jan. 15, Gerard Alessandrini's long-lived show appears to have been blessed with that burst of have-to-win energy that descends on weary racers as they near the finish line. Its latest incarnation...finds an old war horse of spoofery with muscles tautened, nostrils flaring and teeth polished and sharpened -- the better to kick, snort at and bite the institution that has fed it for so many years.

Newsday A
(Linda Winer) The latest - and apparently last - edition of this essential Off-Broadway treasure is as inspired, as plugged-in, as cruel-to-be-kind and as cruel-to-be-fun as the best of the 18 versions that have satirized New York theater since 1982...The "rehab" theme is a little lame, but there are remarkably few valleys among the peaks.

Village Voice A

(Michael Feingold) The latest edition of Forbidden Broadway...displays Alessandrini's malice in full flower, as expected, but also with surprisingly compassionate, at times even philosophic, overtones...Alessandrini's snipes at individual star performers, which I often used to find uncomfortably mean-spirited, similarly seem to have taken on added depth. Or maybe it's just that the new edition features an exceptionally fine cast, especially strong in the vocal department.

Time Out NY A
(Adam Feldman) In recent seasons, Gerard Alessandrini’s satirical revue—a perennial mecca for show-tune addicts—slid into a mild depression; its spoofs of Broadway shows lacked bite, and its performers sometimes seemed less concerned with punching lines than with punching the clock. But the latest edition is the best in years. Alessandrini’s zingers burst with fresh vim, and the delightful new cast delivers them with wit, energy and just the right mixture of winking and bile. The show has a spit-polish gleam.

NJ Star-Ledger A
(Michael Sommers) In excellent form, the maestro of musical theater mockery goes out on a hilarious high with his latest version...The show easily manages to be both insider and yet accessible to folks who visit Broadway sporadically...Touchingly, the revue concludes with an affectionate salute to Sondheim, whose Merrily We Roll Along flop was a spark that lit Alessandrini's satirical torch way back when.

North Jersey Record A
(Robert Feldberg) "Gerard a master at finding the soft underbelly of Broadway shows and performers, and deftly inserting the knife...At times, though, over the years, the humor in some editions has had a tired, hectoring quality...Forbidden Broadway Goes to Rehab, however, is a throwback to the show's glory days. It's fresh and smart, and it pulses with a renewed comic energy.

Talkin' Broadway A-
(Matthew Murray) None of the acts wants for bite, and more surprises abound than usual...There are, as always, some decaying holdovers...and a bizarrely straight-faced Stephen Sondheim tribute that's as heartwarming as it is baffling. As always, the cast's energy and versatility make compelling pitches for the dustier items.

Theatermania B+
(Brian Scott Lipton) There are many good reasons to visit the 47th Street Theatre other than to pay one's last respects, even if Alessandrini isn't going out with his best-ever outing. In many ways, Rehab is one of Forbidden Broadway's more gentle editions, although the knives have been duly sharpened for a few shows, especially the entire Disney canon...The show's real revelation is a pint-sized dynamo named Christina Bianco.

Variety B
(Mark Blankenship) "Solid but unspectacular, Forbidden Broadway Goes to Rehab, the final New York installment of the long-running satirical revue, proves why the show has become an institution and why, after 26 years, it's probably time for a break. When he's on, writer-creator Gerard Alessandrini still offers up vicious parody, but when he's coasting, he just repeats a basic set of gripes.

Curtain Up A+ 14; New York Times A 13; Newsday A 13; Village Voice A 13; TONY A 13; NJ Star-Ledger A 13; North Jersey Record A 13; Talkin' Broadway A- 12; Theatermania B+ 11; Variety B 10; TOTAL: 125 / 10 = 12.5 A/A-

No comments: