Reviewed by David Smith
Forbidden Broadway is part review, part concert. It’s a series of thirty–odd delightfully disrespectful, re-written Broadway songs and routines, sung and enacted by the cast of twelve on a bare stage, accompanied by a single piano.
Ben Saunders has done a fine job with this entertaining show and was central to its success. He was director and musical director as well as sole accompanist. He kept the production moving, and along with Rachel Dow’s snappy choreography, gave it a sense of unity. That’s a decided achievement in such a varied show.
Much of the satire was cleverly written, and therefore reliant on crisp diction. Among many examples, that was best shown in the ensemble pieces based on Into the Woods (led by Chris Barritt as a smug Stephen Sondheim) and Les Miserables.
The audience had lots to laugh about. Ron Abelita as the Phantom (Mucus of the Night), Mel George as Annie and Ethel Merman, and Amy Hutchinson as Wicked’s green witch, all performed with great humour and verve. Omkar Nagesh nailed his cameo Somewhat Overindulgent with a suitably excessive performance which was well enough controlled to stay funny. Other high points were George Bannard’s God, It’s High and Claire McEvoy as young Cossette.
For wonderful characterisation, sure timing and hilarious physicality, Jenny Scarce-Tolley really hit the mark as Eponine (On My Phone!), Barbra Streisand and Liza Minelli.
While the satire was probably best appreciated by those with a close working knowledge of the original Broadway blockbusters, the Marie Clark ensemble generally transcended that and made the comedy accessible to the entire audience.