When one hears the title “Forbidden Broadway” nowadays, given recent events in New York City, one might think of barricades and heavily armed police on patrol through neon-lit streets.

But before all, there was “Forbidden Broadway” the revue that for nearly 30 years has been entertaining those who like to see and hear fun poked at some of the pretention and personalities associated with the Great White Way.

Gerard Alessandrini created the irreverent hit show out of a perceived need to, at least for an evening, take on the excesses and extravagances of big-time musical theater.

The version currently running at the Arundel Barn Playhouse meets that need with a spirited cast laying it on the line — much like the show-biz troupers they lampoon.

Director James Valletti has kept the show fast paced with an overall feel of if-you-didn’t-like-that-number-don’t-worry-because-here-comes-another-one.

Cast members Alexandra Frankovich, Heather Kopp, Deon Oliverio, Kayla Ricker and Chapman Riedel each get lead moments as well as the opportunity to ham it up in ensemble pieces.

Among the latter at Friday’s performance, the cast’s take on “Fiddler on the Roof” featured a nicely done bit of comical choreography staged by Valletti while the satire on Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” included some fine vocal counterpoint and rapid-fire elocution.

Kopp had a memorable solo spot when she embodied the manic stylings of Liza Minnelli while Oliverio nailed the scenery-chewing insistence of Mandy Patinkin. He also shone as a somewhat frustrated feline character in, you guessed it, “Cats.”

Frankovich and Ricker got crazy with a whirlwind number out of “Mamma Mia” while Riedel lambasted a famous producer reduced to hawking show T-shirts in “Cameron Mackintosh.”

Costuming by A. Lee Viliesis and wigs by Bill Towne made such numbers as those covering “Hairspray” and “Spamalot” special.

To be over-the-top and self-referential both get expansive new meanings in this show.

The piano-only accompaniment provided onstage by Nicholas Place on Friday night (from musical direction by Jaime Castellanos) was right on the money.

It must be said that a few of the numbers are based on such dated references that it would seem as though the satirical statute of limitations may have run out.

The eccentricities of Carol Channing and Barbra Steisand, for example, refer back to a Broadway galaxy long ago and far away. (The playhouse website, but not the printed program, does refer to the show as “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits.”)

Regardless, there are more than enough laughs plus good singing and dancing to recommend this witty show to theater lovers out to have a little fun as the summer season at Arundel draws to a close.


Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.


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