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EnlargeCarol Rosegg/Forbidden BroadwayNatalie Charle Ellis, Scott Richard Foster, Jenny Lee Stern and Marcus Stevens are part of Gerard Alessandrini's Forbidden Broadway troupe, which is returning to the stage after a three-year hiatus.
After 27 years of writing wickedly funny lyrics and sketches for Forbidden Broadway, the tiny off-Broadway comedy that satirizes Broadway musicals, Gerard Alessandrini decided to hang things up for a while.
just thought, let's see what happens to Broadway in a year or two or
three, and then, if we feel it warrants a new edition of Forbidden Broadway, we'll do that," he says. "And that's exactly what happened."
The new edition, called Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking!, opens Sept. 6, skewering The Book of Mormon, Once and Newsies, among others. And, as in past shows, Alessandrini says anything having to do with Broadway is fair game.
Carol Rosegg/Forbidden Broadway
Natalie Charle Ellis and Jenny Lee Stern get their Marilyn on in the Smash parody "Let Me Be Subpar," with help from Marcus Stevens.
"This year, the offshoot is Smash, the
TV show that is about the mounting of a Broadway musical," Alessandrini
explains. "I think everybody in the theater community has been watching
it, and they use a lot of Broadway personalities."
In Smash, two actresses, played by onetime American Idol
contestant Katherine McPhee and Broadway baby Megan Hilty, compete to
play the role of Marilyn Monroe in a new musical. Real Broadway
songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, who wrote Hairspray, did the songs.
tune that we use is 'Let Me Be Your Star,' and it's actually a
wonderful song, I mean, the music's terrific and the lyrics are great,"
enthuses Alessandrini. "I mean, it's as good as any Broadway showstopper
from 1960, you know?"
But a healthy appreciation for the original doesn't deter him from his satiric mission.
I like to do to the lyrics is turn them inside out — that's the way I
look at them," he says. "How can I take the lyric and sort of be true to
the lyric and yet turn it inside out, or on its ear?"
So "Let Me Be Your Star" has become "Let Me Be Subpar."
Alessandrini has also worked his critique of the TV series into the lyrics.
"Sometimes I wonder, when I'm watching Smash,
I wonder: 'Boy, that doesn't really look like the life I lead living in
New York,' " he says. "I don't know. It doesn't look or sound like it.
But maybe they'll work all that out."
As scathing as Alessandrini's parodies can be, they're all done with a certain amount of love and reverence.
I certainly do love theater and I love Broadway musicals, and I really
love many of the performers that we make fun of constantly, like
Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone — I just adore them. And I try to put
that message on the end of every show, so that there's a sentiment that
at least says, 'Well, if Broadway isn't great now, maybe if we keep our
eye on the prize, it can get better.' "