Forbidden Broadway is back at the Arsht Center in town through Dec. 26 for another run of parodies of The Great White Way featuring North Miami Beach native Gina Kreiezmar’s patent-pending impersonations of Ethel Merman, Barbara Streisand, Patti LuPone and Liza Minnelli. If the show ever closes, she can take her act to Rising Action Theatre.
Although the Manhattan mothership shut down almost two years ago, the revue survives on tour, in part because most of the shows being lovingly lampooned are staples in presenting/producing houses like the Arsht in national tours.
There’s some material that wasn’t in the rotation when the tour passed through here in 2008, notably a parody that points out that not all the lines rhyme in the rap riffs of In The Heights.
As always, Forbidden recycles reliable material like it was chasing after an award from the Sierra Club, such as the middle-aged, chain-smoking Andrea McArdle singing Tomorrow still dressed up in full Annie drag. Some numbers are showing their age, such as the take-off on Chicago which still references Bebe Neuwirth’s turn in the show 14 years ago. And, admit it, a few of the numbers don’t quite have the zip or the precision of others.
But when Forbidden is at its best, it truly is a festival for theater lovers ‘ the more inside baseball you know, the funnier it is. For instance, there’s a throwaway moment in a send-up of Sondheim’s finale of Sunday in the Park With George in which the composer takes the glasses away from a little girl. Unless you’ve seen the show or the DVD several times, it makes no sense. But for aficionados who recognize the bit of business from the original staging, it’s a hysterical homage of a moment.
There are copious chuckles from parodies of signature songs from Jersey Boys (Walk like man, sing like a girl), Idina Menzel belting out Wicked’s reworked power ballad (Defying Subtlety) and the opening of The Lion King (The Circle of Mice). Mary Poppins is described as ‘practically putrid in every way’ and rips off the birdwoman’s slow lament with ‘Feed the ‘burbs / that’s what they say/ tepid vapid / musicals pay.’
Joining Kreiezmar are William Selby, Jeanne Montano, Craig Laurie and musical director David Caldwell.
If you’ve seen Forbidden Broadway in the past two years, there may not be enough to bring you back. But if it’s been longer, there’s plenty to make you chuckle.