If “Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging!” does not rank among the strongest editions of Gerard Alessandrini’s long-running, much-beloved revue making fun of classic and current Broadway musicals, it still offers a good deal of fun for musical theater aficionados.
Consisting of just four actors and a pianist, “Forbidden Broadway” is considerably smaller in size than the musicals that it parodies but is distinguished by the endless wit of Alessandrini’s lyrics, which are combined with the music from each show.
A handful of songs have been carried over from the 2012 edition and its elaborate, often-seen “Les Miz” sequence has been tweaked to reflect the current revival, but there is plenty of new material tackling newer shows.
Highlights include a skewering of “The Bridges of Madison County” and its songwriter Jason Robert Brown (who is portrayed as a wildly egotistical showboat), a confrontation between Michelle Williams and Liza Minnelli over their interpretations of Sally Bowles in “Cabaret” and a deconstruction of the television broadcast of “The Sound of Music” with Carrie Underwood (“Carrie Underwhelming”).
But many of the other new sketches – including those tackling “Matilda,” “Rocky,” “Bullets Over Broadway,” “Pippin” and “Kinky Boots” – fail to land, perhaps due to an inability to find a proper angle from which to make fun of those shows.
The lack of an opening number before the traditional “Forbidden Broadway” anthem also starts things off on a rather dull note.
The four members of the cast, who portray numerous individuals and undergo countless costume changes, all deliver the required larger-than-life energy, though Marcus Stevens easily stands out with his hilariously detailed renditions of Harvey Fierstein, Mandy Patinkin and others.
In recent years, “Forbidden Broadway” has disappeared for extended periods of hiatus. Should it stick around this time, chances are that it will get better as more musicals open and other targets to parody come into view.
If you go:
“Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging!” plays an open run at the Davenport Theatre. 354 W. 45th St., forbiddenbroadway.com