Gerard Alessandrini gets fresh inspiration every season for his perennial parodistic revue Forbidden Broadway, and so the show stays fresh, too, wittily and good-naturedly blasting the good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright ridiculous productions that find their way to Broadway each year. The just-ended 1998-99 theatre season provided Mr. Alessandrini, who created this show almost twenty years ago and who writes all of the song parodies that comprise each edition, with lots of swell opportunities.

So we see The Lion King reduced to its Mickey Mouse essence, with a faux Rafiki (brilliantly costumed in found objects by Alvin Colt) celebrating the "Circle of Mice," and then a few of the hapless actors-cum-puppeteers bemoaning their existence in "Can You Feel the Pain Tonight?" We hear Mandy Patinkin mangle the children's song "I've Got a Little Dreidel" in a (dead-on) paean to his Yiddish song cycle Mamaloshen. And we watch the youthful cast of Footloose bounce mindlessly to the tune of their title song, as they ask the deathless (and necessary) question "Why is our poster puce?"

Forbidden Broadway is where we go after we shell out seventy or eighty bucks for a big Broadway musical and then wonder why. When Mr. Alessandrini and his wicked cast and collaborators get things right, the show soars: take the Cabaret segment, for example, which mercilessly gives Tony-winner Alan Cummings the pummeling his super-heated ego deserves. Even when a piece lacks such an obvious target, Forbidden Broadway does its best to find the jugular anyway (cf., The Civil War). The results are sometimes uneven, but you'll never have a bad time.

You don't have to be an afficionado of theatre to appreciate Forbidden Broadway, but it helps. You do need to be aware of what's happening on the Great White Way to get the most from its sometimes too-inside satire. (Hint: bookmark nytheatre.com to stay abreast of the latest hits and debacles.)

The best thing about Forbidden Broadway is that it's always changing, right along with the Broadway scene that it celebrates. This season's crop of musicals--Kiss Me, Kate, Marie Christine, Saturday Night Fever, Martin Guerre, Disney's Aida, and Carol Burnett (not to mention Kathie Lee Gifford) in Putting it Together--should keep Mr. Alessandrini plenty busy. And consequently give us a reason to pay yet another visit to Forbidden Broadway next year.