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Forbidden Broadway Goes to Rehab

This final-for-now edition of the 27-year-old series of spoofs works best as a showcase for its four very talented performers. logo
Michael West and Gina Kreiezmar in
Forbidden Broadway Goes to Rehab
(© Carol Rosegg)
Sad to say, Forbidden Broadway Goes to Rehab should more accurately be titled Fordbidden Broadway Goes Away, as writer-creator Gerard Alessandrini has decided to retract his claws and put this 27-year-old series of spoofs on possibly permanent hiatus on January 15. Luckily, there are many good reasons to visit the 47th Street Theatre other than to pay one's last respects, even if Alessandrini isn't going out with his best-ever outing.

In many ways, Rehab is one of Forbidden Broadway's more gentle editions, although the knives have been duly sharpened for a few shows, especially the entire Disney canon. While Young Frankenstein, In The Heights, and oddly enough, August: Osage County (for which Alessandrini cleverly uses Amy Winehouse's pop anthem "Rehab") are at the receiving end of some sharp blows, Alessandrini takes a rather benign (and self-referential) stab at [title of show], barely belittles the nattering nabobs of All That Chat, and even ends the evening with an affectionate salute to Stephen Sondheim.

Its pointed barbs aside, what this edition is really about is showcasing the estimable talents of its four-person cast. I doubt you'll ever see a more spot-on (and admittedly scary) impersonation of the great Patti LuPone than the one Gina Kreiezmar gives in the Gypsy spoof (which concludes with a somewhat predictable "Everything's Coming Up Patti"), and the actress has great fun as well with Liza, Idina, and especially Spring Awakening's Christine Estabrook.

But the show's real revelation is a pint-sized dynamo named Christina Bianco, who amazes in sketch after sketch after sketch. While she looks like no one famous on her own, Bianco precisely captures the voice and mannerisms of such diverse divas as Bebe Neuwirth, Sierra Boggess, Kelli O'Hara, Sutton Foster, Kerry Butler, and Bernadette Peters. Her crowning achievement, however, is her take on Kristin Chenoweth in "Glitter and Be Glib," in which she matches the petite and insanely talented star high note for high note, low note for low note, and squeak for squeak. Indeed, I predict this young actress may soon match Chenoweth's fame -- or at least get the parts she turns down while working in Hollywood.

The men have somewhat fewer chances to shine, but series veterans Jared Bradshaw and Michael West do take advantage of their moments in the spotlight. Bradshaw is particularly funny as an initially shy then brazenly confident Daniel Radcliffe in "Let Me Enter Naked" and fills Cheyenne Jackson's skates and tight shorts quite nicely in "Xanadude." As for West (looking buffer than I recall), he nails James Barbour's singing style in the just-minted A Tale of Two Cities number and channels Harvey Fierstein to a T in "You Can't Stop the Camp."

It's hard to imagine that next September -- or even next spring -- we won't be seeing fresh takes on Billy Elliot or 13 (both of which get brief mentions), not to mention the revivals of Pal Joey and Guys and Dolls. One can only hope Forbidden Broadway eventually emerges from rehab with a clear head, ready to spoof again and make us laugh.

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