Broadway's biggest hits and flops – amongst them many West End transfers – as well as its brightest stars are irreverently panned, poked, lampooned and lambasted, while set to the tunes of a medley of favourite showstoppers. Hairspray, Rent, Spring Awakening, Wicked, The Lion King, Chicago, Beauty and the Beast, Annie, Into the Woods, The Sound of Music, Cabaret, Cats and Les Miserables have all received the Forbidden treatment over the years.
Conceived and written by Gerard Alessandrini (who, at the time, was an out-of-work actor) and co-directed by Phillip George, Forbidden Broadway premiered in 1982 in New York, where it became a long-running – and continuously updated - Theatreland institution. In 1997, Alessandrini received the Drama League Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre, and in 2006, the show itself won a special Tony Award.
In the West End, Forbidden Broadway was first seen in 1989 at the Fortune Theatre, where it ran for two-and-a-half months. Ten years later, it was mounted at the fringe Jermyn Street Theatre before transferring to the West End’s Albery Theatre (now the Noel Coward) for a month (See News, 8 Mar 1999).
Ten years on again, some of the names involved in the 1999 production – including producer David Babani, who is now artistic director of the Menier Chocolate Factory, and actress Sophie-Louise Dann – have reunited for this latest incarnation. In this updated version of Forbidden Broadway, created specially for the Menier, Dann is joined in the four-strong company by Anna-Jane Casey, Alasdair Harvey and Steven Kynman.
The new production is designed by Morgan Large, with costumes by Alvin Colt, lighting by David Howe and musical direction by Joel Fram. It’s presented in association with John Freedson and Harriet Yellin.
- by Terri Paddock