Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
How many times have you seen Forbidden Broadway? How many times have I seen Forbidden Broadway? Never enough. On a recent evening, with a packed house, it was yet another evening of sheer theatre heaven in a fast-paced (to put it mildly) two-act, two hours of the Forbidden Broadway: 35th Anniversary Tour.
Living in South Florida, we have not had an opportunity to see Matilda and, as a result, the bit on that show receives nowhere near the hysterics that "I'm 30 years old ... tomorrow" from Annie gets. That's the inherent problem when you take the show on the roadin other words, anywhere out of Manhattan.
Luckily, I would estimate that 85-90% of the show consists of ever-riotous Forbidden Broadway chestnuts. We have Sarah Brightman, Robert Goulet, Ethel Merman, et al. Gina Kreiezmar, who steals the show as Ethel Merman, is a hoot. But her "Liza One Note" as the penultimate finale, brings the house down. From the frenzied "vibrato-less" singing to the mushy "essshes" instead of "s's," her imperssshhhhonation is priceless. We also have the wonderful turntable-laden Les Miz. I/we have probably seen that one too many times, but it gets funnier and funnier with each viewing. Just watch the wonderful Kevin B. McGlynn try to grab the microphone with each revolution.
In addition to the sublime Ms. Kreiezmar and Mr. McGlynn, we have two Forbidden stalwarts: Edward Staudenmayer and Jeanne Montano. Both have been doing the show, literally, for decades, but they and the other actors are as fresh as on an opening night. Montano does a fine Bebe Neuwirth in Chicago, and is great in the Matilda piece. Staudenmayer is genius in every single thing he does, but for my money his Goulet is priceless.
The fifth member of the onstage team is the wonderful piano accompanist, Catherine Stornetta. And mention must be made of the deliriously goofy (and perfect) costumes of Alvin Colt and the subtle and perfect choreography of Phillip George. Mr. George and the shows creator, Gerard Alessandrini, co-direct to perfection.
So, what this edition boils down to is, essentially, a "best of" collectionand, in my humble opinion, there is none better.
Forbidden Broadway: 35th Anniversary Tour runs through December 31, 2016, at the Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm beach, FL. 33401. You may call 561-832-7469 or visit Kravis.org for tickets.