Spotlight On
Gerard Alessandrini

by Nancy Rosati              

NR:  When youíre casting Forbidden Broadway, what do you look for in the actors? It seems as if they have to be able to do everything.

Spoof Cast
Felicia Finley, Tony Nation, Christine Pedi, Danny Gurwin from Forbidden Broadway 2001: A Spoof Odyssey
GA:  They have to be funny and they have to have great voices. They have to have a wide range of vocal ability. Think of all the different vocal styles on Broadway, from Rent to The Producers. They have to do a wide range.

NR:  Somehow you find a lot of people who can do that. Thatís pretty amazing.

GA:  Well, a lot of young actors are very well trained. Sometimes Iíll keep my eye out for talent. For example, Clif Thorn, who played Mr. President - Iíve been wanting to work with him for years. There are people I see in shows, or have auditioned, that we have in mind for years. Sometimes Iíll see them in a series of shows and Iíll think, ďThat person would be great for Forbidden Broadway. Iíve seen him in seven shows. Heís really good in this way and heís a good actor in that way. He probably has a good comic sense. He has a good voice.Ē So, Iíll ask him to be in the show. I donít always audition people.

NR:  Do they have to be mimics?

GA:  No, they donít have to be mimics. They have to have a good ear. You can always teach them to mimic and you can always be selective about what they mimic.

NR:  How many times do they see a show? Some of them have it down so well.

GA:  Thatís true. Some of the actors do their homework better than others. The ones who go to a show and research it and watch videos and stuff do it better.

NR:  It seems as if itís a tough preparation because theyíre doing so many things so fast. Theyíre changing characters rapidly.

Forbidden Broadway #6GA:  Itís very hard to do. You canít do it if youíre too young or too old. You have to be young enough to do the physical bit of singing and changing and you have to be old enough to have the experience to draw on those characters. Itís quite a stretch. Itís probably the hardest show a lot of them have done. But if it really pays off, it looks good. It looks good because itís hard.

NR:  Youíre pretty much forced to do a new version every couple of years. How difficult is that?

GA:  Itís so nice to see a new version when everything is up to date. Itís very topical. I want to make it topical because when you come back in a few months, itís not as shiny as it was. Itís not as much fun, so I want to put in something from the new shows.

NR:  How demanding is that? You finally get a number, and itís great, and then that show closes.

Forbidden Broadway #7GA:  It can be a problem sometimes. (laughing) But then there are those shows that run for fifteen years!

NR:  Are you going to keep doing this? Are you going to constantly have new versions?

GA:  We have our 20th anniversary coming up and we certainly want to go till then.

NR:  I know you have a CD out for your 20th anniversary. I guess you were sort of pushing it?

GA:  Yes, it kind of came out by accident. We thought it would take us about a year to put it together, but it didnít. It took us about four weeks so it came out early. When it was ready to come out I thought weíd made a mistake, and we really did. There are some good numbers in the 2001 version that should have been on the 20th anniversary one. I guess weíre just moving too fast to keep up with ourselves.

NR:  Do you miss performing?

GA:  Sometimes. Not when itís hard for them, but when it seems glorious and fun I do.

NR:  Do you ever fill in now?

Forbidden HollywoodGA:  No, not for years. You really have to study the tracks. You canít just step in. Iím not very good about remembering all of the lines Iíve written because there are so many versions in my head.

NR:  What else is in your future?

GA:  We hope to do another funny show like Mr. President. And maybe that Les Miz evening. Thatís all on the front burner right now.