Tuesday, 16 September 2014

REVIEW: Forbidden Broadway at the Vaudeville Theatre

Forbidden Broadway basically takes the piss of Broadway and West End shows. I couldn’t think of another way to describe it! But fear not, its not really rude or offensive (well.. it is, but in a funny way!). An edition of the show made its West End premiere in 1999, and on Broadway in 1982. It had a run at the Menier Chocolate Factory back in 2009 and this year returned to the theatre. Its now transferred to the West End and is playing at the Vaudeville Theatre. 

This show is filled with bold, laugh out loud numbers, from ‘The Show with No Imagination’ to ‘One Note Liza’. Forbidden Broadway is the show that says it how it is, for example I’ve never seen or heard someone sum up Once in a better way! Being, whats seems, one of the very few people that didn’t enjoy the Once in the West End, I absolutely howled at this section. Also, I loved the Matilda/Child Actor section! “My Daddy says I’m a triple threat” has to be one of my favourite lines from the production!

I howled laughing at this show! If you love musical theatre then THIS is your kind of show. You can tell some of the material in the show is a little old but none of it is necessarily out of date.

I was a little baffled by the microphone stands the performers used on stage, I have no idea whether they worked or not but it didn't really matter because they all seemed to have radio microphones on anyway so that seemed a little pointless. Something else I felt was a little over the line was the section on Madalena Alberto, I’m not sure she is famous enough to be spoofed in that way although I’m sure it was harmless but it did feel a little wrong to make fun of someone who isn’t really a huge name like Elaine Paige or Cameron Mackintosh in musical theatre. Felt like more of a personal attack. 

Some numbers felt a little out of place with the English audience, I understand its Forbidden BROADWAY but that doesn’t mean you can’t relate it to a West End audience, the majority of the show was spot on however I feel like it could have been catered more to the London audience. Chita/Rita was brilliant but probably more relevant to an American audience than a London one. 

Anna-Jane Casey is an incredible talent, she belts the house down with the alternate version of Defying Gravity and does one of the best Liza’s I’ve ever seen! And I’ve seen quite a few! Her comic timing is completely in-tune and she is a joy to watch. A total natural at capturing the audience. 

Ben Lewis and Damian Humbley are adorable together, especially in The Book of Mormon sketch. Lewis has vocals that anyone would kill for and handles the comedy with a lightness that's wonderful and funny to watch. 

Damian Humbley is one of the most underrated West End actors out there, I’ve seen him in a few things and he sticks out as someone who has never disappointed. A wonderful actor who has lungs of steel! If you see it just for his Rafiki, then you’ll get your moneys worth! 

YouTube impressionist sensation, Christina Bianco joins the cast for the West End run and by God is she great! Her impressions of Bernadette Peters and Kristin Chenoweth are absolutely spot on and have you gasping for air. I’m actually surprised with how much vocal versatility she showed in the show, this entire cast are Musical Theatre Gold! 

This is a brilliant show, if you love musical theatre then you HAVE to catch this show before it closes. I do, however, wonder how the general public will react to this show. You don’t really have to have seen every show spoofed in the production but you do have to have a general knowledge about them all. Its not really a show for tourists or someone looking for a nice night at the theatre, maybe go for the popular ones like Wicked or Phantom for that. But if you want a funny, stagey night out where you leave with the feeling you’ve done an hour abs session at the gym, then this is your show! 

Forbidden Broadway - The show every stagey in the land must see! 

Rating: ★★★

Forbidden Broadway is currently playing at the Vaudeville Theatre until the 22nd November 2014 

Cast includes: Christina Bianco, Anna-Jane Casey, Damian Humbley, Ben Lewis, Joel Fram (Musical Director), Laura Tebbutt & Joseph Prouse. 

Photo Credit: Alastair Muir
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