This was meant to be the final installment of the Forbidden Broadway series, and the entire review is built around Gerard Alessandrini’s grand statement that Broadway is supposedly no longer worthy of being insulted by him (this is nothing new, by the way…even in his Eighties heyday he was constantly threatening to quit).
It’s just one long rant about how a few hit revivals and the fact that people are adapting movies (as if all musicals in the ‘Golden Age’ were originals) means that all creativity in the art form is supposedly dead. Yep, that stale, uninspired rehashing of the same old stuff sure is awful when other people do it, eh, guy-who-reuses-several-old-segments-in-each-new-show?
Frankly, this is the most uninspired collection of songs out of any Forbidden Broadway edition yet. We get a barely-relevant song about internet chatrooms with jokes that everyone had heard a thousand times by 2009; a Mary Poppins parody featuring yet more paranoid conspiracy rants about Disney; an In the Heights parody explaining how it’s ‘exactly like West Side Story’ (for those who haven’t seen it, it isn’t); a witless, heavy-handed joke about Daniel Radcliffe’s onstage nudity in Equus; yet another tired Patti LuPone parody (Gerard honey, there’s such a thing as beating a dead horse); and a final exhortation, bordering on a demand, for Sondheim to start writing new shows again, which was probably intended as a tribute but comes off as almost belligerent.
In Rude Awakening, Alessandrini may have stopped trying to tell jokes, but at least you got the impression that he was enjoying spewing his vitriol. Here, he doesn’t seem to be having any better of a time than the audience. He seems so discouraged and depressed by all the imaginary faults he’s read into modern Broadway that you almost feel sorry for him. And his comic faculties have declined to the point where he can’t even get laughs with a parody of Young Frankenstein, of all things (seriously, “Puttin’ On the Ritz” into “Puttin’ Up With Shit”? I’ve written better song parodies that that!).
The impressionists are better than the last time out, with capable impersonations of Patti Lupone and Kristen Chenoweth, but they just can’t do anything with this dead-on-arrival self-pitying moping disguised as satire. Sad as it is, I still wish I could tell you that this was the end of the story, but nobody got Alessandrini’s vow of retirement in legally binding print, so he was back again three years later. I’d like to close by asking Mr. Alessandrini, on the off-chance that he ever reads this: what really ran out of ideas and devolved into soulless repetition—Broadway, or you?