Alessandrini’s last entry in this series was already excessively mean-spirited and pessimistic, but this is nothing more than a show-length, scream-down-the-house rant about how much he hates modern Broadway. Seriously, if you set Ethan Mordden’s The Happiest Corpse I’ve Ever Seen to music, this is what it would sound like.
Part of the reason his bitterness is more noticeable here than in the 2001 entry is that here, most of his targets are from the 2003-2004 season, one of the best of the modern era, and shows like Wicked, Assassins, and The Boy From Oz simply don’t merit Alessandrini’s trademark vitriol. He devotes rather a lot of the show to attacking Avenue Q, which is particularly unwise—there is nothing quite so impossible to parody as a comedy that’s funnier than you are, and even in their peak years Alessandrini’s revues weren’t as funny as Avenue Q.
Alesssandrini does, at least, have the decency to give a nod to his own hypocrisy when it comes to attacking The Producers for ‘insulting everybody’. That said, knowledge of his own hypocrisy doesn’t stop him from railing away at other shows ‘recycling material’ (as in the uninspired parody “Everything Old Is Still Old Again’), when several of the segments heard here are, as usual, drawn from earlier incarnations of the franchise.
Making things worse is that, in this incarnation of the revue, the writing itself is significantly less funny than usual—the Fiddler On the Roof parody (one of the aforementioned recycled segments) works well enough, but the rest of the material is seriously hit-or-miss, even when the ideas are sound…for example, in the obvious, heavy-handed number about the Tony competition between the two Wicked leads. Even the impressions are a mixed bag…the burlesque of Bernadette Peters in Gypsy is excellent, and the Wicked leads are done fairly convincingly, but everyone else is doing ridiculous cartoon performances that sound nothing like the people they’re supposed to be impersonating.
Alessandrini also makes it quite clear he’s only interested in going after attention-grabbing targets (i.e. hits); two of the most deserving targets of the time were Brooklyn and Dracula, but the former gets only a passing mention and the latter merely merits a cameo in the Avenue Q segment. Alessandrini closes the show with his obligatory ‘just kidding’ number, here entitled “The Golden Age Is Now”, but this time, it’s so blatantly insincere as to be almost embarrassing.
This is an ugly, mean-spirited and only intermittently funny musical rant that states up front how much its creator truly hates Broadway (“Most new shows are dreck”, goes one line), and unless you also hate Broadway, I don’t imagine you’ll get anything out of it.