Review: 'Forbidden Broadway: Greatest Hits' at Town Players of New Canaan

James Cooper

  • OnStage Connecticut Critic 

The New Canaan Town Players closed their excellent season with Gerard Allesandrini’s “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits,” a compilation of some of the best spoofs from Allesandrini’s long-running “Forbidden Broadway”  satiric review (it opened in 1982).

The show, directed by Sheri Dean, with musical direction by Ben McCormack (who also accompanies) features six talented actor-singers playing dozens of roles, including Liza Minelli, Chita Rviera, Carol Channing, a devastating song about Mandy Patinkin, Cameron MacIntosh, Barbra Streisand and Harvey Fierstein.

They also manage to spoof (mostly gently) Chicago, Annie, Wicked, endless Les Miz songs, Phantom, Mamma Mia, Spamalot, Cats (of course), Fiddler, Rent and Hairspray. Thewell-deserved barbs the show throws at A Chorus Line are far from gentle.

It wouldn’t be fair to give away the jokes in this satiric review, but the talented cast: Stephen DiRocco, Emily Hull, Terry LeBel, Lauren Linn, Kellen Schult and Valerie Torphy use all the talents and a huge number of gorgeous costumes created by Debbie Runestad to amuse us all evening. In fact, some of the costume changes are lightning fast, and entertaining themselves.

Particularly of note was Lauren Linn in an unexpected entrance as Ethel Merman, and Steve DiRocco’s delightful sendup of Mandy Patinkin. Terry LeBel was perfect as a Carol Channing who had gone on too long, and Kellen Schult in “It’s too High.” Valerie Torphy nailed Liza Minelli in a devastating sketch, and Emily Hull was terrific as Idina Menzel in you-know-what.

MusicDirector Ben McCormack played ably some fairly complex music in a myriad of styles as the cast cavorted. While much of the singing was, of course, Broadway brassy, there were some lovely ensemble moments when you realized that all these actor/singers really could sing, and very well indeed.

You will probably recognize almost every show they satirize as it comes up, but one left me completely puzzled: “Seasons of Hype” until I consulted the program to find it was spoofing “Rent,” which I’ve never bothered to see. Overall, this review is a terrific end to their season. It runs through August 20 at the Powerhouse Theater in Waveny Park in New Canaan. It’s a great evening out, and if you want to go out afterwards, it’s over by about 9:30. Let’s hope the cast does the same. They deserve it!

Photo: Valerie Torphy, Kellen Schult, Terry LeBel, Emily Hull, Stepehen DiRocco, and Lauren Linn