Forbidden Broadway is a show that parodies everything on Broadway. It began Off-Broadway in 1982 and since then has been rewritten almost every year to include the most up to date shows. It has spawned over a dozen albums and has been seen in cites all around the world.
This version of Forbidden Broadway is like a ‘best of’, and includes numbers from throughout the history of the show. CenterStage picked a hard show to produce for its premier production at their newly refurbished warehouse in Geelong North.
David Greenwood and company should be congratulated for their tireless work over the past year or so. The new Warehouse 26 is fully decked out with meeting rooms and a dance studio, kitchen and also a very impressive mezzanine level to house the main office space and hundreds of neatly hung and sorted costumes. There is also a huge area where sets are kept and built, and then, we move onto the very comfortable rehearsal/ performance space. I can see this as the go-to place for your smaller arty shows that would be too risky to try and put on at one of the more overpriced theatres in Geelong.
The seating was at tables and chairs, and everyone was encouraged to bring along snacks. As the audience came in, the tables piled up with what seemed like a smorgasbord of food. Each ticket also received a free drink from the bar, which was a nice addition. So with drinks and cabana at hand, we settled in for the show.
I need to mention that I was at a preview of the production, and for most companies, this is like the final dress rehearsal where they can iron out any last minute glitches. I believe that CenterStage needed one more night, even before a preview, especially for the sound issues.
As mentioned earlier, Forbidden Broadway is a parody on Broadway shows, including a 30 year old Annie asking for a revival, a dying Eponine at the barricade singing ‘On My Phone’ and taking selfies. A lot of the jokes are with in the words of the songs, but it was difficult to hear a lot of them in act one. That said, act two things improved dramatically. I’ve since been informed that the company has invested in a new sound system and was ready to go for opening night. Sound designer Mitchell Walters will have had his work cut out for him on Friday.
Lighting designer Broadie Stevens made sure everyone was lit adequately on stage. The subtle lighting on each table so everyone could see what they were eating was a nice touch.
Maxine Urquhart did a delightful job with the costumes. Every number was appropriately decked out and the exquisite Dolly gown bought a big smile to my face.
Usually this production has a cast of four people, but CenterStage wisely chose to go with eight cast members. Every one of them worked extremely hard, dashing off for quick costume changes in between numbers.
Some of the highlights of the show were Deanne Elliott as a 30 y/o Annie complete with wine bottle in tow. Elliott was great in every number she was in, including her uncanny Tracey Turnblad. Leanne Treloar-Lowne as Liza Minelli was a show stopper – she had the audience in the palm of her hand. Brendan Rossbotham was brilliant with his Mandy Patinkin in ‘Somewhat Over Indulgent’ (Somewhere Over The Rainbow). Jen Stirks’ ‘Defying Subtlety’ was a definite highlight of the night, and it was a song where Stirk could call on the powers of her huge voice. Every time Stirk took the stage, we were assured that we would be able to hear what she sang.
The “Fiddler on the Roof” parody, with Dale Bradford as Tevye, was also very funny. Jye Cannon and Lachlan Blair were both in their element with the Fosse routine. Cannon and Blair were especially good in Rant! (Rent) – this finale of act one was really strong for the entire cast. Terri Powell as Barbra Streisand was great, except I think her nose needed some work! Trent Inturrisi gave us a believable Phantom and a great Harvey Fierstein. Kate Gore’s Carol Channing was well executed and the choreography was well suited.
The entire cast worked tirelessly throughout the night to bring us a couple of hours of parody and satire.
Bradley Treloar made sure this ensemble sounded tight and as musical director he led the cast from the stage on his piano. Michelle McDowall’s choreography was apt for each genre. From Fiddler to Fosse, McDowall made sure the choreography was authentic for the show, and well executed for the most part.
Scott Graham has put together a great show. CenterStage have set the bar high for their future Warehouse productions.
Forbidden Broadway continues until Nov 14th at The Warehouse, 26 Rodney Road Geelong North. Tickets can be purchased by visiting https://centerstagegeelong.tixato.com/buy/forbidden-broadway