Broadway satire full of yucks, sometimes yucky

Robert Taylor

Forbidden Broadway:SVU

Starring Trista Bestic, Carmen Keels, Brian Marshall and Greg Voland

Directed by William Selbyat Hanna Theatre

Playhouse Square, Cleveland

Running through Dec 2, $39.50 to $44.50

Stater rating (out of five): 3.0

“Forbidden Broadway: SVU” opens with a former child star, still in her old costume, smoking and bellyaching about how she hasn’t had a job since she was Little Orphan Annie. She is subsequently murdered with a machine gun.

The show, which is running at the Hanna Theater in Playhouse Square until Dec. 2, is a wildly uneven jab at all things theater. From “Phantom of the Opera” to “Wicked,” it appears almost no show is safe from satire.

There is no semblance of a plot, just skit after skit performed by four talented actors with varying levels of quality. The show hits its peak early, too early, by poking fun at all things Disney, first the new “Mary Poppins” show by changing the song “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” to something more akin to “Stupidcallous.” — you get the idea.

The biggest laughs come from the troupe’s skits concerning Julie Taymor’s (Across the Universe) “The Lion King” on Broadway, with the actors singing “Can You Feel The Pain Tonight?” while begging the audience for a chiropractor.

Needless to say, it got old rather quickly, and by the end of the first act, the audience may well wish the show would just end before overstaying its welcome. It doesn’t.

If the first act is a little overlong, the second act is a tedious mess, with terribly unfunny skits with Ethel Merman meeting The Phantom of the Opera and creating forced laughs for much too long.

The show is also oddly dated in places, which is surprising since it goes through a makeover every year or so with new skits replacing old ones from shows that have closed on Broadway. There are long parodies about “Fiddler on the Roof” and Julie Andrews that have no place in the musical and leave many in the audience shaking their heads in confusion.

Though most of the big shows on Broadway right now do get spoofed, there are some surprising omissions. With “A Light in the Piazza,” “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “The Color Purple” all making visits to Playhouse Square, it would have been advantageous to use the shows in “Forbidden Broadway: SVU,” but they are nowhere to be seen.

While the show is very uneven and drags when it should soar with humor, it still racks up several guffaws and a few honest-to-goodness belly laughs. The actors shine, and most of their timing and humor is spot on.

Still, with tickets costing anywhere from $40-45 each, I can’t recommend it. Instead, I recommend you save your money and get better tickets for January’s “Avenue Q,” a show about puppets who curse and have sex in New York City. Now that’ll be something to see.

Contact all editor Robert Taylor at [email protected].