‘Forbidden Broadway’ to stop at the Egyptian Theatre
November 6, 2012
Many people like to have fun and create their own lyrics to pop songs.
The late Spike Jones, who wrote "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth," did it with Vaughn Monroe’s "Ghost Riders in the Sky" and Rimsky-Korsakov’s "Flight of the Bumblebee."
"Weird Al" Yankovic has made a Grammy Award-laced career out of poking fun of artists from the late Michael Jackson to Coolio and Don McLean, and Richard Cheese puts his parodies, which includes John Williams’ "Empire Strikes Back" and 2 Live Crew’s "Me So Horny" in a lounge-lizard, piano setting.
Nearly 30 years ago, an unemployed New York Actor, Gerard Allesandrini, started writing parodies of tunes from award-wining musicals such as "Camelot," "Annie" and "Cats."
He started performing these songs under the moniker "Forbidden Broadway" with his friends in a little dinner theatre, one thing led to another and the show found itself on the Great White Way, winning nine Drama Desk awards, a special Tony, an Obie, a Lucille Lortel and Drama League award, said Catherine Stornetta, pianist and musical director of the production that will come to the Egyptian Theatre this week.
"He wrote some specifically funny tunes, which got him a little notice, and the rest is, you know, history," Stornetta said during an interview with The Park Record.
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Over the course of time, "Forbidden Broadway" has spoofed anything and anyone who has appeared on Broadway, including some off-Broadway shows and recordings.
"Actors in New York are always creating little shows so people can see them, which may or may not lead to them being cast in other productions," Stornetta said. "This show, which just reopened in New York, has been running off and on for 25 years or so."
Stornetta has been involved with "Forbidden Broadway" for 20 years, and, she says, loves it because it never gets old.
"The great thing about this show is the fact that it’s different all the time, because there are so many numbers that have been written that are subbed in and subbed out," she said.
"The repertoire covers basically the history of Broadway and we are doing 24 numbers in Park City. A couple of them are a spoof of a single show and will feature two or three songs, while the other pieces are spoofs on people and personalities who were well-known in musical theatre."
The Park City show will include a parody of "Jersey Boys," "Beauty and the Beast," "Les Miserables," "Wicked" and "Cats," Stornetta said.
"We’re doing a Carol Channing number and spoofing ‘Chicago,’ ‘Annie,’ ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera,’" she said. "When we take the show on the road, we like to include the numbers that are very popular for those who see the Broadway tours that have come through their town ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘The Lion King’ come to mind. We are basically doing a greatest hits version for the roadshow."
This week’s performances will also include selections about Sarah Brightman, Mandy Patinkin and Robert Goulet, Stornetta said.
"Another segment is about Yoko Ono, which stemmed from the jukebox-musical called ‘Let It Be,’" she said.
A jukebox musical is a production based on the song categories of pop bands and include productions such as the Abba-influenced "Mama Mia" and the Billy Joel-inspired "Movin’ Out."
"In fact, our Yoko Ono parody is a spoof of the whole jukebox musical genre," Stornetta said. "We have an actress that does a great impression of Yoko Ono, who is funny anyway, even when she’s just standing there.
"I don’t mean that in any way, shape or form as a racist comment," Stornetta said after a short pause. "I realized as I was saying that previous sentence that I was talking to a Japanese-American man and I hope I didn’t offend him."
When Stornetta joined the "Forbidden Broadway" family as pianist, she found there wasn’t an official score to study.
"It was entirely an auditory audition," she said. "I learned everything just by ear or by looking at the music of the original Broadway productions."
Nowdays, playing these works for a live audience is something Stornetta has fallen in love with.
"I love it when people laugh," she said. "One of the first times we did this show, we were doing a parody of ‘Guys & Dolls,’ and I don’t think we were sold out. I was jumpy and jittery and playing in the dark, but the roar of laughter moved from the left side of the house to the right side. It was awesome."
Another reward is the touring.
"I’ve been to Japan a couple of times and we toured in Tokyo, Fukuoka and Kobe," said Stornetta, whose favorite musical is "Sweeney Todd. "I think I’m the luckiest person in the world. In addition to Japan, I’ve been to Australia and Africa, and periodically, I have to pinch myself."
Stornetta was excited to hear the production was going to make a stop in Park City.
"I wanted to go skiing so badly, but then I was crushed when I found out that we weren’t coming during ski season," she said. "Maybe next time."
The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., will present "Forbidden Broadway" a musical spoof from Thursday, Nov. 8, through Sunday, Nov. 11. Evening curtain for Thursday, Friday and Saturday is 8 p.m. Sunday’s performance will start at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $22 to $45 and are available at http://www.parkcityshows.com.