Forbidden Broadway - 2 August 2014 Review

Stagey as can be!

Being a regular week night theatregoer, It is a very rare opportunity for me to see a show on a Saturday Matinee! “What genuine luscious joy,” I thought to myself whilst arranging a pre-theatre lunch at Bills with my friend (time to EAT before a show is also a novelty!) And I have to say, I had a fabulous Saturday afternoon watching Forbidden Broadway at the lovely Menier Chocolate Factory.

I suppose it would be rather obvious to state that I am an avid theatregoer and have seen pretty much every musical that is currently running on the West End…i.e I am the target audience for Forbidden Broadway and posses the ability to “get” all jokes. Hurrah!

The show, formed off Broadway in 1982, has returned to London for a special UK edition of the show. It parodies current shows such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Miss Saigon, Les Mis, Phantom etc as well as throwing in a few well known theatrical figures such as Idina Menzel (Adele Dazeem!) Liza Minelli and July Andrews. #StageyAndProud.

As a four hander, actors Damien Humbley, Anna-Jane Casey, Sophie Louise Dann and Ben Lewis do very well as a comic chorus, impressionists and as performers in their own right. Dann, for instance, performs a hilariously gurgling Elaine Page (On Sunday!) and angry Czech Woman in Once (I almost weed during that one!) Similarly Casey offers great comedy as Liza Minnelli, Fantine of Les Miserables and Idina Menzel “Defying Subtlety” (although I was less keen on her later Menzel quips.) The two girls are fantastic comediennes and there is beautiful irony in the realisation that the pair could legitimately play any of the roles they are satirising.

Humbly and Lewis are amusing throughout the show, providing plenty of zeal and comic timing, but never quite wow the audience with their vocal talent in the same way the ladies do.

My only real problem with “comic” shows, and this has always been the case, is that I know I am there to laugh, which in itself is a strange and weirdly forced concept. Worse yet are shows that bill themselves as being funny yet fail to hit the spot for you, leaving you feeling a cringey kind of high and dry. Luckily Forbidden Broadway managed to tickle my ribs pretty consistently and at times that I was slightly less amused (it’s just a matter of taste I suppose) I still had great respect for the four really solid performers.

There is absolutely no denying that, for stagey Sallys like me, this show is a hoot. It is 2 hours of solid theatrical fun, and if you are into that then you will have a blast. However I imagine if your knowledge of musicals is slim, so too will be your enjoyment. That said, I’d love for a complete musical theatre novice to prove me wrong.

Forbidden Broadway London Review
2 August 2014, Menier Chocolate Factory