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Regional Reviews: Seattle

Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits
Lakewood Playhouse
Review by David Edward Hughes


Ashley Roy
Photo by Tim Johnston
Broadway shows and the Great White Way's biggest stars get roasted and toasted at Lakewood Playhouse in Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits, a compendium of selections from the great, long-running, and frequently updated revue with book and lyrics by Gerard Alessandrini that has appeared Off-Broadway and around the world since 1982. Focusing on material that would "play" to audiences outside of New York City, this is amazingly the first time this area has seen an all-local staging of the felicitous parody-laden lark of a show. It is directed with flair and flamboyance by Alison Soma, who has employed a cast that take on celebrity impersonations and long-run show assassinations with zest and zeal.

No Broadway sacred cow is spared from the good-hearted satire. The lengthy act one closing tear on Les Misérables (a show this writer has vowed to never see again, due to its overexposure) remains one of Alessandrini's funniest parodies and the cast shines brightest as an ensemble during this segment. They also excel with "Ambition," the finale, which reworks the tune of Fiddler on the Roof's "Tradition" into a hilarious inside look on the perils of being an actor in New York. Veteran charmer Sharry O'Hare gives her all bemoaning the fact that she hasn't worked since she played Annie when she was ten. She showed such appreciation and love for Carol Channing while ribbing the star's 5,000-plus performances in Hello, Dolly! that, after the great star's passing days after this show began its run, this segment will undoubtedly take on a bittersweet tone for the rest of the run.

O'Hare's spouse and frequent co-star Micheal O'Hara is another stand-out in the company. He and the cast take on the complexities of Sondheim's lyrics in the ingenious "Into the Words" and he does a dead-on take on a younger Mandy Patinkin, wherein he admits to being "Somewhat Overindulgent" (to the tune of "Over the Rainbow", a staple song from Patinkin's early solo recording and concerts). O'Hara's voice is so robust and wide-ranging that he sings "Bring It Down" (aka "Bring Him Home") exceedingly well and yet hilariously, as comment to the song's ridiculous vocal range.

The vibrant Alexis Dyson smashingly leads the Mamma Mia! spoof, while Dawn Padula's Back to Broadway-era Barbra Streisand is a cross-eyed and full-voiced wonder. Katheryne Elliot's Idina Menzel styled delivery of "Defying Gravity" from Wicked is spot-on to the point that I hope she gets to take on that role herself one day. Timothy McFarlan is amusing as West-End/Broadway producer Cameron MacIntosh ("My Souvenir Things"), and Ashley Roy gives a virtual master class on how to satirize a beloved if eccentric star as Liza Minnelli on "Liza One Note." I have never seen any female do Liza this well (and few female impersonators for that matter). Ms. Roy is also responsible for the show's peppy choreography.

Kudos to costumer Lauren Wells for replicating or suggesting the costumes so well. Musical director Benjamin Bentler gets the sweetest sounds out of this cast, and shows that he has the zeitgeist of Broadway powering his fingers at the baby grand.

Grand is indeed the word for this hilarious and spirited musical revue, a perfect fit for the intimate confines of Lakewood Playhouse.

Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits, through February 3, 2019, at the Lakewood Playhouse, in the Lakewood Town Centre, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd SW, Lakewood WA. For specific show times, tickets and more, visit www.lakewoodplayhouse.org.


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