Chat Transcript: Forbidden Author Gerard Alessandrini
Gerard Alessandrini, creator and director of such hilarious shows as "Forbidden Broadway" and now "Forbidden Hollywood," appeared as a guest in the Playbill On-Line chat room May 6. The chat was hosted by Playbill On-Line Associate Editor Katia Lundy. Here is an edited transcript.
In his newest off-Broadway musical spoof, "Forbidden Hollywood," Alessandrini targets the modern-day mega hits. Isn't any domain safe from his wicked parodies?
Gerard teases Tinseltown turning his stinging satire and hummable hymns from the Great White Way to the Land of the Freeway. The musical sends up a bountiful bevy of silver screen offerings, from "Gone With the Wind" to "Nixon" and from Jim Carrey to James Stewart, Alessandrini leaves no star un-sung.
Much like "Forbidden Broadway," "Forbidden Hollywood" continues to evolve, roasting Hollywood's never ending roster of hits and misses including "Bridges of Madison County," "Pocahontas," "Batman Returns," and "Braveheart." Film stars, including Kevin Costner, Juliette Lewis, Melanie Griffith, Keanu Reaves, Bette Midler and Tom Hanks (as well as legendary ladies Dietrich and Audrey Hepburn, among others) also come in for a delicious drubbing -- while the mega-million dollar "Waterworld" gets truly drenched."Forbidden Hollywood" is playing at the Triad Theatre (158 West 72nd Street). For ticket information and reservations call (212) 799-4599.
And now, please welcome Gerard Alessandrini!
Gerard Alessandrini: Hi Katia, it's wonderful to be here.
Playbill On-Line: Many people (I won't mention any names) have said that you are a wild and crazy guy. Is this true?
Gerard Alessandrini: Well as far as working on "Forbidden B'way" & "Forbidden Hollywood" I guess I am. Others have told me I'm sedate and low key, but I guess many people go by what they see on stage.
Playbill On-Line: Q from Carlwhitt
Question: Is this really emanating from Hollywood, California?
Gerard Alessandrini: Yes, we began the production in CA and produced it there. We tried it in LA, San Diego...in that sense it comes from Hollywood. In another sense, We are not true Hollywood types. It was also true of "Forbidden B'way," I was not part of the B'way scene either.
Playbill On-Line: MontyCrst asks:
Question: What's your opinion of Emilio Estavez' epic "Men at Work?"
Gerard Alessandrini: I always thought, it didn't make much of an impression on me at all. Did you like it?
Playbill On-Line: Where do you get your inspiration for your comical selections?
Gerard Alessandrini: It's very hard, I try to think what I want to write about or what needs to be written about and then I try to go through songs and ideas that would be funny takes on that. For example, Sharon Stone or Kevin Costner and then I try different ways to do it that would be funny. It's often not inspiration but trial and error.
Playbill On-Line: What's your next target? Politics perhaps?
Gerard Alessandrini: No, I think the next thing I want to do is a legitimate musical with a story line. I don't think I would want to do a political spoof because it changes so rapidly. Mark Russell does it...I think he's a genius at it and I wouldn't want to compete with him. I would love to do a new "Forbidden B'way" with "Rent," "Victor/Victoria," "Master Class"...The new shows
Playbill On-Line: Question from Sol 7
Question: How did it all start?
Gerard Alessandrini: "Forbidden B'way" started by accident. As a performer and a writer I wanted to do a show for myself. I've always written parodies. Originally I put it together myself. I'm sort of a self starter.
Playbill On-Line: Q from DinasT
Question: Did you study theatre? What school did you attend?
Gerard Alessandrini: Yes I studied Theatre, Music and Dance at Boston Conservatory
Playbill On-Line: I think your show is extremely funny. What would it take to get your show on B'way?
Gerard Alessandrini: Thank you for liking the show. I think it doesn't belong on B'way. It's subversive for B'way. It's sort of undergroundish. You feel like saying something naughty. And also, it's fun in a smaller theatre, you feel like you're part of a party. So even though I would love to have a show on B'way, "FB" & "FH" is better off-B'way because it's a little naughty and not mainstream.
Playbill On-Line: AdrianM1
Question: I saw "FH," Oct. 12, 95 and loved it. What are your plans for "FH" now?
Gerard Alessandrini: We have a lot of plans. First of all, we are opening in Toronto June 1. We are opening in Kansas City with "FH" in a few weeks. We'll be doing a production in Johannesburg South Africa later this summer and then we'll be re-opening in the Los Angeles area at the Glendale Theatre July 10th. In the Future we hope to keep it updated and also do a video version for TV. And of course we'll continue to play NY in the summer.
Playbill On-Line: AdrianM1
Question: What is your favorite "skit" in "FH"? Do you have one?
Gerard Alessandrini: Yeah, I have a couple which I can't decide which I like better I like the Sharon Stone one we do to "Raw Hide" and I like the number where Barbara Streisand and Louie Armstrong fight over the song in "Hello, Dolly!" I like the skit, not the song. The only reason I find our skit funny is that I don't like Barbara in "Hello, Dolly!"
Playbill On-Line: From MACAVITY9
Question: In the "Forbidden Broadway" series why isn't there a parody of songs from "Cats." I think with your great ability the song would be awesome.
Gerard Alessandrini: In the actual performance of "FB," there is a spoof of "Cats" we did for many years. On the CD however, there's no spoof of "Cats." It started with the song "Memory (remember when actors played humans), now to bring home the paycheck, they dress you in fur..." That's the name of the song and then it went into a parody of the song "I Enjoy Being a Girl" but the parody was "I Enjoy Being a Cat." We were never able to put it on the cast album because of rights problems from Andrew Lloyd Webber and the Rodgers & Hammerstein folks. But we did perform it in the show every night. We had permission to do that.
Playbill On-Line: Q from FireyFyre
Question: You always manage to have the grooviest casts. Which cast member is the most lovely to work with? (My personal favorites are Christine Pedi and Dorothy Kiara)
Gerard Alessandrini: I put Christine right on top...she's a doll to work with and excellent in everything she does. And by the way she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for "FH" this year. So many people must agree with you and me. Dorothy is also one of the best performers we've ever had and also a lovely girl. She's also an old and dear friend of mine. We went to college together. Some of my other favorites are Jason Graae, Susan Blakesley and there's just too many to name. There's about a core of 20 performers that I love working with both with "FB" & "FH"
Question: Have you had any problems with the people that you "made fun of" ?
Gerard Alessandrini: No, nobody has ever complained to us or given us any problems...suprisingly enough. As a matter of fact, as far as the B'way stars go,
almost all of the people love to see themselves parodied in the show. And now, the movie stars are coming too. For example, Whoopi Goldberg came to see our parodies in "FH." She seemed really charmed by the whole show. I guess there are a lot of good sports in the theatre and film industry
Question: I always find the parodies of my favorite shows and performers the funniest. I remember reading that the B'way performers loved being parodied. What do the Hollywood actors think so far?
Gerard Alessandrini: Yes they do, the Hollywood actors love it too. Refer to the above Q&A.
Playbill On-Line: From FireyFyre
Question: Where do you get inspiration for all your crazy lyrics?
Gerard Alessandrini: You know...I watch a lot of movies and listen to a lot of cast albums and old movie soundtracks.
Question: I saw credits on the cast albums that you sometimes perform as well. Do you do this just for the CD or do you actually perform in the shows as well?
Gerard Alessandrini: I've actually performed in the shows. I was in the show originally in the first 2 years of its existence and I've stepped in at various times. Not as much lately because I've been working on "FH" & "FB." But I really enjoy performing.
Playbill On-Line: FireyFyre is back with this:
Comment: Hey, if you ever do another "FH" (volume 2 and you need a Christina Ricci (Wednesday Addams) look-alike, give me a call.
Gerard Alessandrini: Thank you very much and I'll remember that.
Comment: I remember speaking to Lea Salonga and she told me it was like an honor to be parodied.
Gerard Alessandrini: That's really nice to hear that. We certainly parodied her and we certainly love her. I enjoy it very much. We had some good laughs at her expense. I'm glad to hear that.
Playbill On-Line: Q from Jenbehn
Question: Do you hire performers for their impersonating abilities, or do THEY inspire the parodies?
Gerard Alessandrini: It's important that they have some impersonating abilities. It's even more important that they are good singers. It is a musical after all. And they must be good comics. But frequently, if there's some kind of specialty they can do, I will write a particular skit just for them. For Ex. Christine Pedi currently in "FH," did a very good Rosie Perez and Liza Minelli so I wrote those 2 numbers especially for her.
Question: I loved your Patti LuPone parodies. She is my favorite performer. Any plans to include "her" in any future works?
Gerard Alessandrini: I agree completely...she's one of my favorite performers too. And I love making fun of her and the more shows she does, I will continue to make fun of her. Of course my favorite parody of her is the "Anything Goes" parody
Comment: I thought you'd like to know I was at the Lincoln Center Library, and "I Could Have Danced All Night" was playing, and I found myself muttering "I Couldn't Hit The Note".
Gerard Alessandrini: Thanks very much, I think that's good...hmmm, I'm not sure. LOL
Playbill On-Line: From AdrianM1
Comment: I'm an actor and a writer and I just wanted to say that all your work is inspirational and very funny. You have developed a loyal following. Keep up the good work and terrific lyrics.
Gerard Alessandrini: Thank you very, very much (blushing). It's nice to be appreciated by a fellow writer and very encouraging to hear that. I wish you all the best in your work
Playbill On-Line: We are just about out of time. Any closing statements Gerard?
Gerard Alessandrini: I'm very happy that so many people are interested in "Forbidden Hollywood" & "Forbidden Broadway" and that so many people out there really have a good sense of humor. I hope I haven't ruined too many songs for people. I couldn't have written the parodies if the real songs weren't excellent in the first place. Thank you everybody for your interest. Come see "Forbidden Hollywood." And "Forbidden Broadway" when it comes back to NY!
Playbill On-Line: Thanks a mill, Gerard!
Playbill On-Line: "Forbidden Hollywood" is playing at the Triad Theatre (158 West 72nd Street). For ticket information and reservations call (212) 799-4599.
Playbill On-Line: Did you know? You can now order Broadway and Off-Broadway tickets right from your computer! Check out keyword Playbill -- your premiere theatre information source -- for more details.
Gerard Alessandrini: Good Night!!