Off-Broadway's Forbidden Broadway has postponed the opening of its latest edition. An unlikely and unpredictable confluence of events resulted in creator-director Gerard Alessandrini having to drop three numbers from the satirical show.
The new edition of FB was to have included comical musical takes about about stage stars Gwen Verdon and Liza Minnelli, as well as the Screen Actors Strike against the commercial producers. Then, in a matter of days, Verdon passed away, the SAG strike was resolved and it was revealed that Minnelli was ailing in a Florida hospital. Alessandrini decided the trio of songs could not run as is. A press spokesperson said the numbers would either be rewritten or changed, and a new opening date would be announced shortly.
Though Forbidden Broadway revue changes its parody songs constantly to stay current with theatre trends, every now and then creator-director Gerard Alessandrini gives the show a full once over, just to acknowledge how much new material has been added. When the show opens its latest installment, it will have been roughly two years since the last overhaul in 1998 (as Forbidden Broadway Cleans Up Its Act!).
In previews since Sept. 7, the latest Forbidden Broadway makes fun of such new Broadway entries as Aida, Swing!, The Music Man and Seussical. The show also changed its title to fit the new millennium: Forbidden Broadway 2001: A Spoof Odyssey. This Forbidden entry features four new cast-members: Charles Bergell, Felicia Finley, Danny Gurwin and FB veteran Christine Pedi. According to production spokespersons at the Pete Sanders press office, this edition will also give a nod to Sarah Brightman's current concert tour, enabling the Phantom sparrow to warble, "Time I Said Goodbye."
The show, designed by Bradley Kaye (sets) and Alvin Colt (costumes) plays at the 187-seat Stardust Theatre downstairs in Ellen's Stardust Diner, next door to the Winter Garden Theatre at Broadway and 51st Street.
FB has played at several locations on Manhattan's upper East Side and upper West Side since its humble beginnings 15 years ago. "We hated to leave the Triad, which, under another name [Steve McGraw's Supper Club], was our original home," said John Freedson in 1997. He co produces FBSB with Harriet Yellen, and Jon Platt. "We left there briefly and then returned," Freedson said. "We loved it on the upper West Side, but for some time we wanted a larger space within striking distance, so to speak, of our targets. It's important to be close to or in the middle of all the gossip on the street.
"The new location, within the theatre district, with its more spacious seating and slightly more upscale menu will, hopefully, give us a higher profile in the theatre district, which is much more frequented by theatre loving tourists than, say, West 72nd Street, where we were. One more attractive thing about the new location is that formerly where we were a destination we have the potential now for 'walk-in' business."
Freedson, who ten years ago was a cast member in the New York and Boston companies (he went on to direct the national and international tours), noted that FBSB has many return customers from among New York's theatre-lovers "but it's also popular with tourists, many of whom haven't seen the shows being poked fun at. It doesn't seem to matter. What's great is that we can be enjoyed by almost anyone who just loves having a good time, courtesy of Gerard's fondness for musical theatre and his vicious wit."
For tickets ($49.50) and information on Forbidden Broadway call (212) 239-6200.
-- By David Lefkowitz