Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back!, the successful new edition of Gerard Alessandrini's satirical Forbidden Broadway revue series, moves June 26 to the very heart of its target, Broadway. It's new home is the 187-seat Stardust Theatre downstairs in Ellen's Stardust Diner, next door to the Winter Garden Theatre at Broadway and 51st Street.
The special kick-off promotion the show planned for Wednesday afternoon June 25, feautring a free concert and an appearance by Carol Channing, the Broadway icon spoofed in so many FB editions, has been canceled because the New York City Police Department would not issue a permit for the outdoor event. A press spokesman for the show thought the police refusal to issue the permit might have something to do with the ire caused last week when Broadway was closed to traffic in the vicinity of the Winter Garden for the Cats celebration.
FB shas played at several locations on Manhattan's upper East Side and upper West Side since its humble beginnings 15 years ago. The new cabaret-style, 187-seat theatre is located at Broadway and 51st Street, downstairs in Ellen's Stardust Diner, right next door to the Winter Garden Theatre and Cats, not only Broadway's champion long-run hit but also the recipient of some of Alessandrini's most creative barbs through the years.
The new location is in a restaurant that's a haven for tourists who love corn with their corned beef. Along with the 1950s diner atmosphere and the famous extra thick milk shakes, there are singing hosts and wait staff (even intentionally bad jokes from the stand-up comic).
"We hated to leave the Triad, which, under another name, was our original home," said John Freedson, who co-produces FBSB with Harriet Yellen, and Jon Platt. "We left there briefly and then returned. 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 fondess for musical theater and his vicious wit."
The move gives the show an additional 57 seats, a deeper stage with more wing space, and more comfortable dressing rooms. An updated show contains some new material hot out of the new musicals and off the gossip pages.
Only two days before his new opening, Alessandrini was at the piano working on a new sketch about the incident involving "Vicious Victoria" or "Raqula," as he refers to to the headline-making sex-symbol Raquel Welch, now starring in Victor/Victoria.
Alessandrini also assured Playbill On-Line that "there'll be some new sparks flying" on the season just ended with sketches on the soon-to-close Steel Pier, Dream, and The Life. FBSB's Christine Pedi will take on Rosie O'Donnell hosting the Tony Awards; and Tom Plotkin will be unvieled as Robert Cuccioli in a hair flipping bit as Jekyll & Hyde in a duet/duel of "Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)." There are no sacred cows. Alessandrini is also working on a Titanic sketch to be inserted in the near future.
A production source at the Tony-winning Best Musical was relived to learn about the sketch involving Titanic. "To be left out of Forbidden Broadway would be a fate worse than being on a sinking ship."
-- By Ellis Nassour