Song & Stage

Theater Review: ‘Forbidden Broadway’ Delights at the Gateway Playhouse

The Gateway's latest production will have you rolling on the floor laughing.

The second show in The Gateway’s summer season, Forbidden Broadway, is not your typical musical, and that’s what makes it a must-see, especially if you’re a fan of theater or are in need of a good belly laugh. Forbidden Broadway is written and directed by Gerard Alessandrini, who joins Gateway for this spectacular rendition, with a script he’s re-written more than a dozen times over the last few decades.

Known as the “Fall-Down Funny Roast of Broadway,” Forbidden Broadway is a take-no-prisoners parody of all your favorite Broadway hits. The clever tongue-in-cheek score has you hanging on each line. Alessandrini is a master of parody lyrics—swapping words for ones that will have you either giggling or full-blown laughing out loud, with tears of hilarity streaming down your face.

The cast consists of four performers who portray countless characters from over two dozen of the best-known Broadway shows. It’s amazing how each cast member can seamlessly transition from one scene to the next—from singing re-worded tunes from Mamma Mia! to poking fun at the costumes of The Lion King— never missing a beat. Their infectious energy will keep you enthralled, and even the absence of a true plot will not deter from the enjoyment of the music—because at the heart of the show, the music is what it’s all about.

Mia Gentile as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Gateway's
Mia Gentile as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Gateway’s “Forbidden Broadway,” Photo: Jeff Bellante

A huge kudos to this amazing cast: Chris Collins-Pisano, Bill Coyne, Mia Gentile and Keri Safran, who work together like wheels on a car, each one rolling alongside the other in comedic brilliance. Gentile’s powerhouse vocals belt out songs made famous by the likes of Idina Menzel and Liza Minelli. Her performance of “How to Fly,” a parody “Defying Gravity” from Wicked, almost gave the audience as many goosebumps as the original. When she comes out as 30-year-old Annie, America’s favorite orphan, the audience can barely contain the giggles. The scene that parodies West Side Story with “Chita and Rita” leaves the audience pealing with laughter and will stay in your head for several days. Gentile was most recently seen on Broadway in Kinky Boots, and we imagine she’d make a fabulous Elphaba in Wicked if given the opportunity.

Safran is a red-headed spitfire, and her personalities on stage are vivacious and hilarious. Her portrayal of the personalities of Barbara Streisand, Patti Lupone, Bernadette Peters, Julie Andrews are on point and side-splitting. Her timing is perfect and her antics only add to the fun.

Collins-Pisano has some very memorable performances, including his spoof on The Lion King as Rafreaky complete with a Mickey Mouse headdress and hidden Disney merchandise. He also portrays the characters of Evan Hansen (laugh-out-loud funny lyrics), the Phantom from The Phantom of the Opera and Beetlejuice (Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice) all of which he played out uproariously.

Rounding out the cast is Coyne, who delivered so many varied performances. It’s a wonder the cast can fully embody each unique character in every scene they’re in. His interpretation of characters like Hugh Jackman, Simba from The Lion King and Lin-Manuel Miranda from Hamilton were on point. There’s a scene with Coyne and Collins-Pisano where they do a riff on The Book of Mormon that will have you hooting with laughter.

Keri Safran, Bill Coyne and Chris Collins-Pisano in The Gateway's
Keri Safran, Bill Coyne and Chris Collins-Pisano in The Gateway’s “Forbidden Broadway,” Photo: Jeff Bellante

There are so many different shows represented in this rendition of Forbidden Broadway—including Chicago, Mary Poppins, Cats, Jersey Boys, Fiddler on the Roof and Little Shop of Horrors to name a few more. You’ll lose count of how many costume changes each character has, and the costumes themselves are uproarious in their interpretation, due to the vision of Costume Designer Alvin Colt. The Lion King ensembles were hilarious, as were the puppets used for the “Ya Gotta Get a Puppet” scene from Avenue Q. The parodies of Cats and Frozen were also favorites, and you’ll be giggling about the Cabaret scene for a week.

Forbidden Broadway is a refreshingly wicked and clever parody of some of the most popular shows that have graced the Great White Way. As always, The Gateway picks the best team for the job, and this show is a great example of masterful talent working together seamlessly.

Don’t miss Forbidden Broadway, running through June 22 at the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport. For tickets and more information, visit thegateway.org.

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