The musical comedy revue Forbidden Broadway has been entertaining fans since 1982, and on November 21 it opened its newest edition Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking at the Garner Galleria Theatre at the Denver Center for Performing Arts.
In this updated version of the franchised parody, Broadway shows Les Miserables, Wicked, Book of Mormon, Lion King, Kinky Boots, Annie and other recent hits fall victim to the hilarious antics of four very funny, very talented performers—Jordan Leigh, Chad T. Reagan, Sarah Rex and Lauren Shealy—who ham it up with great delight.
The wickedly funny lyrics come from award-winning Gerard Alessandrini who created and wrote the original Forbidden Broadway and all 15 editions after that. A master of the roast, he skillfully skewers Broadway’s best, taking familiar show tunes and giving them fresh words. From Jersey Boys, Rex, Leigh and Reagan croon, “Walk like a man, sing like a girl” emphasizing the falsetto made famous by Frankie Valli. From Lion King, the weight of the oversized headdresses makes the cast wail, “Can you feel the pain tonight?” One priceless number has them teaching the soft-voiced phantom Reagan how to sing “Music of the Night” with amplification. In the Les Miz segment, Leigh struggles to reach the high notes as Jean Valjean singing “Bring Him Home.”
Outlandish costumes and wigs are as spoofy as the songs, like Shealy’s pink flared-leg pantsuit of the “Swedish meatball stew” Mamma Mia, and Leigh’s drag queen getup from Kinky Boots. Backstage changes are just as quick as the witty lyrics.
The intimate setting of the cabaret-style show makes it easy to hear the words—crucial to getting the humor of this backstage expose—unlike loudly amplified musicals in larger theaters.
The four actors plus two understudies all live in Denver. Locals will recognize Denver native Jordan Leigh who played in the long-running hit I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change at the Garner Galleria Theatre. He also appeared in DCPA’s White Christmas, Five Course Love and The Doyle and Debbie Show.
Making his Denver Center debut is native Chad Reagan, an opera singer who performed with Central City Opera in How Green Was My Valley and other opera companies.
Sarah Rex, originally from Boston, starred in Five Course Love and has appeared in Legally Blonde, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Miss Saigon, all Arvada Center productions.
Centennial native Lauren Shealy has played in numerous shows at the Denver Center, Arvada Center and Lone Tree Arts Center as well as off Broadway and the national tour of South Pacific. She was named “Best Actress in a Musical” by Westword in 2013. Understudies Joshua Archer and Katie Drinkard both are appearing at the DCPA for the first time after performing regionally.
Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking is directed by William Selby; musical director is Martha Yordy; scenic designer is Lisa Orzolek; lighting by Charles R. Macleod; sound by Dustin Lacy; costumes by Alvin Colt; choreography by Phillip George; stage manager, Laura Hum; technical director, Abel Becerra.
The show runs 1 hour and 40 minutes with one 15-minute intermission. It plays at the Garner Galleria Theatre through March 1. For tickets, call 800-641-1222 or visit www.denvercenter.org.