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The Weird and Wonderful Not So Forbidden Off-Broadway

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Comedy is always weird but can be wonderful when a) the funny person highlights the same flaws you also noticed but never actually revealed.

Musical theater is also weird but also can be wonderful, especially when b) you leave a performance humming a memorable tune.

Reconciling a and b above is not, to quote Don Quixote in Broadway musical lingo, "an impossible dream." It's being done once again! A new, devastatingly wicked revue has woken from its three year long siesta and is blending the weird with the wonderful, cleverly, sometimes even brilliantly, in the brand new edition of Gerard Alessandrini's Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary along with its 21st edition by satirizing, in alphabetical order, Annie, Anything Goes, An Evening With Patti and Mandy, Brigadoon, Book of Mormon, The End of the Rainbow, Evita, Follies, The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, Ghost, Into the Woods, The Jersey Boys, The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Newsies, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Rock of Ages, Smash, Spiderman, Wicked, , and more specifically Harvey Fierstein, Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Stephen Sondheim and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

If you've found any of these plays and players imperfect in any way, Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking is a must. To paraphrase Irving Berlin's Annie Oakley: Any flaw you can see, Gerard can see better. Best of all, every tune is a hit you can already hum whose lyrics have been mangled to better display its target's failings. Granted, there may be a few more victims than bulls-eyes, but you'll find more than enough stuff here to make you howl with Glee.

One might well ask Gerard, Why this? Why now? He'll give you three reasons. "Because I could no longer stand sitting though shows without an outlet for my pent up parodies. Because I was blessed with a season that practically wrote itself. Because my favorite Off-Broadway near-Broadway theater was available but only until January 6, 2013, which gave us more than enough time to say everything we have to say now then let us rise and return to New York again from time to time." The 47th Street Theater feels refurbished and looks terrific, with a versatile casual set. Kudos also to Costume Designer William Heckman and to Wig Designer Bobbie Clifton Zlotnik, who transfigures human hair into an outrage.

The current cast, the diverse, versatile, compelling and hilarious Natalie Charle Ellis, Jenny Lee Stern, Scott Richard Foster and Marcus Stevens -- with a Terry Thomas kind of separation between his two top front teeth -- emerge from the mists of Brigadoon, hell bent on the murder of Elena Rogers' non-charismatic Evita, and the wasting of the world's happiest Che Guevara, Ricky Martin in a perpetual state of liven' La Evita Loca. Next victim? The geographically challenged Matthew Broderick, stumbling through dance routines over which the biggest klutz could triumph while singing great standards as though the words went from his lungs to his tongue without ever passing through his brain.

As the gifted cast assassinates one star of the season after another, gales of laughter soar from different sections of the theater, depending on how Gerard has eviscerated a show that some particular attendees hated most. My own companion laughed so hard that he cried at Gerard's spoof of An Evening with Patti and Mandy, a production he absolutely abhorred, but was unable to sleep through because Patti's singing kept waking him up. .

Alessandrini deserves a medal for his flair for discovering droll, passionate, gifted mimics/stars-to-be year after year like Jason Alexander, TV best-known double loser; first as George in Seinfeld and then for the 30 pounds he dropped on Jenny Craig ads. Jason's hirsute post weight loss appearance on the Bill Maher Show implied that eating the Jenny Craig way had allowed him to grow a brand new full head of auburn hair.

Other Gerard past finds? Brad Oscar, who worked his way up from Roger De Bris to Max Bialystok in The Producers; Bryan Batt, currently Sal Romano in Mad Men; Michael McGrath, the 2012 Featured Player Tony Award Winner for his nice work in Nice Work if You Can Get It and the incredibly multi-voiced Christine Pedi and Christina Bianco, who both can run the gamut from Julie Andrews to Elaine Stritch and everyone else in between in the very same song. Both Christine and Christina can always be seen in action on www.YouTube.com and Christine Pedi is currently starring in off-Broadway's Newsical, a revue that mocks current events.