"So what did you actually do on Forbidden Broadway, they ask me... Well, for starters, I wrote the following liner notes for the LP:"
Fall, 1981: Broadway unsuspectingly enjoys a renewed prosperity, as accepting theatregoers indulge such oddities as the operatic expertise of Linda Ronstadt and the irony of a non-musical about Mozart. Enter Gerard Alessandrini, veteran leading man of stock and repertory theatre, who turns his childhood genius for song parody against the invincibly inaccessible Broadway, a fortress forbidden to Gerard and the vast majority of his fellow performers. Enter Nora Mae Lyng, a consummate musical comedy leading lady, impatiently awaiting the opportunity to show the current Broadway crop a thing or two about style, magnetism and sheer brilliance.
LISTEN TO EXCERPTS from
Together, Gerard and Nora vented their frustrations with his song parodies, entertaining their friends at parties and in local piano bars. In one such establishment, Palsson's Upstairs Supper Club, Gerard and Nora offered a more comprehensive evening of Broadway parody. Inspired by the enthusiastic reception, Gerard expanded the repertoire to encompass the entire Broadway scene, accommodating the talents of three other similarly frustrated friends.
Enter Chloe Webb, an entirely original comedienne eager to pit her warm, insightful zaniness against the ancient Broadway institutions perennially touting their wares.
Enter Bill Carmichael, the classic, rich-voiced, handsome tenor, serenely protesting the trendy invasion of Broadway by rock singers and television blonds.
Forbidden Broadway began regular performances in December, 1981 for the usual cabaret audience: friends and a few random adventurers. The friends consisted largely of fellow out-of-work performers, for whom the show served as a hilarious incarnation of their Broadway ambitions and frustrations. Word-of-mouth spread quickly to the current Broadway gypsies, who flocked to the show in secret to laugh at their own shows sent up, deflated, and skewered. Within days, the entire Broadway community buzzed, scandalized and fascinated by the effrontery and daring of this tiny, budgetless group of unknowns who presumed to challenge Broadway's multi-million dollar illusion of excellence.
Fred Barton and Gerard Alessandrini:
whipping up more witches brew.
(People Magazine, 1982)
In a wretched January snowstorm, Rex Reed trudged over to Palsson's to observe the phenomenon. His rave review was the final touch. Forbidden Broadway became the toast of the town, a miraculous success unprecedented in show business history and unlikely to be repeated. The sudden onslought of the enthusiastic public filled the tiny supper club months in advance for years to come. Celebrities from all fields clamored to see it, particularly the very stars, writers, directors, and producers impersonated in the show. Critics across the country hailed it not only for satirical accuracy and skillful execution, but for single-handedly reviving the long-dormant musical revue format.
|Wendee Winters, Nora Mae Lyng, Gerard Alessandrini,|
and Bill Carmichael in the original Forbidden Broadway as
photographed by People Magazine, 1982.
Chloe Webb replaced Wendee Winters in April, 1982
|Gerard Alessandrini, Ann Miller (appearing in Sugar Babies at the time),|
Fred Barton, Nora Mae Lyng, Wendee Winters, Bill Carmichael, March 1982