Forbidden Broadway might be off-limits for middling theater lovers. Since 1982, the show that roasts the Great White Way continues to succeed off-Broadway, but the inside jokes may benefit from proximity and relevance to a New York crowd.
In its visit to Dallas, which opened Thursday night at the Wyly Theatre, presented by AT&T Performing Arts Center, the jokes in Forbidden Broadway fell flat nearly half the time. This "best of" rendition contained sequences from several of Forbidden Broadway's dozen volumes.
Jokes about the bad lipstick and never-ending revivals starring classic divas like Carol Channing and Ethel Merman retain humor for lifetime readers of Page Six, but the Merman jokes seemed to fall on deaf ears Thursday night. A spoof on Barbra Streisand's 1993 Back to Broadway album sent this critic into a fit of giggles, but I was flying solo. Other jokes stood alone: lampooning Aspects of Love carries comedic weight without prior knowledge of the show's ridiculous plotline.
More popular sketches included numerous spoofs on the money-mongering producer Cameron Mackintosh and his show Les Miserables, which consistently stops in Dallas. And the newest routine about creators of Book of Mormon Trey Parker and Matt Stone delivered on-point jokes about the show and the infamous South Park masterminds.
Although many of the best sketches belong to the men (here James Donegan and William Shelby) the women (Danica Connors and Kristen Mengelkoch) bring two powerhouse voices to sketches about a grown-up Annie and the decreasing budget of Beauty and the Beast.
If your knowledge of theater surpasses that of the average person this is a must-see. The show packs jokes into every lyric, transforming songs, actors, characters and shows into punch lines.