Roasting the greats of Broadway
Ryan Summerlin December 9, 2012
The Great White Way, land of such pearls of musical theater as “Oklahoma!,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Annie,” and “Les Miserables.” And, more recently, “Company,” “The Lion King,” “Avenue Q” and “Wicked.” Tony Awards abound in this list of marquee shows, recognizing volumes of work by respected playwrights, directors, choreographers and actors that command respect throughout the theatrical world.
And on Wednesday night, we’re going to throw them all in the dumpster.
“F*rbidden Br*adway,” the Vail Valley Theatre Company’s latest cabaret show, roasts Broadway’s greats in an uproarious revue at The Fitz Lounge in Manor Vail on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. This is not a show for the easily offended or, for that matter, the overly protective theater lover. The company will skewer many favorites as a tribute to their idols of the stage, tickling the audience’s funny bone with hysterical spoofs using rewritten words set to familiar tunes. Side note: Though this may not be for the faint of heart, it is definitely a great way for you numerologists out there to spend this significant date!
As in all art forms, theatrical tastes have changed over the years. Some purists would say that Broadway has replaced content with spectacle, concerned more with the acrobatics of “Spiderman” than the storyline of its hero. Others might lament the fact that shrinking budgets have driven directors to such efficiencies as having the cast supplant the orchestra and play instruments on stage while acting (“Company”) or resorting to prerecorded music, often lifted from pop soundtracks (“Mama Mia,” “Jersey Boys”). And some might decry the recent overuse of puppets (“Avenue Q,” “The Lion King,” “Little Shop of Horrors”) as pandering to a less mature audience. While these complaints are subjective, to say the least, “F*rbidden Br*adway” exploits each of them with a rapier wit and lets the audience in on the joke as The Theater makes fun of itself.
The vaunted Bob Finnie will be the musical director for the evening. I can’t imagine what Bob is best known for. Maybe it’s for his highly entertaining piano bar and audience conducting at Splendido. Perhaps you’ll recognize him as the musical director of the Vail Valley Theatre Company’s many “Evening on Broadway” shows at the Vilar Center in the past. His talents are such that the Aspen Community Theater has recently been hogging him as its musical director and conductor.
Well, suffice it to say, Bob signifies a foundation of talent for this show from which the community players build. Eight cast members, all working stiffs here in the valley, bring their varied theatrical skills to this cabaret. Ranging in age from mid-20s to 50s, all have experience on the stage, some exhaustive. Don Watson and Lance Schober have the pedigrees as once or current professionals in the biz. Charis Patterson is the go-to singing phenom you’ve seen in almost every musical in the valley. Fantastic talents and fresh faces Didi Doolittle, JD Lemon, Stephanie Merritt and Franny Gustafson are completing their freshman year with the company. And then I’m thrown in there as comic relief, the writer of articles and the ubiquitous clothes-taker-offer, when needed (it will NOT be happening in this show).
“F*rbidden Br*adway” features hand-picked material from the brilliant and long-standing show created and written by Gerard Alessandrini and performed in New York since 1982. Its intelligent humor will crack you up. But WAIT, that’s not all! After a lovely evening of snacking on appetizers, enjoying fine beverages (two are included, along with the apps) and splitting your sides at the show, the whole kit and kaboodle will adjourn to the Lord Gore restaurant for the “Afterglow” party. Finnie and Watson, and other cast members, will lead an on-request singalong for the hardcore socialites. Dinner and bar service will be available. Don’t miss this wonderful evening of laughter, song and community. There’s nothing forbidden about it.
Bart Garton is a longtime local video producer who does some acting on the side. Email comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.