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15 Things You Didn't Know About Forbidden Broadway


L-R: Zakiya Young, Wilkie Ferguson III, William Cooper Howell, John Devereaux, and Dedrick A Bonner in “Spamilton."

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

A little known fact is that Spamilton isn’t the only product of Gerard Alessandrini’s poisoned pen. Alessandrini is also the creator, writer, and director of Forbidden Broadway—the Off-Broadway revue that has famously parodied musical theatre for several decades. And that’s probably not the only thing you didn’t know about Forbidden Broadway.

  1. Gerard Alessandrini founded Forbidden Broadway in 1981 when he was a struggling actor working as a waiter at Lincoln Center.

  2. When it was first founded, Forbidden Broadway was financed as a nightclub act at Palsson's Supper Club.

  3. Alessandrini was an original cast member of Forbidden Broadway and can be heard on five of the seven cast albums, as well as the soundtracks of Disney's Aladdin and Pocahontas.

  4. Seinfeld's Jason Alexander is a Forbidden Broadway alum who eventually became a victim of parody himself. After he won a Tony Award® in Jerome Robbins's Broadway, he was parodied in Jason Alexander's Broadway, billed as "the theater’s first $8 million rerun."

  5. Forbidden Broadway only parodies the big hits because Alessandrini believes "you can kick somebody when they’re up." So if he spoofs you, you know you've made it.

  6. Alessandrini likes to parody Broadway stars as well as shows—including Brooke Shields, Chita Rivera, and even The New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley, with "I Hate Men" rewritten as "I Hate Ben."

  7. Tony Award®-winning composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim was one of the first and biggest fans of Forbidden Broadway. David Hibbard, a cast member of Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back!, remembered one time that Sondheim "could be seen laughing so hard and actually banging his head against the wall."

  8. Forbidden Broadway has picked up nine Drama Desk Awards, a Special Tony®, an Obie, a Lucille Lortel, and Drama League Award.

  9. Alessandrini is rarely given free tickets to Broadway shows, so he has to buy them himself. "If it's not good, I’m very resentful."

  10. After Volume 1, all of Forbidden Broadway's albums have a variation of the label The Unoriginal Cast Recording because they don’t feature all or any of the original cast.

  11. In 1997, Forbidden Broadway moved the basement of Ellen's Stardust Diner, a '50s themed restaurant in the heart of the theatre district, during Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back!

  12. Alessandrini came up with the hook for a Liza Minnelli-Cabaret number during a trip to Disneyland. Phillip George, director of Forbidden Broadway and longtime business partner of Alessandri, recalls: "We started talking about it while we were in line for the bobsled ride. By the time we got to the top of the first hill, Gerard shouted at the top of his lungs, 'Bye-bye, mein film career!'"

  13. Tony Award® winner Glenn Close starred in Sunset—a Sunset Boulevard parody sketch—in Forbidden Broadway in 1994.

  14. In 1995, Alessandrini released Forbidden Hollywood, which parodied movies like Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, Casablanca, and Aladdin.

  15. Actor Bryan Batt was part of the cast in Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back! and Forbidden Broadway Cleans Up Its Act.