Forbidden Broadway (Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre)

If you like funny shows where Christopher Biggins (best known for On Safari on TV) is in the audience then the very funny Forbidden Broadway is definitely the show for you.

I suppose it’s possible that Christopher Biggins (best known for Brendon Chase on TV) won’t be in the audience when you go, but he was in the audience when I went. I know, because I saw him. It’s rather a funny coincidence, because I was in the audience at the Theatre Royal in Brighton in 1999 when Christopher Biggins (best known for Poldark on TV) was on stage and Michael Aspel came on and surprised him for This Is Your Life. He was in Mother Goose at the time, which I remember because I caught one of the sweets he threw out – I think it was a packet of Parma Violets.

In Forbidden Broadway the four-strong cast poke fun at Broadway and West End musicals (so I don’t know why it isn’t called Forbidden Broadway and West End, as it’s a bit confusing). It’s the best thing I have ever seen at the Menier because I haven’t seen anything there before.

Gerard Alessandrini’s wicked revue has been popular in the United States since the 1980s and he cleverly updates the material to make it relevant to new shows, which just goes to show how professional he is. There are some very funny bits, and in the bits where I was bored I went out and either had a Pimm’s or an ice cream.

The excellent cast are Anna-Jane Casey (best known for being the sister of Natalie Casey, best known for being in Hollyoaks on TV), Sophie-Louise Dann (best known for playing “woman” in Goodnight Sweetheart on TV), Ben Lewis  (best known for Doctors on TV), and Damian Humbley (best known for being Australian).

I didn’t recognise all the shows that were being sent up because they haven’t been done  at Eastbourne (where only the other week I saw Black Coffee, Agatha Christie’s brilliant stage version of a book she never wrote, which starred Robert Powell, best known for playing Jesus on TV). However, I did recognise some of the shows that I haven’t even seen because they were featured in the recent show done by the Rattatatonians.

I laughed at the Les Miserables send-up even though I always prefer the songs sung by Alfie Boe with a beard. It was very clever because they pretended there was a revolving stage even though there wasn’t, which goes to show how professional they are. If any of us pretended there was a revolving stage where there wasn’t we would probably fall off.

I also enjoyed the West Side Story rivalry of Rita Chiveira and Chiva Merano, which is a song from the musical Chess; the hilarious version of the Irish musical Once Upon a Potato; and hilarious send-ups of Liza Minnelli (best known for her appearance in the film The Sterile Cuckoo), Julie Andrews (best known for her appearance in the film The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement), and other well-known people I didn’t know.

Christopher Biggins laughed a lot, as well he might, because it was funny. And the best news is that at the Menier Chocolate Factory you can actually buy chocolate!

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