Stars and Barbs

Forbidden Hollywood is a laugh riot

As if Hollywood wasn't so ridiculous these days it actually needed to be lampooned, the makers of Forbidden Broadway—which viciously parodied way-serious theater dramatists in the '90s—have brought you a musical zings-and-daggers revue of the icons and schleps of Tinseltown. Forbidden Hollywood is a small show, only two ultratalented men and two dead-on mimicry women, but it's a fun, short show as well, something to get moderately gussied-up for and take in on an evening otherwise filled with the truly horrific cinema offered on an OC screen near you. And yes, it is still fun to make fun of Hollywood, even if it is quite easy.

Stars run through the mill come in the old and new variety. There are the anticipated shots at an irritatingly naive Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, Barbra Streisand (who gets the KO positioned between Louis Armstrong and Carol Channing in a riotous rendition of "Shut Up, Barbra"), Disney's animated corporate mania, Titanic, and Gone with the Wind. But there are some special knocks at Liza—who deserves it more these days than her sweet, drunkard mother ever did—and her monstrosity of a wedding, as well as digs at my personal "I hate you so much it makes me want to have sex with you" trash can CĂ©line Dion, the incredibly dim Keanu Reeves and the mousy Winona "Watch Your Wallet" Ryder.

Especially pleasing is the Nicole Kidman/Moulin Rouge/Tom Cruise-is-gay/prenuptial jaunt. But the most deserved—though least-heeded—blast is directed at Hollywood moguls who insist on taking grand Broadway material, stripping away the songs and charm, and squeezing it into a projector, ill-cast and rotten, as is the case in the upcoming Chicago starring Richard Gere, Queen Latifah and Rene Zellweger. Pass the barf bag.

Actors extraordinaire Eric Gutman, Eric Lee Johnson, Kathryn Kendall and Leisa Mather are spot-on with their impersonations. Though they seldom feign the visage of the stars they destroy, the foursome have the mannerisms and—more often than not—voices down to a tee. Especially noteworthy imitations are Ann-Margret ("Bye, Bye Thirty"); Babs (twice); a grin-laden, monkeyesque Gene Kelly; and Julie Andrews chirping out, "Stupidcarelessfictionalnonsensicalverboseness." Yeah, we were howling.

Pianist Matthew Ward does a bang-up job tailing the performers, and writer Gerard Alessandrini and his wicked little pen make you feel entitled to your loathing of the rich and famous.

Forbidden Hollywood at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, Founders Hall, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 555-ARTS. Thurs., Sept. 12, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Wed.-Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 7:30 & 9:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m. Through Sept. 22. $46-$49.

 
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