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Act II spoofs musicals in ‘Forbidden Broadway’

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STORY BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON 
For Digital First Media

It’s all about the laughs in the cabaret revue “Forbidden Broadway.” The show, which premiered off-Broadway in 1982, lampoons musical theater. It takes the Act II Playhouse stage this month through June 28. Their version: “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits” featuring hits from musicals during the past 40 years.

Jeffrey Coon. Submitted photo

Jeffrey Coon.
Submitted photo

The revue, created and written by Gerard Alessandrini, spoofs show tunes, characters, and plots of contemporary and current Broadway musicals, as well as actors, writers, composers, directors, choreographers, and producers.

Jeffrey Coon,  who has performed on the Act II stage previously in “Lend Me a Tenor,” is looking forward to audiences seeing the show.

“It’s very smart, extremely funny satire,” he said. “It’s fast-paced. It’s ton of fun.”
One of the things he enjoys the most is watching his cast mates perform. Artistic Director and fellow performer Tony Braithwaite “is not only one of the funniest humans I know, he’s also one of the smartest, so being able to work with him on anything is so gratifying on lots of levels,” Coon said.

Tony Braithwaite. Submitted photo

Tony Braithwaite.
Submitted photo

Coon also likes the antics of Elena Camp.
“She sings her face off, is remarkably funny, and does a wicked Idina Menzel impersonation,” he said (with a wink and a nod to Menzel’s starring role in the musical “Wicked”).
Coon, who has been acting professionally for more than 20 years at the Walnut Street Theatre, Arden Theatre Company, Philadelphia Theatre Company, and more, enjoys working at Act II because “the people who work there are not just good theater people, they’re good people.” He also loves how intimate the theater is – the seats are extremely close to the stage and he likes that. And even though he’s poking fun, Coon loves singing and musicals. He especially loves the lampoon of the long-running, morose “Les Miserables.”
So does Braithwaite.
“It’s always especially fun to lampoon things that take themselves seriously in the way ‘Les Mis’ does,” he said. “The first line sung is, ‘At the end of the play you’re another year older.’ It’s hysterical.”
Braithwaite calls “Forbidden Broadway” the “Saturday Night Live” for musical theater. He loves satire and Broadway musicals. He’s not the only one.
“Act II audiences have indicated, especially with their ticket purchases over the years, that they do, too,” he said.
And so he wears his artistic director, show director, and performer hats at the same time to bring this show to them. On stage, he becomes even more people.
“Since I was a little kid, I’ve loved doing impressions,” he said. “I get to be Carol Channing, Stephen Sondheim, Ethel Merman, and about 10 others.”
In addition to Coon and Camp (“She’s a hoot,” Braithwaite said), Tracie Higgins and Sonny Leo join in the fun.
“They have been collaborators for years and are dear friends,” Braithwaite said, and he adores working with them all.
Coon loves the collaboration as well.
“I love the fact that each new show puts a new group of people together in a way that it’s never been combined before and those people begin to all work together to create something special,” he said.
All are hoping that audiences think “Forbidden Broadway” is special — especially fun.

IF YOU GO

What: “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits”
When: Now through June 28
Where: Act II Playhouse, 56 E. Butler Ave., Ambler.
Tickets: $29-$40 with discounts available for students, groups, and seniors (65+).
Info.: Call (215) 654-0200 or visit www.act2.org

 Tracie Higgins, Jeffrey Coon, Tony Braithwaite, and Elena Camp spoof "Fiddler on the Roof" in "Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits," now playing at Act II Playhouse in Ambler until June 28. Photo by Mark Garvin.

Tracie Higgins, Jeffrey Coon, Tony Braithwaite, and Elena
Camp spoof “Fiddler on the Roof” in “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest
Hits,” now playing at Act II Playhouse in Ambler until June 28. Photo
by Mark Garvin.

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