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Parodies provide side-splitting laughter

"Forbidden Broadway" should be allowed to come more often.

The On Stage Committee of Duke University Union presented "The Best of Forbidden Broadway: Volume II" on Tuesday. Although the audience was not a sell-out crowd, their response made it seem that way.

Four actors and a piano player hammered out Broadway tunes from the past and present, nailing almost every successful act that ever spent time on the notorious street.

Legendary figures took more than one bashing. The parody of Chita Rivera and Rita Moreno's rivalry received riotous laughter. To the tune of "America" in "West Side Story," Danica Connors and Shana Mahoney made sure that audiences knew the difference between the two Hispanic actresses by singing, "I am Chita and not Rita. Rita is Rita and not Chita."

Connors and Mahoney recalled two other legends in the second act with "Merman/Martin." Connors exaggerated the sharp rigidness of Ethel Merman, while Mahoney tried to wrestle away the spotlight with an overly flighty Mary Martin.

It was obvious that the audience was very familiar with Cameron Mackintosh and "Les MisZrables." The foursome had no trouble using the megahit's popularity to its advantage. Brian Noonan made fun of Mackintosh's ability to mass market musical memorabilia through the tune "My Favorite Things."

Later on, a spoof of "Les MisZrables" garnered the most laughs. The quartet came out on stage, spinning around and around in attempt to get the musical's Lazy Susan effect. Jean Valjean sang "This song's too high. Bring it down." To the melody of "I Dreamed a Dream," Fantine sang "I don't sing one song then die."

Other Mackintosh productions were targeted, such as "Miss Saigon" and "The Phantom of the Opera." In the first parody, women were cast as men and vice-versa, attacking the hoopla surrounding the casting controversy. There was also a person dressed up as the technical nightmare--the helicopter. In "Michael Crawford Phantom," the Page stage got its own tiny version of the pummeling chandelier.

Other Andrew Lloyd Webber potshots were made through "Aspects of Lust" and "Evita," whose title character sang, "Don't cry for me Barbara Streisand. You know, I never liked you."

Even without any knowledge of the parodied subjects, the performances themselves were humorous enough to entertain. However, the power of the hit lay in the inside joke that the performers had with the audience. Some numbers did not receive nearly as much laughter as others, perhaps because of the lack of recognition.

A handful of references to choreographer Tommy Tune were only acknowledged by a few. There were also several songs from "Guys and Dolls" that did not seem to make the same connection as the "Les Mis" performances. "Guys and Dolls" toyed with the idea of its revival on Broadway: "I know, I've seen this show before." Apparently, many people did not know that Lorna Luft is Judy Garland's "other daughter" and that she currently plays the part of Miss Adelaide. A whole song, "A Bushel On My Neck" dealt with this fact.

Although this show is revised up to date, it does not leave the classics untouched. "I Could Have Danced All Night" from "My Fair Lady" was transformed into "I Couldn't Hit That Note." This was aimed at Julie Andrew's frequent modulation of melodies when she couldn't reach the key. Towards the end of the show, the four also poked fun at New York actors themselves in their alteration of "Fiddler on the Roof." The actors told four stories of why they decided to act: retention, attention, inflation (breast implants) and complexion. This, of course, was to the music of "Tradition."

The only downfall of "Forbidden Broadway" was that it was too short. Audience members left wanting more, even if their stomachs hurt.


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