Performers, director keep 'Forbidden Broadway' fresh and funny
The Theatre Factory's production of “Forbidden Broadway” technically features a cast of four, but audiences will be treated to dozens of “guest appearances” by notables such as Liza Minnelli, Carol Channing and Robert Goulet.
Actors Adam Seligson, Jacob Boergesson and Kirstin Repco of Pittsburgh and Erin Stetor-Seaberg of White Oak have their hands full as they switch characters and take on songs from musicals such as “Wicked,” “Chicago,” “Rent” and “Mamma Mia” in this off-Broadway musical by Gerard Alessandrini.
Rebekah Lecocq of Plum, who directs the high-energy revue that spoofs Broadway shows as well as classic and current performers, says the foursome has what it takes to keep up the pace.
“Although this cast is small, they all bring such different strengths to the ensemble,” she says. “They are such a solid group of performers that they have made my job as a director much easier.”
Their biggest challenge is that the four actors must portray 44 roles altogether by the end of the show.
“It's a marathon!” she says. “It took a bit of strategy to make sure the show is balanced and that our actors have a chance to breathe.”
Boergesson agrees the show moves along at a rapid pace.
“When you're in a typical musical, you're either in an ensemble role or a lead. In this show, none of us get a break because we are the ensemble and we are the leads. It is just non-stop go-go-go the entire show.” he says.
Seligson says this musical was too good an opportunity to pass up, since he loves doing parodies and poking fun at things as well as singing, dancing and acting.
“There's a lot of room for individual creativity,” he says. “Everyone in the cast is expected to perform to a high standard since we all play large parts in the show. I see that as both exciting and a challenge.”
His other challenge, he says jokingly, is that “I'm probably not the strongest singer you'll ever hear. I enjoy singing and I annoy my roommates and co-workers doing so fairly often, but I'm no Bebe Neuwirth or Mandy Patinkin.”
For Stetor-Seaberg, her biggest challenge is in trying to make sure all of her characters are as authentic as possible and learning new lyrics to popular musical theater songs she has been singing for years.
Some references in the show have been updated and changed to make them more current or to allow for more people to be in on the jokes, according to Repco.
“This is a show that has been updated over 20 times to stay relevant, and the script is one that really allows the director and performers to take liberties,” she says. “We're fortunate to have a director who is so familiar with the original versions of these songs and shows that she's made some great changes while still keeping the comedy and intent of the song intact.”
Lecocq adds that “where the cast and I have made our mark is in the transitions and the improvised interludes. And, of course, we have a nod to Pittsburgh thrown in there, too.”
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.