Our First Rave Review for “Forbidden Broadway”!

Broadway comes to Western Reserve Playhouse

7/27/2017 – West Side Leader
By David Ritchey

Performers are shown in Western Reserve Playhouse’s “Forbidden Broadway.”
Photo courtesy of Western Reserve Playhouse

BATH — Western Reserve Playhouse has turned another page in its theater history.The theater hired Dawn Sniadak-Yamokoski and Brian Westerley as co-artistic directors, who have brought the musical revue “Forbidden Broadway,” created and written by Gerard Alessandrini, to the theater. The show runs through Aug. 12. When I saw the show July 21, the small theater was almost sold out.

“Forbidden Broadway” has been updated several times to celebrate the shows currently playing on Broadway. “Forbidden Broadway” makes fun of the music, the lyrics and various Broadway characters. In truth, the script is lovingly set to entertain the audience with funny stories of what’s happening on Broadway.

For example, Annie appears in the Annie dress and wig, but she’s 30 years older than when she originated the role. She has a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other. Nina Takacs plays this older Annie, who is unhappy about being unemployed for such a long time.

In another sequence, Bernadette Hisey and the ensemble sing three songs from “Hello, Dolly” — “Call On Dolly,” “Dolly Is A Girl’s Best Friend” and “Oh No, Carol.” Each song is a parody of Carol Channing and her frequent attempts to revive “Hello, Dolly.”

In one segment, the Phantom from “Phantom of the Opera” and Ethel Merman sing a duet about the elaborate sound systems designed to get the voices of the singers out to the audience. Luke Scattergood plays the Phantom and Hisey plays Merman.

In a salute to “Rent,” which is called “Rant,” the company sings “Seasons of Hype,” which is based on the favorite song “Seasons of Love.”

The production ends with “What I Did For Laughs,” a parody of “What I Did For Love” from “A Chorus Line.”

The set was perfect for this musical revue. The actors worked on a three-level playing area. The background was a silver curtain, which provided a perfect backdrop for the performers.

Musical director John Ebner wore tails, plaid shorts and a white shirt. Ebner was once again excellent in his role.

Choreographer Samantha Woodill brought out the best in the cast. She had the cast dancing on the small stage as real Broadway professionals.

Director Sniadak-Yamokoski told me this production had over 100 costumes, 32 wigs and help from five theaters. Costumer Kelsey Tomlinson and Brandon Applegarth, assistant to the costumer, were responsible for the many costumes.

The production has a cast of excellent performers, including Don Bernardo, Tina Davis, Jay Hill, Hisey, Nicholas Peters, Scattergood, Kimberly Sullivan, Takacs, Mark Vandevender and Kaleigh Velette. Most of these performers are new to Western Reserve and they bring a bright, happy addition to the show.

In addition, tonight, July 27, the theater will offer a one-night special, “Twisted.” This show will include about 30 performers singing twisted versions of Broadway hits.

For tickets, call 330-620-7314.


David Ritchey has a Ph.D. in communications and is a professor of communications at The University of Akron. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and the Cleveland Critics Circle.