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CATCO’s ‘Forbidden Broadway’ a hilarious opener to the season

Actors (from left to right) Dionysia Williams, Joe Bishara (front), Christopher Storer and Dionysia Williams in CATCO's 'Forbidden Broadway'
Actors (from left to right) Dionysia Williams, Joe Bishara (front), Christopher Storer and Dionysia Williams in CATCO's 'Forbidden Broadway'
Red Generation Photography

Forbidden Broadway Greatest Hits: Vol 1

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The opener of CATCO’s 2013-2014 season is more of a sketch comedy treat than an actual musical, but Forbidden Broadawy Greatest Hits: Vol 1 definitely go me excited for what else CATCO has in store for the upcoming year.

Forbidden Broadway pays hilarious tribute to many of the big name musicals, creating parodies of their own songs, and also salutes well-known Broadway personalities. Nothing is off-limits for Forbidden Broadway, it seems, and even if you might not be familiar with all of the shows in the repertoire, you will still find yourself enjoying the jokes.

There is no plot and no story—the entire purpose of Forbidden Broadway is to laugh and hear parodies of these well-known songs. From Chicago to Wicked, Les Miserable to Hairspray, there’s a little something for every kind of theatre fan. The parodies are nothing short of side-splitting hilarious, and the wonderful cast interacts with the audience on more than one occasion (so be prepared). It’s not exactly a short show—there’s a fifteen-minute intermission—but it flew by. The set itself pays tribute to Forbidden Broadway’s variety-show-like charm, complete with stand microphones that are barely used, a grand piano, and a shimmery curtain. Add in the fact that the studio the show is being performed in at the Riffe Center has a dinner theatre kind of quality to it, and it’s not hard to love the laid back nature of the show itself.

The four-person cast is phenomenal, of which I would expect nothing less of CATCO at this point. Joe Bishara and Liz Wheeler are regulars in the CATCO productions, whether behind the scenes or on the stage, and Christopher Storer and Dionysia Williams are simply brilliant. While the cast had near-perfect comedic timing and absolutely no shame whatsoever in the cruder or more ridiculous moments, the thing I was most impressed with were their impersonations of actual people. They got the voices and mannerisms spot on, and with the addition of their own over-embelishments for comedic effect, there was no choice but to be both entertained and amazed.

Forbidden Broadway is definitely targeted to an adult audience. There is some crude humor, and definitely a lot of jokes that would probably go over kids’ heads. Don’t go into this expecting a cute parody show, because that is definitely not all you get. The easily offended should probably not risk it, but the packed studio told me that audiences are not shying away in the slightest.

In fact, Forbidden Broadway has been such a hit with Columbus audiences that CATCO has extended the show by four shows, with closing now scheduled for July 14 (instead of the original closing date of July 7). If you get a chance to see Forbidden Broadway before its closing, I suggest you give it a chance. Even at the end of the worst day, CATCO’s Forbidden Broadway will give you plenty to smile about.

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