Busting Broadway's Balls

Cabaret-style musical skewers Tony's biggest hits.

Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit begins with perennial optimist Little Orphan Annie taking a bullet. It’s fitting, since this popular stage series has spent the past 25 years lampooning the Great White Way’s stars and musicals. “You don’t really have to have seen the shows [we make fun of] to have a good time,” says William Selby, who directs and choreographs the production, now playing at Playhouse Square.

The ninth Forbidden Broadway show targets recent hits like Hairspray, Wicked, and Jersey Boys. It also manages to poke fun at the Law & Order franchise: A pair of TV detectives is called in to investigate Annie’s shooting. Along the way, everyone from Billy Joel (whose music fueled Movin’ Out) to Elton John (who wrote The Lion King’s score) is spoofed. “I tell the performers to study the person they’re impersonating,” says Selby. “That’s who their teacher is -- not me.” The toughest part, he says, is juggling all the different plays, actors, and sets referenced onstage. A four-person cast flies through more than two dozen show tunes. “I really put new numbers under the microscope,” says Selby, who’s worked on Forbidden Broadway since 1985. “If I was doing the exact same show all these years, I’d have gone mad a long time ago.”
Wednesdays-Fridays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 5 & 8:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Sept. 20. Continues through Dec. 2, 2007