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Forbidden Hollywood

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Forbidden Hollywood, Apollo Theater Center.

Gerard Alessandrini's latest show, Forbidden Hollywood, follows the winning formula of his earlier, funnier revue Forbidden Broadway: take four talented musical comedy actors, two of each gender, mix in lots of funny wigs and quick costume changes, throw in an evening's worth of great song parodies, and voila!--instant money machine. This time, however, Alessandrini forgot the last ingredient.

Great parodies have to skewer fresh targets or attack old but still relevant ones from a new angle. Most of the songs in Forbidden Hollywood don't do either. Instead they tell the same old jokes about such often-spoofed movies as Gone With the Wind, The Sound of Music, and The Wizard of Oz. Or they poke fun at movies that just don't seem to matter anymore--like the pathetic Lucille Ball version of Mame. Does Alessandrini really expect us to laugh at yet another takeoff on the last scene in Casablanca? Does he think anyone but Carol Channing still cares that Barbra Streisand won the lead in the 1969 movie version of Hello, Dolly!?

Alessandrini tackles a few recent movies (Forrest Gump, The Bridges of Madison County, Batman Forever) with better results. But even in these songs he focuses on well-worn targets (Gump's box of chocolates, Meryl Streep's odd accent, Batman's latex abs of steel) and depends too much on the considerable talents of his cast (David Benoit, Lori Hammel, Kingsley Leggs, and Cheryl Sylvester) and costume designer (Alvin Colt).

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