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Home > Past Buzz > Megan Lewis Gets Raves in Forbidden Broadway

Reviews Sep 14, 2005
New York

Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit
Reviewed By: Brian Scott Lipton

For almost a quarter century, one of the joys of the Forbidden Broadway series has been watching gifted young performers doing dead-on impersonations of theatrical stars from Minnelli to Merman. A related pleasure has been spotting stars-in-the-making: Jason Alexander, Brad Oscar, and Bryan Batt are just a few of the FB alums who have gone on to bigger things.

Call me a psychic, but I'm betting we can add Megan Lewis to that list. This statuesque stunner -- perfectly cast in one skit as Brooke Shields -- is the standout of the recently updated Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit at the series' new home, the 47th Street Theater. I was impressed with Lewis when I saw the first edition of SVU last winter, but she was slightly overshadowed then by her brilliant co-star, Jennifer Simard. This time, she steals the spotlight. Blessed with superb comic timing and a belt that could rival those of Idina Menzel or Patti LuPone -- both of whom she brilliantly parodies here -- Lewis is surely destined for leading ladyhood.

Fortunately for her, and us, the show she is in right now is pretty darn good. Creator Gerard Alessandrini has put together that rare FB in which many of the skits target shows of very recent vintage. While that makes it a little less tourist-friendly than some previous editions, local theater fanatics are sure to be pleased. Among the exceptions to the fresh-content rule are a funny if slightly esoteric Assassins skit that takes aim (in more than one sense of the word) at Stephen Sondheim and a fairly tame spoof of La Cage star Robert Goulet, both of which use Ron Bohmer -- soon to depart for The Woman in White -- to particularly good advantage. Also on hand are such old favorites as "Beauty's Been Decreased", "Can You Feel the Pain Tonight?", and that ever-clever satire of The Phantom of the Opera .

Ironically, for a show that's devoted primarily to musical theater, the evening's funniest skit skewers the stars of two dramas. It's a less-than-fair-fight between Cherry Jones in her Doubt habit, played to complete vocal and physical perfection by Lewis, and a blowsy Kathleen Turner in Virginia Woolf , nicely impersonated by Jeanne Montano. Running a close second in the laugh department is the Lennon number -- an almost brutal but hilariously funny desecration of Yoko Ono, whom the big-voiced brunette Montano captures to a T, right down to the shrill wail that is her trademark.

Alessandrini has no trouble cutting The Light in the Piazza down to size, with Lewis a riot as an ultra-dim version of Kelli O'Hara's mentally challenged Clara, the hunky Jason Mills as a deliciously vain Fabrizio, and Montano getting all of Victoria Clark's mannerisms down pat. Montano also scores with her impersonations of Erin Dilly in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (though Lewis gets the biggest guffaws as the title character, briliantly costumed by Alvin Colt) and Sara Ramirez in Spamalot . Unfortunately, she's ineffective as Kristin Chenoweth in the skewering of the Wicked witches, a bit that was much funnier when Simard played the diminutive diva.

No one is safe from Alessandrini's claws -- neither expected targets like Christina Applegate and Billy Joel nor such sacred icons as Stephen Schwartz, Hugh Jackman, Carol Channing, and Harvey Fierstein. Oh, and there's a sharp arrow aimed at future Fiddler co-star Rosie O'Donnell. But we don't come to Forbidden Broadway to see our stars praised; we come to see them lovingly buried. And that's the way it should stay.


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