Tracie Higgins, Tony Braithwaite (as Carol Channing) and Jeffrey Coon spoof "Hello, Dolly!" in "Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits," now playing at Act II Playhouse in Ambler until June 28. (Photo by Mark Garvin)

Tracie Higgins, Tony Braithwaite (as Carol Channing) and
Jeffrey Coon spoof “Hello, Dolly!” in “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest
Hits,” now playing at Act II Playhouse in Ambler until June 28. (Photo
by Mark Garvin)

by Clark Groome

The cast includes Stephen Sondheim, Ethel Merman, Carol Channing, Rita Moreno, Chita Rivera, Bebe Neuwirth, Liza Minnelli, Andrea McArdle, Harvey Fierstein and Barbra Streisand. They’re appearing in “Chicago,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Annie,” “Hello, Dolly,” “West Side Story,” “Spamalot,” “Rent,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Wicked,” “Mama Mia,” “Cats,” “Les Misérables” and “A Chorus Line.” All of that happens in 75 minutes.

How can that be? It can be because of Gerard Alessandrini’s creative genius. He is the brains behind “Forbidden Broadway,” the music satire that was a mainstay in New York in many versions for more than two decades.

The folks at Ambler’s Act II Playhouse have culled the 12 different “Forbidden Broadway” versions to produce “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits,” which is currently on view through June 28.

Directed by Tony Braithwaite — who also stars with Jeffrey Coon, Tracie Higgins, Elena Camp and musical director/pianist Sonny Leo — Act II’s production is a hoot.

The cast manages to capture the various characters just about perfectly. You haven’t lived, or died laughing, until you’ve encountered Braithwaite’s Carol Channing.

The show relies on its actors’ talents and a series of wigs and costumes (designed by Alisa Sickora Kleckner) to create the spoofed shows and characters. It’s clever and funny from beginning to end.

“Forbidden Broadway’s” satire is not without bite but always without malice. The show’s intentions are summed up in their take on “A Chorus Line.” They end the show with “What I Did for Love” transformed into “What I Did for Laughs.”

The question is always asked: Do you need to be a musical comedy aficionado to enjoy “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits?” While that might add to your pleasure, it’s certainly not necessary. The list of shows and personalities in the lead above are all well known, so nothing should be too esoteric to exclude anyone who likes to be entertained.

And in Ambler at Act II you will be.

For tickets call 215-654-0200 or visit www.act2.org

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