Actors Theatre of Indiana brings Broadway musical parody to stage


For Billy Kimmel, the best description of “Forbidden Broadway” is, it’s the musical version of “Saturday Night Live.”

Kimmel will act and direct Actors Theatre of Indiana’s production of “Forbidden Broadway,” which runs April 26 to May 12 at the Studio Theater at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. The show is a revue with a parody of different Broadway musicals.

Kimmel was on the “Forbidden Broadway” tour for approximately 11 years — through five different versions of it.

Kimmel is joined in the four-person cast by ATI Artistic Director Judy Fitzgerald, ATI co-founder Cynthia Collins and Kieran Danaan. Brent Marty will provide the musical accompaniment.

“The show always has four actors, who are singers and dancers,” Kimmel said.

More than 20 shows are represented in 90 minutes.

“So, it’s pretty brisk,” said Kimmel, who is based in New York City.

The biggest challenges are the 10-second costume changes.

“It’s an aerobic workout, too, because it’s like being shot out of a cannon,” Kimmel said.

This is the seventh time Kimmel has directed with ATI, including previous versions of “Forbidden Broadway.”

The last time he directed “Forbidden Broadway” with ATI was in 2019.

“This show has been going on for 40 years off-Broadway and it’s become sort of an institution to the Broadway community and theater lovers,” Kimmel said. “People come to see shows in New York and make room to see if there is an edition playing to see it. Now, it’s a rite of passage for people that become Broadway stars. If you’re lampooned (in the show), then you’ve made it, so to speak.”

Kimmel said every few years, American playwright Gerald Alessandrini would do an edition and it would run for a year or two. Then Alessandrini took a break to write “Spamilton: An American Parody” in 2014. Kimmel said Alessandrini wrote a new edition in 2019, but it wasn’t out long because of the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down theater shows in March 2020.

“The show is going to make its Broadway debut this summer, which is a huge deal because it’s always been off-Broadway,” Kimmel said. “He’s writing a whole new show for it, and they are going to have past stars in it. They’re going to come in and do cameos.”

Kimmel said there are numbers that are always in the show, such as “The Lion King” and “Les Misérables.”

“We keep them because they are crowd pleasers and they’re sort of the pillars of the show,” Kimmel said. “In between, we’ve changed things out and freshened it up if there is something new on Broadway and it’s more relevant. It’s hard to do Carol Channing anymore because people under 50 don’t really know her anymore.”

One spoof is on “Annie,” which opened on Broadway in 1977.

“The spoof is ‘Annie is now a granny,’” Kimmel said. “One of the newer ones is ‘Mary Poppins.’ There is a Mary Martin and Ethel Merman bit that we’ve never done.”

Although the show is a parody with some biting jokes, Kimmel said it’s lighthearted fun.

“(Alessandrini) never wanted people to think we hated Broadway. We’re lampooning it because we adore Broadway,” Kimmel said. “He’s a brilliant parody lyricist.”

Danaan, a 29-year-old New York City resident, has never performed in “Forbidden Broadway” but he recalled hearing the numbers for the first time when he was around 10 years old. He said the costume changes are difficult, but the hardest part for him is learning all the words.

“It’s costumes on top of costumes,” Danaan said. “It’s all songs we know the Broadway lyrics to, but it’s relearning the songs with the ‘Forbidden Broadway’ lyrics. You only have time to think about what you are doing and then you move on to the next thing. It’s exhausting but it’s so much fun.”

His favorite number is his solo spoofing “Memories” from “Cats.”

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