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In one form or another, this New York-born show by Gerard Alessandrini has been around for over thirty years.

However, with regular updating to keep it fresh, Forbidden Broadway still provides a great night out on its infrequent cross-Atlantic appearances in London.

And if you can’t afford West End prices to catch all those high-profile musicals, these fast-paced parodies will give you a taste of what you’ve been missing as Alessandrini keeps the tunes whilst ditching the original lyrics.

This is the second time (the first was in 2009) that the Menier has mounted a production. Some of the old skits are still there - but then it would be criminal to ditch the glorious spoof on the everlasting “Les Mis” which has the uniformly fabulous cast of four on a perpetual revolve as they contemplate “Ten Years More”.

It helps, of course, that much of the music is familiar, and my companion (not quite a musical virgin, but hardly an aficionado) laughed every bit as much as I did as, with quick-fire changes of wig and wardrobe, Damian Humbley, Anna-Jane Casey (doing a mean Liza Minelli), Sophie-Louise Dann and Ben Lewis  morphed into characters from shows as diverse as “Once” and “The Book of Mormon,” “Miss Saigon” and “Wicked”.

There’s the odd dud moment which could be sharper, but, most of the time, Philip George’s nifty production is a real treat.

And if you want to find out for yourself just how unjustified Stephen Sondheim’s reputation for composing tuneless music really is, watch out for returns for the tiny Union theatre’s revival of the cleverly titled Pacific Overtures, his 1970’s musical about the American 1850’s trade negotiations with Japan.

From the haunting melody of “There is No Other Way” to the catchy wit of “Chrysanthemum Tea” and the plaintive “Pretty Lady”, this simplified account of the westernisation of Japan is pure pleasure and director Michael Strassen’s all-male cast of thirteen (especially Ian Mowat, Marc Lee Joseph and Oli Reynolds) bring commitment and humour - not to mention several bare chests - to an unforgettable score.

Forbidden Broadway

When: Until August 16

Where: Menier Chocolate Factory, 53 Southwark Street, SE1 1RU

Tickets cost £25.00-£35.00 (Meal Deals £33.00-£39.50). Click here to book

Pacific Overtures

When: Until August 2

Where: Union Theatre, 204 Union Street, SE1 0LX

Tickets cost £20. Click here to book


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Theatre: Forbidden Broadway & Pacific Overtures
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