The comedy value in this episode of The Seth Concert Series was off the scale. Christine Pedi has done several productions of the Forbidden Broadway series, a parody show that has had runs in London as well as New York. That show’s writer and director, Gerard Alessandrini, also had Pedi as part of his Forbidden Hollywood series, which, as the title suggests, parodies motion pictures rather than musical productions. That wasn’t the only source of humour for this online concert, which ended with a medley of sendups of various people impersonated and reimagined in a hypothetical production of Les Misérables – I couldn’t help but agree that Colm Wilkinson does sound more than a bit like Cher. Or at least he does the way Pedi parodies him.
I have no idea if Wilkinson is aware of Pedi’s caricature, but he is aware of Forbidden Broadway, and even quoted it when he performed a one-off concert at the West End’s Lyceum Theatre in 2013. Elaine Stritch reimagined as Madame Thenardier was a highlight for me, as was Eartha Kitt reimagined as Inspector Javert. Like many guests in this concert series, Pedi was able to speak at length about past experiences, and the topics of conversation here were very broad, from her pet dog Clarence to the positive benefits of school uniforms.
And then there was Newsical The Musical, which I am unfamiliar with, mostly because it (unlike Forbidden Broadway) hasn’t had a London production. Pedi reprised a song about Mother Nature and global warming: “I guess we can’t have nice things, like water and air that’s clean.” This being Mother’s Day in the United States (and other places), there were some tributes to mothers, from the rather touching ‘Mama, A Rainbow’ from the short-lived 1970 Broadway musical Minnie’s Boys to the slightly surprising choice of ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ from the Rodgers and Hart musical Babes in Arms.
Pedi hadn’t seen a Broadway show until her high school years, despite having lived in New York state since birth. She attended an all-girls Roman Catholic school, which she didn’t find overly disciplinarian, perhaps partly because they were open-minded enough to put on plays, which is in turn how she discovered what she wanted to do in life. Besides a couple of years in “community theatre” there were the non-theatre jobs, too, such as being a runner in a restaurant (‘running’ orders from customers to the kitchen and ‘running’ food from the kitchen to customers), and there has almost certainly been some side hustling going on again during the pandemic.
The great thing about Pedi’s performances is that they come across as easily done, though it’s also evident some of the impressions and impersonations have been honed and refined over many years. And long may it continue.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Christine Pedi’s award-winning cabaret shows have played all over the USA, London, South Africa & several of the 7 seas. She’s the daily host of SiriusXM radio’s On Broadway channel and on Saturdays dukes it out on the air with Seth Rudetsky on “The Dueling Divas.” Theatre credits include: Broadway’s Chicago as Mama Morton, Talk Radio, Little Me, and Off Broadway’s long-running satirical revues Newsical and Forbidden Broadway (Drama Desk nomination). “The Lady of 1000 Voices,” her vocal impressions can be seen and heard on YouTube, The Howard Stern Show and assorted commercials and cartoons. On Television she can be seen on the upcoming Dr. Death on NBC Peacock and was a “dead Soprano” (Mrs Bobby Baccala – He loved her so much he couldn’t defrost her ziti). Recordings include her solo cd Good To Mama.
CHRISTINE PEDI with SETH RUDETSKY
Sunday, May 9th Live at 3:00 PM ET and Rebroadcast at 8:00 PM ET