Rent, Les Miz, Wicked, Chicago, Into the Woods, Mamma Mia, Spamalot, Cats, Hairspray (stage and movie versions), A Chorus Line and even beloved musical moppet Annie undergo a going over in this high-leerious send-up of all things Bee-way. You don't have to be a show queen to get all the jokes in Forbidden Broadway, but if you know one, take 'im with you to explain them during intermish.

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If you haven't seen The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee yet, you're sure to trip over it soon. The William Finn musical about six geeky adolescents competing for the county spelling trophy looks to be the new Rocky Horror, popping up over the next few months at community theaters and on college stages around North Texas. Right now it's at Onstage in Bedford, a small community playhouse that's been doing interesting work lately.

With this show, however, director Kyle Macy has mucked around with Bee's deceptively simple concept. Six young adults always play the kids, but here the actors, with one exception, overdo the cutesy stuff, pulling faces and throwing themselves around like limp rag dolls. Jeff Walters plays hippie child Leaf Coneybear in such a state of physical spazz-out it's hard to understand what he's saying or singing. As star speller William Barfee, Nathan Erwin takes a disarmingly self-possessed character and makes him into a rude little bully.

Even without the pipe,
Theatre Three actor Chuck Huber&#146;s sexy Sherlock Holmes is smokin&#146;.
Jeffrey Schmidt
Even without the pipe, Theatre Three actor Chuck Huber’s sexy Sherlock Holmes is smokin’.

Details

Sherlock Holmes in the Crucifer of Blood continues at Theatre Three through September 5. Call 214-871-3300.

Forbidden Broadway! continues at Kalita Humphreys Theater through August 29. Call 214-219-2718.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee continues at Onstage in Bedford through August 22. Call 817-354-6444.

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In the Bedford ensemble, only Amanda Gupton, as neglected latchkey kid Olive Ostrovsky, trusts the material enough to be small and still when she approaches center stage for her solo. Her plaintive song to her absent mama (nicely sung by Kristin Spires, who also plays the bee's emcee, Miss Perretti) is a highlight. The rest of this production is just an m-e-s-s.

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