A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum
By: Patrick Christiano
Marcia Milgrom Dodge has crafted a delightfully zany crowd pleasing revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," and her energetic huge cast has stormed onto the Bay Street Mainstage with playful glee and perfect timing. Dodge has directed and choreographed the vibrantly funny tale about a clever slave Pseudolus (Peter Scolari) struggling to win his freedom by bringing Philia (Lora Lee Gayer), a virgin courtesan, together with his young smitten master Hero (Nick Verina), a virgin himself. One major problem Philia has been sold by a crafty courtesan dealer Marcus Lycus (Laurent Giroux) to a handsome warrior (Nathaniel Hackmann).
The book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart was inspired by the comedies of the ancient Roman playwright Plautus, and the plot has many classic elements of farce, puns, slamming doors, chases with mistaken identities where characters disguise themselves as one another, which the spirited cast under Dodge’s study direction mines for every possible laugh. The opening Sondheim song , Comedy Tonight, sets the tone and the cast never lets the air out for a joyful ride that will keep you laughing and smiling throughout
The set alone by Michael Schweikardt awash with vibrant bold colors of deep orange, red and robin blue is almost worth the price of admission. There is a series of doors and two balconies trimmed in gold, which the cast will make use of with entrances and exits that work wonderfully. Every member of the extraordinary cast has committed themselves fully making for a marvelous ensemble. The remaining characters are Senex (Conard John Schuck), a henpecked husband, his dominating wife Domina (Jackie Hoffman), their head slave Hysterium (Tom Deckman), the courtesans of Marcus (Halley Cianfarini, Jen Bechter, Jessica Crouch, Shiloh Goodin, Phoebe Pearl, and Terry Lavell), the chorus of Proteans playing multiple roles (Glenn Giron, Grant Haralson, and J. Morgan White) and Senex’s elderly neighbor Erronius (Stewart Lane), who has been searching 20 years for his two children that were kidnapped by pirates when they were infants .
There is a five piece band consisting of piano (Ethyl Will), drums (Ed Chiarello), trumpet (Dan Yager), trumpet (Dan Yager) bass (Mark Verdino) and flute (Joel Levy) add witty support of the 14 musical numbers.
The Forum at Bay Street is a great way to spend a summer evening, a marvelous show with something for everyone. Bring your family and friends and celebrate the joy of laughter.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
is playing on the Mainstage at Bay Street Theatre through September 1, 2013. For tickets call 631-725-0818 or online at ww.baystreet.org
Photos: Jerry Lamonica and Lenny Stucker
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