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A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
a Musical Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY MUSICAL
by Stephen Sondheim, Larry Gelbart

COMPANY : Blackwell Playhouse
VENUE : Blackwell Playhouse
ID# 3418

SHOWING : July 10, 2009 - August 08, 2009

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart.

Inspired by the farces of the ancient Roman playwright Plautus (251–183 BC), specifically Pseudolus, Miles Gloriosus and Mostellaria, it tells the bawdy story of a slave named Pseudolus and his attempts to win his freedom by helping his young master woo the girl next door. The plot displays many classic elements of farce, including puns, the slamming of doors, cases of mistaken identity (frequently involving characters disguising themselves as one another), and satirical comments on social class. The title derives from the line that vaudeville comedians often used to begin a story: "A funny thing happened on the way to the theater".

The musical's original 1962 Broadway run won several Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Book. A Funny Thing has enjoyed several Broadway and West End revivals and was made into a successful film. This show is directed by Rob Hardie and music directed by Annie Cook.


CAST & CREW LIST
Artistic Director John Christian
Director Rob Hardie
Lighting Designer Brian Clements
Music Director Annie Cook
Co-Costume Brad Dickey
Choreographer Katie O'Neill
protean Stephen Banks
Panacea Aretha Burton
Protean Thomas Byrd
Vibrata Becca Chism
Miles Gloriosus Brian Clements
Senex Brad Dickey
Gemini Jennifer Fischler
Marcus Lycus Ali Gutierrez
Hysterium Patrick Hill
Hero Jonathan Horne
Gymnasia Kirsten Milliken
Gemini Ashley Morris
Philia Katie O'Neill
Protean Jordan Prince
Pseudolus Zip Rampy
Eronius Murray Sarkin
Domina Anita Stratton
Tintanabula Amanda Whittle
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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When In Rome...
by MrPurple
Saturday, July 25, 2009
4.5
I realize that my reviews are considered to be harsh, maybe over critical. I was on the verge of lightening up on my standards. Maybe, just maybe my expatations were to high. Then I saw The Blackwell Playhouse production of "...Forum". And I feel so good that i can give praise to a show, without lowering my standards. From the off kilter set to the iventive gags-this is one hell of an evening. I have seen this how in 5 different incarnations, and the only rival to this show would be the Tavern's version. This is funny and fast paced. Zip Rampy is amazinga s the lead- A slave trying to get freedom. He does not give a copy cat performance, but instead uses actor's like Mostell & Lane as a launching pad. He makes it completely his own. Patrick Hill did not just paly Hysterium, he was Hysterium. He milked every laugh out of evry comedy soaked rag. The other actors are nothing to sneeze at. Brian Clements gives a unique take on Miles (The Captain) that works. There was a risk taken there, but it paid off. Jonathan Horne and Katie Onille as the two lovers were perfectly cast. Usually they are throw away characters-but not here. Add to that an energized cast of support and this show flies. Much credit must be given to the directing staff. The gags keep on coming and 90% of them work. This is not easy, and again it was a risk. The director had to go "All in" and hope to have a winning hand. They do here. Now-this show is not without some flaws. People went into shadows at times, and a couple of smaller roles seemed lost at times. In this case, it doesn't affect the show too much. With that, I will give it an "almost 5". Bottom line- this is how musical comedy should be done. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Gods of the Theatre, Smile on Us!
by Dedalus
Friday, July 24, 2009
4.5
(Bias Disclaimer: I recently worked on a production at Blackwell Playhouse, I’m friends with “Forum” director Rob Hardie, and I’m acquainted with a good chunk of the cast. I have no idea whether this predisposes me to like anything they do, or to be overly critical of anything they do).

Friends, Actors, Countrymen, lend me your ears. I come today to praise this play of Ancient Rome, not to bury it. If you like to laugh, if the silliest of excess is your reason for existence, if Gods of the Theatre pointing at goings-on and snickering is your idea of good time, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Forum” is probably a better choice than “Two Old Guys Talking About Silence.”

Walking into the dim theatre, we’re greeted with the sight of three houses crowding onto Blackwell’s small stage, their perspectives askew, their stucco slathered with the entire Crayola palette. We’re serenaded by the likes of Monty Python, Weird Al Yankovic, Tom Lehrer, and Allan Sherman. The Latinate inscription of “E Pluribus Boobum” across the lintel of one of the houses promises that subtlety will not be part of the evening’s menu.

Then Zip Rampy comes on, sings about comedy, and we’re off on a non-stop flurry of preposterousness, gags, romance, gags, lusty ladies and the men who lust for them, gags, music, and gags. The ratio of gags-that-hit to gags-that-miss is ridiculously high, and the whole thing whizzes by in a fast-paced fog that beggars description.

The critic in me wants to pooh-pooh the choice made by Brian Clements to play the thick-skulled Miles Gloriosus with quiet-voiced sarcasm (which, by definition, implies intelligence), and I would, if I weren’t laughing so hard at the results. I’d want to savage the lighting designer for making the musical numbers dimmer than the book scenes surrounding them (not to mention chastising the actors for rampant inability to “find their light”), and I would, if I weren’t laughing so much. I’d want to knock on director Rob Hardie’s round head for letting the pace slow down at the climactic chase scene, and I would, if I weren’t laughing so much.

Through all the laughter, though, I DO have to praise the aforementioned Zip Rampy, who gives Pseudolus all the expected comic flourishes I’ve seen in a thousand other productions of this show, and still surprises with a plethora of Rampy-specific flourishes I’d never seen before. Patrick Hill is wonderfully hysterical as Hysterium, Jonathan Horne is a nicely gangly and awkward Hero, Katie O’Neill is one of the hottest (and dimmest) virginal Philias I’ve seen, and Murray Sarkin’s Erronius stops the show every time he crosses the stage.

All the singers fit Sondheim’s songs to a “T” and none of them are overpowered by the Piano and Violin tag-team that accompanies them. The choreography works, especially in the courtesan dances during “House of Marcus Lycus.” That it was all done on a beautifully designed, nicely constructed set (designed by Reed Higgins) is just icing on the olive oil.

But, ultimately, it’s the laughs, the humor that sell this show. This is a show where absurdity reigns supreme, where anachronism is the rule, and where no pun (or theatrical allusion) is too low to be conquered. This is where the play succeeds, where it takes off and flies. Yes, there were a lot of things that were crudely (even ineptly) done, a lot of choices that strove for the laugh rather than for the “real moment.” But, when all is said and done, when you laugh as much as I did, when you leave the theatre with such a warm and fuzzy feeling of well-done, none of that critic-stuff matters.

So, friends and comrades, if you would laugh yourself into stitches, hitch up your horses, and wend your chariot’s path Blackwell-ward. It’s definitely a Comedy Tonight!

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)
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Guys in Togas are Soooo Hot!!
by Sweet Babboo
Sunday, July 19, 2009
4.5
This statement has nothing to do with my review I just wanted to use it as my header.

Anyhoo...I had a blast last Friday night at this production! Rob Hardie does it again with another entertaining and well designed and executed show. He must work attached to a Red Bull IV drip. Here is my general yet humble opinions:

Something Familiar: A great book by Larry Gelbart and Stephen Sondheim's classic, toe-tapping first score (for both music and lyrics) from 1962. It holds up very well today and is one of my personal favorites.

Something Peculiar: Hardie injects a plethura of modern pop culture references and gag props into the show. Most of them work and a few are downright inspired. I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I think it's a hoot. Hardie even makes a charming cameo late in Act Two. But I won't divulge anything else. You'll just have to see for it yourself.

Something for Everyone!: This show is just pure fun and doesn't try to be anything else - which is why is succeeds so well.

The casting in this production is practically perfect in every way. There is not a weak link in the entire first-rate ensemble. Zip Rampy is a treasure as Psuedolus. He is vocally top notch and makes the character his own without having to borrow humor from the many famous Broadway actors who've won Tonys playing this dream role. He carries the show like a pro. The always delightful Patrick Hill as Hysterium is, well, hysterical. Jonathan Horne and Katie O'Neill are funny and adorable as the clueless young lovers. Brad Dickey and Anita Stratton are splendid as the bickering Senex and Domina. Brian Clements takes the John Wayne in The Greatest Story Every Told approach to the imposing blowhard Miles Gloriosus and knocks it out of the ballpark...or Colossuem. And Murray Sarkin just about steals the show as the hapless, befuddled Eronius.

Kudos also to Reed Higgins for a simple yet wonderful set that invokes titters from the audience even before the oveture starts. The technicolor costumes are of professional quality. The small orchestra consisting of Alex Lipskey, Annie Cook and Ryan Harris do an admirable job and even get to join in on the hijinks.

This show is the perfect summer night treat for musical theatre lovers. Don't miss it! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Comedy Tonight!
by WendyR
Saturday, July 18, 2009
4.0
Blackwell Playhouse’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum provided a very enjoyable evening of theater. Despite several replacements (according to the program), the main characters were well cast and there was some solid acting on that stage. Standouts included Zip Rampy as Pseudolus, whose singing was spot-on, and Patrick Hill as Hysterium, who played his part perfectly. In fact, the height of the show was their duet in Act II. Other notable performances were those of Brad Dickey (who I overheard had only one week of rehearsals) and Jonathan Horne --- who never, ever once broke character.

My biggest complaint with this production might be its “campiness.” This show is funny, it is written funny… And director Rob Hardie added some very cute “bits” to the opening number. However, a joke gets old when it is repeated over and over. He had a great book and score and a good cast; some of the additions were clearly not necessary and detracted (at least for me) from the quality of the show.

Still, all in all, I would recommend this show. It is great fun and well performed. Do not “offend the gods” – go to the theater!

-Wendy Robyns [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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