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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

a Musical Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY MUSICAL
by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart (book), Stephen Sondheim (songs)

COMPANY : Centerstage North Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Art Place - Mountain View
ID# 5193

SHOWING : December 08, 2017 - December 16, 2017

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Broadway’s greatest farce is light, fast-paced, witty, irreverent and one of the funniest musicals ever written. "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" takes comedy back to its roots, combining situations from time-tested, 2000-year-old comedies of Roman playwright, Plautus, with the infectious energy of classic vaudeville.
"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" is a nonstop laughfest in which Pseudolus, a crafty slave, struggles to win the hand of a beautiful, but slow-witted, courtesan named Philia for his young master, Hero, in exchange for freedom. The plot twists and turns with cases of mistaken identity, slamming doors and a showgirl or two.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Nancy Jensen
Miles Gloriosus Angel Escobedo
Prologus/Pseudolus Max Flick
Senex Robert Houk
Panacea Caryle McLaughlin
Protean Janine Myers
Vibrata Lisa Nelson
Hero John Parker
Erronius Murray Sarkin
Marcus Lycus Evan Weisman
Geminae Alyssa Wright
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Putting the "Ew" in "Amateur"
by playgoer
Monday, December 11, 2017
2.5
"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" is pretty much a foolproof comedy. The songs don’t further the action, but act more as a respite from the non-stop foolishness. So even with less-than-optimal singing voices, the comedy can still come across. But, in the case of CenterStage North’s production, just barely.

The set design by Neil and Nancy Jensen is attractive, with lots of skewed angles, but doesn’t do a real good job of masking actors awaiting entrances. Jeff Costello’s lighting design illuminates the show without any real flair, with its effect of flickering LED lights drawing attention up to the ceiling instead of enhancing the action. Jonathan Liles’ sound design balances microphones and an electronic soundtrack, with the head mikes occasionally firing up a little late. Nancy Jensen’s choice as musical director to use pre-recorded tracks doesn’t work well with the majority of the soloists, who would be much more comfortable with an accompaniment that followed them than one that requires them to come in on time.

Julie Resh’s costumes are one of the highlights of the show, although the tunic for Pseudolus (Max Flick) doesn’t accommodate the objects he needs to carry in pockets or any sort of disguise when he impersonates a soothsayer. Few characters have costume changes, but the ones that occur work well in the context of the show. Carlye McLaughlin’s choreography adds movement to the production, but sometimes in odd ways, particularly in the basic ballroom dancing of Hero (John Parker) and Philia (Karina Simonis).

Nancy Jensen’s direction seems to be gauged to a level of performers far above the abilities of most of her actors. The ideas are there, but not always the execution. The most off-kilter performance comes from Mr. Parker, whose conception of his character seems to be more "Buffoon" than "Hero." It’s a shame, because the best performance comes from his love interest, played by Karina Simonis with sweetness both of character and of voice. Generally good performances also come from McKenzie McCart as Domina, Janine Myers as a Protean, and Evan Weisman as Lycus. But seeing Jeff Bennett’s lips moving to echo his cue lines as Hysterium makes it clear that this is an amateur production, through and through.

Audiences always enjoy "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" because of the comedy inherent in the script. CenterStage North isn’t doing much to enhance the script other than to add a couple of forays into the audience that delight those few audience members singled out for special attention. You have to enjoy the show, but it’s because of the show itself, not this particular production. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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