Theatre Mirror Reviews - "A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to The Forum"

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entire contents copyright 2002 by Tony Annicone

"A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to The Forum"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Combine the hilarious illogical antics of Latin comedy with the zany nonsense of vaudeville and you have "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", the current show at Theatre Works. "Forum" was Stephen Sondheim's first show in 1962 as both composer and lyricist. The storyline concerns Pseudolus, a slave to a Roman family, who schemes to become free. His young master, Hero promises freedom if Pseudolus can obtain a beautiful young girl, Philia, for him. Numerous other characters included a befuddled father with a shrewish wife, courteseans, their pimp, a narcissistic Roman captain and a nervous slave. Director Connie Anderson casts the roles of these crazy characters very well while music director, Katie Estrella not only leads the orchestra but taught all the difficult Sondheim to the cast with ease, making this a comedy which will bring you much laughter on a cold winter night.

Mark Anderson is excellent in the leading role of Pseudolus. This man is a whirling dervish of activity from start to finish, delivering his multitude of humourous lines and lengthy songs while charming the audience. Mark's relationships with his fellow cast members is astounding. He interacts with them all perfectly. Great job in an enormous role. His young master, Hero is played by Ryan Latour who has a beautiful singing voice. He displays the naive young man in his first song called "Love I Hear" and delivers the goods throughout the show with his strong acting ability. One of my favorite numbers is "Impossible" which Ryan sings with his father about contrasting viewpoints of love. Ryan also sparkles in his scenes with Jessica Roch who plays the dumb but beautiful, Philia. Jessica's soprano voice soars in all her numbers especially "Lovely" and "That Will Show Him". In the first she sings about how she can't do anything but look beautiful and in the latter about how she will show her affection for intended groom while thinking about Hero while doing it. A winning duo showing off their talents at a young age.

The biggest scene stealers of the night have to be narrowed down to four. The dotty father, Senex played by Christopher Kibbe is very funny in his pursuit of the virgin and in his misunderstanding the craziness around him. He thinks the virgin is a maid and the song "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid" is another one of my favorites His domineering wife, Domina played by Lisa Forsgard,is a laugh riot with her every line and entrance into a scene. She commands the stage brilliantly and sells her "Dirty Old Man" song about wanting to wring her husband's neck while still wanting him beautifully. Steven Slate is a hoot as Hysterium, the hysterical slave. He gets kicked in the rear and gets yelled at constantly. But when he dresses up as the virgin in the second act, sings how lovely he looks clad in a blonde wig and white dress with a veil, it will definitely leave you in stiches. The last but least of the scene stealers is John Pacheco as Miles Gloriosus. This guy has a phenomenal baritone voice which he uses in "Bring Me My Bride" and "Funeral Sequence". John also captures the vain, snooty behavior of this Roman soldier, making many humourous moments in the show. His fright when atop the two story sight is a laugh out loud moment especially when he looks like his going to topple off it.

Rounding out this cast is Jamieson Schiff, Joe Casey, Brian Lemieux, Eric Desnoyers, Ben Christiano, Tina Brouillette, Andrea Grondines, Breah Dolf, Melissa Joseph and Marissa Kurtzner. Special mention to Connie and Mark Anderson for a fantastic set, complete with second story roof playing area and the three house set. Also added kudos to costume designer, Sharon Charette who designed the numerous gorgeous togas, dresses and army wear. The colors for each character told the audience exactly the kind of person they would be. (Bright red for Domina, white for Philia, light blue for Hero and royal blue for Senex.) So for a fun filled evening of musical hilarity be sure to catch "Forum" at Theatre Works. Tell them Tony sent you.

"A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to The Forum" (14 - 29 March)
1 (401) 766-1898

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide