Monday, November 20, 2017


The Company of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum  Photo by Chelsea Sutton
When Bert Shevelove, Larry Gelbart and Stephen Sondheim rolled out the idea for A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM fifty five years ago, winning Tonys and starting something that has been fodder for laugh after laugh ever since,  every Psuedolus (Paul C. Vogt... to be shared with Joey McIntyre on odd dates) since has hoped to touch the hem of Zero Mostel's toga.  Classic lines and 'Comedy Tonight' leaps at that hem currently playing at the Garry Marshall Theatre.  Taking a cue from Restoration Farce this spunky cast mounts Fred Kinney's excellent set, complete with Roman columns and flashing lights, spiral staircases and an actual dancers' pole to make us laugh.

It's a story of three houses and their occupants, a couple of slaves and some ladies at the beck and call of Licus (E.K. Dagenfield,) the guy in charge of the House of Some Repute stage left. In the peppier second act Dagenfield stops the show... literally, as Erronius, the really old guy whose children ... years ago.. were kidnapped by pirates.

But back to Pseudulos and the loosey goosey plot. Pseudulos is a slave and works for the house of Senex (Kevin Symons) who is brutally whipped .. so to speak...  by his harpy spouse, Domina (Candi Milo) whose appearance as a broken bust has one of the best lines in the show. Senex returns from a journey early to get the broken nose of Domina's bust re-sharpened! 

Stars of this production are three of the hardest working whores in Lycus's stable:  Shamika Benn, Liz Bustle and Vanessa Nichole.  These protean princesses change character at the drop of a hat and never lose a beat. Strong dance moves and excellent timing!

Pseudolus wants his freedom. Senex's son, the moony Hero ( Michael Thomas Grant) has fallen for a gal that we think might be in Licus's stable, but nooo.. She, is, in fact..  the very blonde Philia (Nicole Kaplan) whose takes to the audience rival every Disney bunny that was ever surprised. She's a virgin! And, has been sold to the Captain: Miles Glorius (Clayton Snyder) whom we meet as he bounces in to save the second act! 
Courtesans (Liz Bustle, Shamicka Benn, and Vanessa Nichole), Miles Glorious (Clayton Snyder) and Pseudolus (Paul C. Vogt) in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum at the Garry Marshall Theatre. Photo by Chelsea Sutton
All Pseudolus has to do is figure out how to wangle Hero and Philia together and collect his freedom.  

It takes a while for the team to get rolling, but thanks to familiar tunes and the brilliant script, mistaken identity, female impersonation (Ethan Cohn as Hysterium), quick changes and an attitude of Sans Souci .. just about everyone gets what they deserve. 

In his program notes Director Joseph Leo Bwarie mentions Titus Maccius Plautus, an early.. really early.. Roman playwright for the inspiration that evolved into Commedia, on into Vaudeville and Burlesque (much of which is on the chopping block right now.. but we may recover) that we recall with joy in the opening number, "Comedy Tonight!" Corny jokes and physical silliness need big, big energy to play properly.  This one will rise to Zero's toga as the run runs on. 

By Bert Shevelove, Larry Gelbart 
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim 
Through December 31, 2017
Garry Marshall Theatre
4252 W Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA 91505
Tickets and information 
Apologies for the wonky way the captions for these photos show up.  Figuring out the spacing has eluded me. ms



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