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Wildwood Summer Theatre A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum

By • Jul 26th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
Wildwood Summer Theatre
Bethesda-Chevy-Chase High School, Bethesda, MD
Through August 4th
2:20 with one intermission
$17/$15 Seniors/$10 Students
Reviewed July 23rd, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is a musical comedy with book by Burt Shrevelove and Larry Gelbart, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Psedulous the slave has one goal in mind, to be free (don’t start singing yet). He thinks he has found a way when his master Hero tells him he will get his freedom if Hero gets his love, the courtesan Philia. Psedulous also has to juggle Hero’s parents, a warrior and his soldiers, and the other beautiful courtesans living next door. All this sounds easy, but since this is a musical comedy in two acts, we know it takes a while for there to be a happy ending.

Funny Thing has the potential to be hysterical. Unfortunately Wildwood’s production was uneven. While some bits were quite well done, overall the humor was hit or miss. Some of the funniest individual lines were tossed away as if the performer couldn’t wait to get back to the physical humor. For example, the final two minutes of the show is when everything wraps up into a nice happy ending. But instead of being amazed at the revelations that are discovered, and giving the audience the opportunity to absorb and react, the cast hurried through the scene and jumped quickly into the curtain call (and the closing commercial). The dance moves were also not consistent as some of the cast had little idea what was going on and others were right in step with the music.

Sean Finan as the slave Psedulous tried and mostly succeeded in keeping the pace up and the emotions real. Finan was constantly on the move trying to get Hero and his love on the boat in the harbor so he could go his own merry way. Hysterium, the head slave to Senex (Devin Goodman) and Domina (Alex Palmer) got along well with Psedulous. The witty repartee was pretty funny when the two of them got together to figure out what to do next. Their number together “Free” was performed well. The Courtesan Philia, in love with Hero yet contracted to the warrior Miles Gloriosus, was played convincingly by Katherine Worley. Her sexiness balanced nicely with the blank stare that so often accompanied her entrances.

Conductor Matt Eisenberg’s orchestra students all played nicely and the music stayed lively for the performance, although at many times overwhelmed the singing. The high school auditorium was huge and the sound bounced all over the place. It looked like only a few actors had microphones. Hero’s mic sounded muddy and Miles’ mic was never turned on it seemed. Maybe the area mics weren’t capable of capturing all the voices?

Scenic Designer S. Lewis Feemster’s set was colorful and tall, which allowed for much running, climbing, falling, and dancing by the cast. Costume Designer Melissa Gilbert used lots of bright colors to accent the characters. It was quite distracting though to see modern-day clothing (striped boxers and gold spandex?) peeking out under tunics and skirts. Will Bartlett’s lighting design was generally effective at underscoring each scene’s emotions.

A Funny thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is a funny musical with potential that this production did not quite reach.

Director’s Note

Thank you so much for joining us for Wildwood Summer Theatre’s production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. This how is a true musical comedy-ridiculous plot twists, catchy songs, witty repartee, slapstick physicality, and plenty of “frenzy and frolic.” The cast and I have reveled in mining the silliness and mirth of the musical for as many jokes as possible, and have had many uproarious rehearsals. However, Forum primarily focuses on a character struggling to gain the most basic human right-to be treated and seen as a person, not a piece of property. Psedulous’ determined quest for his freedom is what sets riotous scenario after scenario in motion. The stakes in this musical are unbelievably high – especially for the quick-thinking slave who is fed up with living life as a second-class citizen. I have a great love for Forum because it balances levity with deep and sometimes heartbreaking needs. While Psedulous’ quest is perhaps the most exaggerated version of reaching for freedom, many of the other characters are fighting for the right to make your own destiny, etc. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is as concerned with pratfalls as it is with human dignity. I have been truly blessed with a company that has been quick to embrace both the ridiculous elements of Forum as well as the desperation that so many of its characters feel. I have had a great time working on this production-enjoy the show!

Megan Behm, Director

Cast

  • Prologus, and actor: Sean Finan
  • Senex, an old man: Devin Goodman
  • Domina, his wif: Laura Cole
  • Hero, his son, in love with Philia: Mason Catharini
  • Hysterium, slave to senex and Domina: Alex Palmer
  • Pseudolus, slave to Hero: Sean Finan
  • Lycus, a buyer and seller of courtesans: Gary Thompson
  • Panacea, a courtesan: Maryann Moses
  • The Geminae, courtesans: Gabriela Schulman, Alyssa Newberg
  • Vibrata, a courtesan: Courtney James
  • Gymnasia, a courtesan: Shabnam Salek
  • Philia, a virgin: Katherine Worley
  • Erronius, an old man: Zak Marsh
  • Miles Gloriosus, a warrior: Jeff Miller
  • The Proteans: Rocky Nunzio, Maxim Sobchenko, Jehan Silva, Tyler Hanson, Daniel Woolson, Connor Monroe Lugo-Harris

The Staff

  • Producer: Jeanie McAlpine
  • Associate Producer: Mattia D’Affuso
  • Director of public Relations: Lauren Fagan
  • Assistant Director of public Relations: Rocky Nunzio
  • Director of fundraising: Ceecee Tao
  • Director: Megan Behm
  • Music Director: William Yanesh
  • Choreographer: Namrata Mohanty
  • Conductor: Matt Eisenberg
  • Assistant Conductor: Rose Weich
  • Production Stage Manager: Jeremy Hollis
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Liz Bragale
  • Technical Director: Robert Brownstein
  • Assistant Technical Director: Jay Koby
  • Scenic Designer: S. Lewis Feemster
  • properties Designer: Kimberely Lartz
  • Scenic Artist: Hannah Schott
  • Costume Designer: Meliss Gilbert
  • Lighting Designer: Will Bartlett
  • Sound designer: Melanie Keys
  • The Crew: Robert Brownstein, Jay Koby, Jason Austria, Will Bartlett, Mason Catharini, Jamie Davis, Rebecca Goldman, Emma Hardin, Pierson Higareda, Jeremy Hollis, Patrick Lbanez, Carolyn Kidd, Limberely Lartz, Sebastian Lopez, Evan Lund, Keeley Mahoney, Jeanie McAlpine, Maryann Moses, Rocky Nunzio, Rachel Patterson, Coleman Quimby, Hannah Schott, Elise Tonelson, Sam Weich

The Orchestra

  • Matt Eisenberg, Conductor
  • Rose Weich, Assistant Conductor
  • Woodwinds: Alisha Bhore, Jonathan Cothran, Sarah Gitterman, Linda Krasniewski, Joseph Wang, Rose Weich
  • Trumpets: Richar Gray, Itai Yasur
  • French Horn: Sam Weich
  • Trombones: Evan Middleton, Josh Jenkins
  • piano: Alex Greenberg
  • Cello: paul Buehler
  • Bass: Sara Korpeck
  • Percussion: Alex Krasniewski, Julius Verzosa

Disclaimer: Wildwood Summer Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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