Geoffrey Rush to Headline FORUM in Australia as Pseudolus
Geoffrey Rush will lead John Frost's production of Sondheim's A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM when it opens in Melbourne Saturday, October 27 at Her Majesty's Theatre. The show will be directed by Simon Phillips and will feature a cast of Australian comedy actors, according to funnything.com.au.
"I've long thought that the lead role might have been written for Geoffrey", director Simon Phillips told funnything.com.au.
The full cast list is set to be announced at the end of the month. Rehersals begin in Septemeber and tickets will go on sale on June 21.
Inspired by the farces of the ancient Roman playwright Plautus, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, with book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, earned several Tony awards, including best musical and best book in its original 1962 Broadway run.
Geoffrey Rush has now celebrated 40 years as an Australian actor, achieving the rare international distinction of the 'Triple Crown' – an Oscar, a Tony and an Emmy. He also has three Australian Film Institute honors, three British Academy Awards, two Golden Globes, four Screen Actors' Guild Awards, and last year was inducted into the ranks of Australia's elite with a Helpmann Award.
When he received his fourth Academy Award nomination playing Australian therapist Lionel Logue in The King's Speech which he also executively produced, the revival of Belvoir's The Diary of a Madman played to acclaim in Sydney and in New York. He starred in and executive-produced Fred Schepisi's film of PatRick White's Nobel Laureate-winning novel The Eye of the Storm, and played Lady Bracknell in the MTC's celebrated production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
Seen as a creative mentor by many, Geoffrey philanthropically supports young actors and arts companies. He is Patron of the Melbourne International Film Festival; of Toowoomba's Empire Theatre Foundation distributing bursaries to young performers; and of the Spina Bifida Foundation Victoria. He is an Ambassador for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and UNICEF Australia. In 2011 he was honoured to be appointed as foundation President of the newly-established Australian Academy Of Cinema and Television Arts.
After writing the lyrics for "West Side Story" and "Gypsy" (to music of Leonard Bernstein and Jule Styne respectively), "Forum" gave the then 32-year-old Stephen Sondheim his first opportunity to write the music and lyrics for a show, marking his third consecutive hit show.
While the setting and the characters were vaguely Roman, the show really is an homage to American burlesque and a kind of outrageous stage comedy, which has given its various stars some of the funniest and sharpest material to ever be part of a Broadway musical.
The original production, which opened in 1962 at the Alvin Theatre (now the Neil Simon Theatre), played 964 performances - still the longest Broadway run for a Stephen Sondheim-written musical. The original cast included Zero Mostel (Pseudolus) and Jack Gilford (Hysterium).
Mostel and Michael Crawford (as Hero) appeared in the 1966 film version. In 1974, Phil Silvers headlined and won a Tony for this 156-performance revival. A Broadway revival opened in 1996, for which Nathan Lane won a Tony as Pseudolus. Whoopi Goldberg was among his replacements, necessitating some minor book adjustments to accommodate the gender switch.