Desert Foothills Theater to Present A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, 2/14-3/2

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Desert Foothills Theater to Present A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, 2/14-3/2Desert Foothills Theater (DFT), a division of the Foothills Community Foundation, presents "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" running Fri., Feb. 14 through Sun., March 2 in the Black Box Theatre of Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center, 33606 N. 60th Street, in North Scottsdale.

Stephen Sondheim's multiple-Tony-winning musical farce-set in Ancient Rome but ageless in its tunes and gags-comes to DFT in a madcap melange of multiple mix-ups, musical merriment, and men in muumuus. And lots of slamming doors.

Sondheim himself called Forum's plot (by comedy veterans Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart - of M.A.S.H. fame) "the tightest, most satisfyingly plotted and gracefully written farce I've ever encountered."

DFT's production is directed by Sara Bernstein with musical direction by Reynaldo Saez. A long-time advocate of DFT, Bernstein said she jumped at the chance to direct the popular musical. "I have directed a lot of tragic musicals recently, so I looked forward to a process that allowed all to laugh, play, and goof around while still creating something terrific for an audience," she said.

She also seized the opportunity to create a new setting for the show.

"Traditionally, the show is set on a street in Rome but we have chosen to set it in a hallway in modern day Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas," Bernstein said. "Costumes have changed, the set has changed, but the characters, music, and book have remained the same. I am thinking of it as a Shakespeare play where directors find new but relevant settings for the original dialogue."

Directing a cast of 20 in a true farce has been rewarding, especially as Bernstein sees the growth of cast members as they grow into their characters and play off of each other's energy.

"There aren't many musicals that take on this challenge. Mistaken identities, characters in drag, love gone wrong, and some door slamming. Comic timing is imperative!" she said.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. A special 2 p.m. performance featuring a Q&A after the show will take place on Sun., Feb. 16. Tickets range from $15-$32 for adults and $11-$16 for youth and students. Group sale discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Visit www.dftheater.org or call (480) 488-1981.

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