Joshua Finkel to Direct 'FORUM' for Panic! Productions, 6/1-16

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Joshua-Finkel-Directs-FORUM-for-Panic-Productions-20010101

Panic! Productions closes its second season with the musical comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, June 1 through 16, at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts in Thousand Oaks. The popular musical farce, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, is directed by Broadway veteran Joshua Finkel, with music direction by Diann Alexander and choreography by Mona King.

Forum is a frenetic romp based on the ancient Roman comedies of Plautus. This newly imagined production preserves the classic show's structure, music, and book, while creating an interesting new framing device. Tapping into the show's famous opening number, "Comedy Tonight," Finkel has crafted a show-within-a-show concept, where a 1966 theatre troupe is putting on the show on the first day the Uniform Time Act, which made Daylight Savings Time a national law, has taken effect. Some cast members have forgotten to move their clocks forward-and a bit of confusion and chaos ensues.

"When first approached to direct this show for Panic! Productions, I was immediately excited by the idea," says Finkel, whose work as an actor and director ranges from Broadway and London's West End to extensive film and television credits. "When I started to study the show more closely, I was enticed by its structure and how cleverly it blended the elements of classic bawdy Roman Comedy with our American versions of that genre-Burlesque and Vaudeville. I wanted to try something new that would maintain the show's wonderful structure and book, but create an interesting new context."

Appearing in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum are Silas Benjamin, P.J. Wong, Paul Panico, Lisa Gaston, Kurt Kemper, Amanda Wanamaker, Keith Moreton, John Gaston, Bob Decker, Andrew Metzger, Alexandra Gonzales, Jamie Baer, Danielle Samson, Michelle Miller, Shanni Tal, Amber Langford, Chava Caiyem, and Heidi Appe.

"Panic! Productions is particularly excited to welcome Joshua Finkel as director of this production, says company founder Paul Panico. "Joshua is one of the most talented directors and performers of musical theatre working in Los Angeles, and we are pleased that he is sharing his theatrical gifts with our local theatre troupe."

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum opens Saturday, June 1 at 8 pm and continues Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm through June 16, with a special Thursday night performance at 8 pm on June 6. Tickets are $20/$18 student and seniors, and are available at www.hillcrestarts.com, by calling 805/381-1246, or by visiting the box office. The Hillcrest Center for the Arts is at 403 W. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks.

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