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A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM to Kick Off Season 16 at Stoneham Theatre

Stoneham Theatre opens Season 16 with Stephen Sondheim's riotously funny Broadway musical hit A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM. Performances run from September 10 - October 4, 2015.

With a Book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and originally produced on Broadway by Harold S. Prince, ...Forum takes comedy back to its roots, combining situations from time- tested, 2000-year-old comedies of Roman playwright Plautus with the infectious energy of classic vaudeville. This sexy and hilarious slapstick musical comedy will be co-directed by Producing Artistic Director Weylin Symes and Elliot Norton and IRNE Award-winner Ilyse Robbins. Robbins, who previously directed and choreographed Stoneham Theatre's How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, 42nd Street, and Thoroughly Modern Millie, among others, will also choreograph.

"I chose this show because it's really, really, funny - and at a time when Sondheim is constantly being produced, ....Forum feels like it's been a bit neglected. " shared Symes. A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM's original 1962 Broadway run won several Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Book. Successful revivals of the musical were done in 1972 and in 1996, both winning additional Tony Awards.

Broadway's greatest farce will have you rolling in the aisles as Pseudolus, a clever and scheming Roman slave, does just about anything to secure his freedom. Things don't exactly go as planned when he ventures to unite the girl next door with his infatuated master. When she turns out to be a virgin courtesan sold to a formidable Roman Captain, what will Pseudolus do?

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM features one role for a student actor as part of the young company comes to Mainstage program. "This program is such an asset to us as it often allows us to cast roles in a more age-appropriate manner. young company student Devin Bean gave the best audition we saw for the role of Philia. It was a very easy choice," says Symes. Additionally, cast member Angelo McDonough is an alumnus of Stoneham Theatre's young company.

Stoneham Theatre's production of ...Forum also stands out for its non-traditional casting. Liana Asim will be playing the traditionally male role of Marcus Lycus, and Jenna Lea Scott* will be playing the traditionally male role of Erronius. Director Weylin Symes says "Since the show is framed as a troupe of actors putting on a show, it's very easy to use non-traditional casting. We only wanted to be careful that any gender switches in casting weren't confusing in a show that already involves a male character dressing up as a woman. Other productions have cast Pseudolus as a woman, but Marcus Lycus and Erronius seemed to us like fun roles to experiment with gender switches without any harm to the underlying story. Quite the contrary, having women play these roles bring an exciting freshness to these 53-year-old characters."

Neil A. Casey* stars as the sly and conniving Pseudolus. Proud and domineering Domina will be played by Stoneham native Kathy St. George*. Other cast members include: Jordan Ahnquist*, Liana Asim, Devin Bean, Nicholas Davis, Maria LaRossa, Mark Linehan*, Angelo McDonough, Chip Phillips*, John James Pirroni*, Jenna Lea Scott*, and Ceit Zweil.

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM opens on September 10, 2015 and runs through October 4, 2015. Performances are Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 3:00pm & 8:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00pm. The Press Opening is Saturday, September 12, 2015 at 3:00pm. There is a post-show talkback on Sunday, September 13, 2015.

Tickets: $50-55 Adults; $45-50 Seniors; $20 Students (with a valid ID). "Thrifty Thursday" tickets cost $15 at the door and are available for the Thursday, September 10, 2015 performance at 7:30pm, Student Rush Tickets start one hour prior to each performance, and 2 Student tickets may be purchased for the price of one (subject to availability). For more information or to purchase tickets, call Stoneham Theatre's Box Office at (781) 279-2200, or visit www.stonehamtheatre.org.

PRINCIPAL ARTISTS:

WEYLIN SYMES (Director) was extensively involved in the renovation of Stoneham Theatre's building in 1999, and over the past 14 years he has overseen the growth of the Theatre into one of Boston's five largest performing arts centers (Boston Business Journal). After serving as the Theatre's first Artistic Associate, Weylin assumed the role of Artistic Director in 2003 and was named as Producing Artistic Director in 2007. In his time at Stoneham, he has directed over 25 productions for the Mainstage and the young company and adapted several pieces for performance on Stoneham's stage, including The Old Man and the Sea, Dracula, and It's a Wonderful Life. In 2013, he completed an adaptation of the Grimm's fairy tale The Handless Maiden for performance by the young company at Stoneham Theatre. Some favorite directing projects at Stoneham include: Seminar, Distant Music, I Capture the Castle, Buddy Cop 2, Gaslight, Strangers on a Train, Marathon, A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Violet Hour, The Dazzle, and The Girl in the Frame. He is excited to be directing all four of The Apple Family Plays as part of Stoneham's collaboration with Gloucester Stage. Prior to coming to Stoneham Theatre, he directed several productions in the Boston area, including Henrik Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman and We Bombed in New Haven by Joseph Heller, and spent a year training law enforcement personnel through role-playing exercises in Albuquerque, NM. Weylin graduated from New York University and studied at the Experimental Theatre Wing of the Tisch School of the Arts.

ILYSE ROBBINS (Director/Choreographer) Stoneham Theatre credits: Directing: How to Succeed..., Miracle on 34th Street, Thoroughly Modern Millie (Elliot Norton Award - Best Director), 42nd Street (IRNE Award - Best Choreography). Choreography: The Addams Family, The Full Monty, My Fair Lady, The Dinosaur Musical, A Christmas Carol, Dear Miss Garland, A Year with Frog and Toad, Guys on Ice. Performance: Pam - The Full Monty, Mrs. Eynsford-Hill - My Fair Lady, Joyce/Evie - The Sparrow. Recent area credits include: Direction/choreography: The Little Prince (New Rep), Working (Lyric Stage), Deep Love of Nightgowns (Boston Theater Marathon for Stoneham Theatre), Honk! Jr. (Wheelock Family Theatre Summer Intensive). Choreography: Brundibar (Underground Railway Theater - IRNE Award nominee - Best Choreography), On the Town (Lyric Stage - Best Choreography - Entertainment World Awards), Christmas Carol (Hanover Theater). Performance: Dessa - Tongue of a Bird (New Rep), Lucy - On the Town (Lyric Stage), Ellen/Sylvia - Love, Faith and Other Dirty Words (Modern Theatre). Ilyse holds a BS in Theater from Northwestern University, certification from the British American Drama Academy and an Ed.M. from Harvard University. Ilyse is an

adjunct professor at Wheelock College, a visiting professor at Brandeis University, and coaches presentation skills and executive presence for Mohr Collaborative. Coming up, Ilyse will choreograph Sondheim on Sondheim and Peter and the Starcatcher for the Lyric Stage and will direct/choreograph Sweet Charity at Stoneham Theatre in the spring.

LIANA ASIM (Marcus Lycus) is a playwright/actor. She was most recently chosen as a 2015 BCA and Company One PlayLab Fellow. She was last seen on stage as Mabel in Hidden Faces of Courage. Her full- length plays include Bedfellows, Slut Walk or a Play About Marilyn Monroe, The Hairy Scary (a musical co- written with Jabari Asim and Joshua Stephen Kartes), and The King of Love Is Dead (adapted from A Taste of Honey by J. Asim.) Her work has been developed at Fresh Ink Theatre, Playwright's Platform, Boston Theater Marathon XVII's Warm-Up Laps, BCA/Company One PlayLab and Emerson College in Boston, MA, and at The Players Club and Davenport Studios in NYC. She has studied performance art at Northwestern University and screenwriting, television, and playwriting at Emerson College.

DEVIN BEAN (Philia) is immensely excited to be included in her first Mainstage production at Stoneham Theatre. She has performed with Stoneham Theatre's young company for four years. She appeared as Margaret White in Carrie, Miranda in Picnic at Hanging Rock, Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Poncia in Bernarda Alba, and many other exciting roles. She has also performed with Arlington Friends of the Drama in Oliver and The Winchester Cooperative Theatre for many years. Devin will be a senior this year at Winchester High School.

NEIL A. CASEY* (Pseudolus) is thrilled to be back at Stoneham Theatre once again. Past Stoneham credits include The Woman in Black, The Violet Hour, The Dazzle, 42nd Street and My Fair Lady. Neil is a company member of the long-running Boston production of Shear Madness and has appeared in the Washington D.C. production at The Kennedy Center, as well as the Pittsburgh and Sacramento productions. Other credits include the European tour of 42nd Street and a National Tour of The Diary of Anne Frank. Other local credits include work at The Huntington Theatre Company in Love's Labour's Lost, The Lyric Stage Company of Boston in The Underpants, Noises Off, When Pigs Fly, Glengarry, Glen Ross, and Assassins, just to name a few. Also, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM (Boston Theatre Works), Take Me Out (Boston Theatre Works and SpeakEasy Stage Company). Neil has spent the last few summers working in Pennsylvania at The Mountain Playhouse where he has been seen in Loot, 42nd Street, Tom, Dick and Harry, Communicating Doors, Run for Your Wife, and She Loves Me among others. Education: BFA - Niagara University, MFA - The Shakespeare Theatre at The George Washington University.

JOHN JAMES PIRRONI* (Hysterium) Forum marks John's second production with Stoneham Theatre in his first role as a proud member of Actors' Equity! Off-Broadway: Mildred Fierce (Wally) Regional: Sweeney Todd (Beadle), Chicago (Mary Sunshine), A Chorus Line (Greg), Full Monty (Vicki), How to Succeed (Jenkins). John has designed wigs for numerous New England Theaters including Stoneham Theatre, The Lyric, Gloucester Stage, Seacoast Rep, and 7 stages Shakespeare. With makeup, John's work has appeared on stage, print, and runway, most recently appearing in GQ online.

KATHY ST. GEORGE* (Domina) is delighted to return to Stoneham Theatre where she has appeared as Judy Garland in Dear Miss Garland, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Addams Family: A New Musical, 42nd Street, Something's Afoot, Menopause The Musical, Steel Magnolias, Pete 'N Keely, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and A Christmas Carol. She has appeared on Broadway in Fiddler On The Roof directed by Jerome Robbins (1991 Tony Award "Best Revival"), Off-Broadway in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change and in six National Tours. A Stoneham native and Salem State grad, Kathy has received two IRNE Awards and the 2012 Elliot Norton Award. KathyStGeorge.com

Now in its 16th Season of live theatre in Stoneham, MA, the mission of Stoneham Theatre is to keep the art of professional theatre and dramatic education thriving in the suburbs. Each season, we produce seven Mainstage shows, present a series of Special Events, and run year-round classes, lessons, and fully staged productions through the young company for students in grades 1-12.


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