Review: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM at Blackfriars Theatre

An All-Women Cast Brings Fresh Comedy to A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

By: Jun. 19, 2023
Review: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM at Blackfriars Theatre
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.




Existing user? Just click login.

If you’re on the hunt for a night of madcap comedy, screwball antics, and a truly Three Stooges-level of slapstick, head over to Rochester’s Blackfriars Theatre, where a Sondheim classic is being staged unlike any version of the show you’ve seen before.

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” is a 1962 musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart. From Stageagent: “Straight from the roots of comedy, Forum combines the ancient comedies of Plautus with a vaudevillian delivery. Pseudolus (Rory Cushman) schemes to win the heart of the beautiful virgin, Phelia (Jessica Kaufman Ottnod), for his young master, Hero (Lyndsey Lord). In exchange, Hero will grant Pseudolus his freedom once and for all. However, things are never as easy as they seem. Chaos ensues with hair-brained schemes, cases of mistaken identity, slamming doors and convoluted plot twists.”

Admittedly, “Forum” is not my favorite Sondheim; I’ve never found the music to be quite as lush or earworm-y as, say “Into the Woods” or “Sweeney Todd”, and there are stretches where the narrative tends to get a bit dizzying if your attention lapses for even a second (intentionally so, I would imagine). That all being said, it’s hard to imagine that a funnier version of the show has ever been staged anywhere, and that is no doubt largely due to the ensemble of uproariously funny women that Blackfriars has brought together.

In the vein of “Spamalot” and “Something Rotten”, “Forum” is a bonkers, off-the-wall musical, and casting the show with all women only enhances the comedy. The conventions of the 1960’s (when the show was authored) are completely thrown out the window as the story’s central romantic arc is between two women, women of roughly the same age play father and daughter, and a woman runs a brother comprised of—-you guessed it---all women. It’s such a stroke of genius that I’m surprised more theatres don’t adopt, as “Forum” provides the perfect playground to throw inhibitions to the wind and really dial the silliness up to 11.

All the women in Blackfriars’ “Forum” bring the laughs (Kit Prelewitz’s Hysterium was my personal favorite), so much so that Rory Cushman had to fight off a major bout of the giggles during a particularly hysterical act II scene on the night I attended. The comedy is perfectly woven into the big musical numbers as well, particularly “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid” and “Comedy, Tonight.”

Blackfriars’ production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” is a silly, nonsensical, laugh-out-loud good time. It’s playing until June 25th, for tickets and more information click here.



Comments

To post a comment, you must register and login.


SPONSORED BY THE REV









Videos