BWW Review: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM at City Theatre Of Independence

BWW Review: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM at City Theatre Of Independence

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum now showing at the City Theatre of Independence through April 15, 2018. Community theatre hits a high note with a favorite farcical, fast-paced, irreverent, and funniest musicals ever written. Forum combines the time tested comedies of Roman playwrights with the infectious energy of classical vaudeville for an evening of wit and Sondheim musical magic. Featuring the hilarious escapades of the crafty slave Pseudolous as he struggles to win the hand of the beautiful, but slow-witted, courtesan Philia for his young master, Hero, in exchange for freedom. The story delivers a nonstop laugh fest as the plot twists and turns to it's dramatic conclusion.

Independence Community Theatre, under the direction of David A. Rogers, has crafted a fun evening of antics with it's latest production of "Forum". Joe Caronia (Pseudolous/Prologus) opens the show with the ever popular song "Comedy Tonight" and applies his spot on comedic timing to the role. Caronia carries the responsibility of carefully unfolding the plot of the story without losing the audience which he delivers. I've seen numerous Forum productions where the plot gets lost amidst the revolving door of characters and false identities, but this one is an exception. Drew Jones (Hero) and Hannah Eppert (Philia) are the perfectly unlikely love interests with songs such as "Love, I Hear", "Lovely", and "Pretty Little Picture". The three Proteans, played by Jacob Blegen, Jacob Cochran, and Alan Hainkel provide frequent jocular moments of pure slapstick all while rearranging sets and costumes. Bernard Norcott-Mahany (Senex) and Karen Troeh (Senex wife Domina) are the protective parents of Hero and continually stir the comedic pot. Troeh delivers "That Dirty Old Man" as if she started the Me Too movement. BWW Review: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM at City Theatre Of Independence

There is a bevy of beautiful courtesans (which include Jennifer Abate, Wendy Buchheit, Jessica Jones, Briana Marxen-McCollom, Landis Merrill, and Anna Leigh Nissen) who shake, shimmy, and snarl about the stage and steal every scene they are in. With only a moment of introduction, each of them craft a character (or twin character, as the case may be) with nuanced theatricality that definitely adds to this production. The coy courtesans are helped with the clever choreography of Jennifer Abate and the perfect costuming of designer Michelle Brown who has created a visually balanced palate of color, sparkle and surprise.

The final four I mention (these marvelous musketeers) are Emerson Rapp (Miles Gloriosus), Stephen Howard (Hysterium), Matt Runnells-Rebol (Marcus Lycus), and Philip C. Bachus (Erronius). Rapp appropriately commands the stage (it helps to enter on a chariot - thanks to Rosalyn Culver Property Master) as the domineering Captain. He proves to be a musical powerhouse for the number "Bring Me My Bride" (as well as speeding up pulse rates out in the audience.) Howard comedically captures the hysterical in Hysterium as he attempts to say "I'm Calm", but discovers Murphy's Law awaits him at every turn. Matt Runnells-Rebol as the "madame" Marcus shows off his courtesans as well as his voice in "The House of Marcus Lycusl." The award for making the most of a role goes to Philip C Bachus who leaves both the audience and himself...breathless.

Michelle Allen McIntire is the musical director, and conducts a fine orchestra throughout the production. David A. Rogers has assembled one of the nicer Scene designs I've seen put together for Forum that held up well to all the door slamming. The production team really stepped up to the task of assembling a show to be proud of.

BWW Review: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM at City Theatre Of Independence

City Theatre of Independence is located in the Roger T Sermon Community Center at 201 N. Dodgion, Independence, MO 64050 Reservations can be made by phone at 816-325-7367 and for more information visit their website at

Photograph courtesy of City Theatre of Independence

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From This Author Paul Bolton

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