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BWW Reviews: Crown Excels with Comedy Tonight

By: Apr. 14, 2015
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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum/book by Burt Shevelove & Larry Gelbart; music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim/Crown City Theatre/directed & choreographed by Lisaun Whittingham/open-ended engagement

The now classic musical A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum is silliness personified from its zany characters and inane plot contrivances to its corny yet witty dialogue. It is clever farce set to music. Mistaken identities, zippity fast exits and has no rhyme or reason but is terribly, terribly funny with belly laughs about every two seconds. Crown City Theatre's new revival rates an A+ with a devilishly good cast and delicious direction and choreography from Lisaun Whittingham. The production is about as good as it gets.

"Comedy Tonight" is what the doctor ordered, and the cast is uniformly top of the heap under Whittingham's sensational pacing, staging and choreographic moves. Headed by Jason Peter Kennedy and Nick Ley as Pseudolus and Hysterium respectively, they keep the laughs, puns, sight gags and every conceivable element of slapstick brimming and over-the-top. Kennedy is a natural with a totally unaffected approach; Ley has a comic face most comedians would die for....its rubbery expressions are a perfect match for this farce. Curt Bonnem also scores as the seedy, lascivious Lycus. He plays the character with a mafioso Brooklynese accent and wears a red fedora which really add some fine touches. Kurt Andrew Hansen does well with Senex, a most difficult role to keep interesting. He somehow manages to keep the befuddled man a bit mysterious and unpredictable. Jeffrey Sabino is hilarious as Erronius, who obediently and bare-legged makes a 7 time walk around the hills a uniquely comical experience. He also doubles as a Protean soldier. Pretty-boy Michael J. Marchak keeps Miles Gloriosus the egotistical maniac that he is meant to be... and Joe Mendick as Hero and Katie DeShan as Philia are all sweetness and innocence - which is not an easy feat amongst the adulterous scene stealers in this show. Erica Hanrahan-Ball is terrific in her all too brief scenes as Senex's wife Domina. Chorus members Nikos Siozos as the other Protean and Lindsey Schuberth and Rachel Osting, are the killer gorgeous courtesans of the House of Marcus Lycus.

Behind the scenes work as well is top-notch, including fine set and prop design by Keiko Moreno, and pretty costumes by Tanya Apuya. Let's also give praise to William Reilly as musical director/arranger, and to Zad Potter for lighting, Joe Mendick for sound and to technical director David Hemphill.

This inane look at social class and mores of ancient Rome reminds us of just how deliciously uncivilized civilizations actually were and still are, thank heavens. Sondheim's fun score includes "Comedy Tonight", "Lovely", "Pretty Little Picture", and "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid". If you want to laugh your tuckus off, go see Crown's production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Its fast energetic pace, silly jokes and equally bizarre comedic numbers from this fantastic ensemble will have you jumping for joy


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