BWW Review: The MUNY's Uproarious and Delightful A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM
Brimming with painfully amusing puns, by gag writers Larry Gelbart and Bert Shevelove, who bring a bit of borscht belt humor and a sprinkling of vaudeville to the the proceedings, and adorned with the wonderful music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM is an incredibly engaging and entertaining show, and it's the current attraction at The MUNY. It's a great match, and a perfect show for a summer evening, filled with sparkling, bawdy jokes, and brought to life with considerable energy by a stellar cast. I highly recommend this classic musical!
Pseudolus, the slave, longs for freedom. His master's son, Hero, longs for a courtesan named Philia who is already sold to Miles Gloriosus, a captain in the Roman army. A deal is made for his release if he's able to trick Gloriosus so that Hero can have her for himself. Amusing moments of chaos ensue before love triumphs, when a perfectly silly discovery provides the true identities of two members of this triangle.
Jeffrey Schecter has just the right comedic qualities to suit the character of Pseudolus. He kicks off the proceedings with a rousing rendition of "Comedy Tonight," and displays excellent comic timing throughout. Marrick Smith does nice work as Hero, with "Love, I Hear," standing out in particular. His duets are even better, and "Free," with Schecter, and "Lovely," with the attractive and very appealing Ali Ewoldt as Philia, are also quite well done. Ewoldt is splendid as the air-headed courtesan, completely oblivious just about everything what comes her way. Nathaniel Hackmann is strong as the vain and stupid, Miles Gloriosus, belting out "Bring Me My Bride" with gusto. As Hysterium,John Tartaglia just about steals the show with an intense and riveting comic portrayal as the eternally flustered and fussy servant to the house of Senex . His solo number, "I'm Calm," is a highlight.
Very solid in support are: Mark Linn-Baker as the horny, but whipped head of the house of Senex; E. Faye Butler as his shrewish wife, Domina; Whit Reichert as Erronius, who's searching for his twin children, kidnapped by pirates many years ago; Jason Kravits as Lycus, who trades in female flesh; Marcus Choi, Justin Keyes, and Tommy Scrivens as the multi-tasking Proteans; and Khori Michelle Petinaud, Katelyn Prominski, Emily Hsu, Lainie Sakakura, Justina Aveyard, Molly Callinan as the female pulchritude on display in the house of Lycus.
Director Gary Griffin mines this script for maximum comic effect and produces a show that's guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face. Alex Sanchez delivers some sprightly done choreography to liven things up, and Brad Haak's musical direction, along with the exceptional musicians who make up orchestra, make the score seem fresh and vital. Tim Mackabee makes the most of the vast expanse of stage he has to work with, and Rob Denton's lighting is nicely realized. Mara Blumenfeld's costumes are colorful fits for the period, and John Metzner provides a number of effective wigs.
The MUNY's production of A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM continues through July 11, 2017. It's a laugh riot that will have you humming the score as you exit, so be sure to check it out!