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

New Line Theatre stages a hilarious production through June 24th.

By: Jun. 03, 2023

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM opened Friday evening as the final show in 31st season at New Line Theatre. Originally opening on Broadway in 1962, FORUM was written by comic playwrights Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart with music and lyrics by Stephen Soundheim. It is a hysterical farce inspired by the comedies of Greek playwright Plautus, an early playwright in the Roman theatre.

Shevelove and Gelbart’s zany book is what makes A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM work. One could argue that the book's comedic writing is so strong that this could have stood on its own as a play. The work was Soundheim’s first score for which he is credited with both music and lyrics. The opening number “Comedy Tonight” is one of the most successful rewrites in Broadway history based on the advice of Jerome Robins. As a result, “Comedy Tonight” not only made FORUM a hit, it establishes the mood of the piece as a wild and bawdy comedy, and has become the most memorable song in the musical.

New Line Theatre’s production of A FUNNY THING HAPPENS ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM succeeds due to Scott Miller’s directorial vision and the comedic timing of Miller’s strong cast. There are plenty of laughs in the First Act, but the second act builds to a crescendo of complete hilarity. Miller’s blocking and the actors’ execution of  the Second Act chase scene is downright madcap. Ann Hier Brown’s delivery of “That Dirty Old Man,” Kent Coffel and Chris Moore’s delivery of “Lovely,” and the Company’s collaboration on “Funeral Sequence” keeps the audience laughing nonstop following the intermission. The remaining cast Jason Blackburn, Danny Brown, Gary Cox, Robert Doyle, Nathan Hakenewerth, Brittany Kohl Hester, Aarin Kamphoefner, Ian McCreary and Sarah Wilkinson rely on their deadpan delivery and physical comedy to deliver big laughs throughout the show.

New Line’s production of the 50-year-old classic musical is fresh, fun and entertaining. This production plays Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM at the Marcelle Theatre in Grand Center through June 24th.  For more information on A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, visit newlinetheatre.com




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