Shakespeare Theatre Company to Stage A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, 11/21-1/5

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum will take the stage at the Shakespeare Theatre Company this holiday season. Making his STC mainstage directing debut, STC Associate Director Alan Paul heads up the hilarious and fun musical farce based on the classic plays of ancient Roman playwright Plautus. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum will play at Sidney Harman Hall (610 F Street NW) from November 21, 2013-January 5, 2014.

This hysterical musical features a beloved score by Stephen Sondheim and an uproarious book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart. The musical's original Broadway production won several Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Book. Forum has also enjoyed several Broadway and West End revivals.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum tells the bawdy story of Pseudolus, a slave in ancient Rome, who goes to great lengths to gain his freedom by securing a courtesan for his young master, Hero. Scheming slaves, mistaken identities and courtesans each with their own gimmick deliver on the promise of the famous opening number, that there will be comedy tonight. Director Alan Paul says, "This musical is about entertainment. It is important at this time in our city to make people laugh, give them an opportunity to forget their stresses and just enjoy themselves."

Forum's pre-Broadway tryout was held in Washington, D.C.'s National Theatre. The original production was still in development when Jerome Robbins lent his "show doctoring" talents and suggested that a new opening number be written. Sondheim wrote the now-infamous Comedy Tonight, introducing the musical as a wild comedy and from that point on the show was a big hit. Paul feels that "Washington, D.C. is a good luck charm for Forum. I'm pleased to bring it back to where it started."

Paul is delighted to tackle such an entertaining production for his STC mainstage debut. "Forum has one of the funniest books of a musical ever written, and we've assembled an amazing team to make this production the wittiest and most elegant it can be," says Paul. "I started working at the Shakespeare Theatre Company when I was 22 years old, so I have literally grown up at this theatre. Michael Kahn has been a mentor to me for these seven seasons, and really taught me how to be a director. I'm humbled and thrilled that, at 29, Michael has given me the opportunity to direct on STC's mainstage."

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is presented by the HRH Foundation.

To purchase tickets or to learn more, patrons can call the box office at 202.547.1122 or visit

Returning to STC after appearing in last season's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Bruce Dow will play Pseudolus. Dow has acted in numerous Stratford Shakespeare Festival productions such as The Tempest (starring Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer), The Comedy of Errors, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Merchant of Venice, Into the Woods, Patience and Man of La Mancha, among others. He recently appeared on Broadway as King Herod in the Tony-nominated Jesus Christ Superstar. His other Broadway credits include Anything Goes, The Music Man and Jane Eyre. Off-Broadway he has performed in Grenadine (NYC premiere reading of the Yale Drama Award-winning play by Neil Wechsler). On screen, he has appeared in Murdoch Mysteries, Rick Mercer Report, My Big Big Friend and Total Drama Island. Dow is a guest lecturer at colleges and universities across America. He received his BFA in Acting and his MFA in Directing from the University of British Columbia.

Danny Rutigliano will play Marcus Lycus after appearing in STC's Bard's Broadway: Two Gentlemen of Verona, a rock opera, during the 25th Anniversary Season. Rutigliano's Broadway credits include Billy Elliot, Born Yesterday, The Lion King (original Broadway cast and Los Angeles cast) and The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public along with the touring production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Off-Broadway he has appeared at City Center Encores! in Fiorello!, Bells Are Ringing, Kismet, The New Moon and One Touch of Venus, as well as Godspell, Yiddle With a Fiddle, Daydreams: The Music & Magic of Doris Day, Lady Liberty, Rapunzel and Swiss Family Robinson. He can be seen in the films 13, Disney's animated Dumbo II and Goodfellas and The Producers as well as on the television shows Elementary, Bored to Death (HBO), Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: CI, Without a Trace, the original pilot of My Big Fat Greek Life, Three Sisters, Brothers Garcia, Naked Brothers Band and The Equalizer. Rutigliano is the recipient of a Los Angeles Ovation Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical as Timon in The Lion King.

STC Affiliated Artist Tom Story will take the stage as Hysterium, after appearing in last season's The Winter's Tale. Story has been in numerous productions at STC including The Government Inspector, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Cymbeline,Twelfth Night (2010 Free For All and mainstage, Helen Hayes nomination), Richard II, Henry V, Design for Living, Major Barbara, The Rivals, Twelfth Night (1995 Free For All) and Measure for Measure. Story's regional credits include The Book Club Play, Our Town, Sabrina Fair, A Christmas Carol, 1776, The Glass Menagerie, Amadeus, Secret Lives of the Sexists (Berkshire Eagle Award), The Heidi Chronicles (Berkshire Eagle Award), The Misanthrope, Moby Dick-Rehearsed, Camelot, Life's a Dream, POP! (Helen Hayes nomination), Gross Indecency, The Lion in Winter, A Girl Called Dusty, The Invention of Love (Helen Hayes nomination), Legends!, Prometheus, The York Realist, Ivanov, A Number (Helen Hayes nomination), The Pillowman, The School for Scandal and Henry IV, Part 1. Story has appeared in the Tribeca Film Festival in Piece of Cake and Shiner. Trained at Duke University and The Juilliard School, he is a recipient of the Fox Foundation Fellowship.

New to the STC stage, Steve Vinovich will play Senex. Vinovich's Broadway credits include Loose Ends, Lost in Yonkers, The Magic Show, The Robber Bridegroom, The Grand Tour and The Secret Rapture. Off-Broadway he performed in Old Jews Telling Jokes and he was in the National Tour of The Dinner Party. His regional credits include The Diary of Anne Frank at Westport Playhouse, 1776 at Pittsburgh Public, The Little Foxes and The Foreigner at Pasadena Playhouse, Art and The Price at Laguna Playhouse, Kiss Me Kate, Strike up the Band and Babes in Arms at Reprise, Twelfth Night (with Lynn Redgrave) at Stratford Shakespeare Festival and A Midsummer Night's Dream at The Public Theater, among others. On screen he can be seen in the films The Santa Clause, Awakenings, Mannequin and The Swan Princess and on the television shows LA Law, Hill Street Blues, Roseanne, Star Trek, ER, Everybody Loves Raymond, Law & Order, Matlock, Malcolm in the Middle and Hannah Montana. He is the recipient of three Drama-Logue Awards and was trained at The Juilliard School.

The cast of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum also includes Lora Lee Gayer as Philia, Julie Johnson as Domina, Nick Verina as Hero, Edward Watts as Miles Gloriosus and Harry A. Winter as Erronius. Other cast members include Chelsey Arce, Matthew Bauman, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Nick Flatto, Jenn Frankel, Lisa Karlin, Ashley Marinelli, Sarah Meahl and Blakely Slaybaugh.

Alan Paul joined the company in 2007 as the Directing Fellow and later worked for two seasons as the Resident Assistant Director, before becoming Associate Director. At STC, he has directed The Bard's Broadway: The Boys from Syracuse, Twelfth Night (Free For All), numerous ReDiscovery Readings and many special events. He has been the Assistant Director for 13 shows while at STC. Paul's directing credits include I Am My Own Wife at Signature Theatre, The Rocky Horror Show at Studio Theatre 2ndStage (co-director), Man of La Mancha at Catholic University, The Matchmaker at The University of Maryland, Richard II at Apex Theatre Company, Six Degrees of Separation at Northwestern University, and readings for Arena Stage, the Studio Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, the National Academy of Sciences, the Phillips Collection, the Goethe Institut and Georgetown University. His opera credits include Before Breakfast, The Filthy Habit, Photo-Op and many concerts for Urban Arias (Artisphere and Strathmore). He also directed El Amor Brujo and Dido and Aeneas for The In-Series, Butterfly/Saigon for the Young Artists of America (Strathmore Concert Hall) and taught scene study at the University of Maryland Opera Studio. Paul was one of four finalists for the 2013 European Opera Directing Prize, for opera directors under the age of 35 (Vienna, Austria). He recently collaborated with Lucy Bowen McCauley and Patrick Soluri on the premiere of Fire and Air at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theatre.

Paul has assembled an all-star team of designers to realize his vision on stage. Set Designer James Noone, Costume Designer David C. Woolard, Lighting Designer Rui Rita, Musical Director Adam Watcher, Sound Designer Jason Tratta and Choreographer Josh Rhodes have all worked together to transform Sidney Harman Hall into ancient Rome.

Choreographer Josh Rhodes makes his STC debut with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Currently, his work can be seen on Broadway in two productions, First Date and Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella (Outer Critic Circle, Astaire Award, and Drama Desk nominations). On stage and screen he choreographed Company, starring Neil Patrick Harris, and Sondheim's 80th Birthday Concert for the New York Philharmonic and PBS. Other stage credits include John Kander's The Landing for Vineyard Theatre, Broadway: Three Generations at the Kennedy Center, On The Town for the L.A. Philharmonic, Annie Get Your Gun (starring Patti LuPone) at Ravinia, Working at The Old Globe, the Broadway Playhouse in Chicago and the Drama Desk Award winning production at the Prospect Theater in New York, Barnum at Asolo Rep Theatre (Sarasota Theatre Award), They're Playing Our Song (starring Jason Alexander) at L.A.'s Reprise, Stars of David at the Philadelphia Theater Company, Academy at the Maltz Jupiter, 1776 at the Papermill Playhouse, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do at the Ogunquit Playhouse, Chess and Dreamgirls at the North Carolina Theatre, Clyde & Bonnie at the Aurora Theater, Beautiful Girls at the Manhattan School of Music, All Singing All Dancing, Legends! and Broadway By The Year-1954 at Town Hall. As a director, Josh created and directed Broadway Bares 20 and 21 in New York, The Full McNally at the Westport Playhouse and Paul Newman's Dream at Avery Fisher, and many 2XIST Fashion shows. His performance credits on Broadway include Fosse, Bells are Ringing, Sweet Smell of Success, Urban Cowboy, Man of La Mancha, The Boy from Oz and Chicago.

For this production, Paul is assisted by Resident Casting Director Daniel Neville-Rehbehn, Binder Casting, Assistant Director Gus Heagerty, Production Stage Manager Joseph Smelser and Assistant Stage Managers Hannah R. O'Neil and Robyn M. Zalewski.

*Artists and dates are subject to change.

Founded in 1997 by Helen Ruth Henderson to support the visual and performing arts and education, The HRH Foundation of Washington has become a leading underwriter of the arts in the nation's capital. In honor of this great generosity, the HRH Foundation received the Sidney Harman Award for Philanthropy in the Arts at the 2010 Harman Center for the Arts Gala. The Foundation has previously supported the Company's productions of Richard III, Love's Labor's Lost, The Imaginary Invalid, Design for Living, As You Like It, Candide, Strange Interlude and The Government Inspector.

A Washingtonian since 1995, the Foundation's Executive Director Helen Lee Henderson shares her mother's founding mission of being an active advocate for the arts as well as an influential benefactor. The Company is especially appreciative that The HRH Foundation shares its vision for the future of Washington as a cultural destination and was a major donor to the Campaign to build the Harman Center for the Arts.

Recipient of the 2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award, the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) has become one of the nation's leading theatre companies. Today, STC is synonymous with artistic excellence and making classical theatre more accessible.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Kahn and Managing Director Chris Jennings, STC's innovative approach to Shakespeare and other classic playwrights has earned it the reputation as the nation's premier classical theatre company. By focusing on works with profound themes, complex characters and poetic language written by Shakespeare, his contemporaries and the playwrights he influenced, the Company's artistic mission is unique among theatre companies: to present theatre of scope and size in an imaginative, skillful and accessible American style that honors the playwrights' language and intentions while viewing their work through a 21st-century lens.

A leader in arts education, STC has a stable of initiatives that teach and excite learners of all ages, from school programs and acting classes to discussion series as well as accessible programs like the annual Free For All, one of STC's most beloved annual traditions, allowing audiences to experience Shakespeare at no charge.

Located in our nation's capital, STC performs in two theatres, the Lansburgh Theatre and Sidney Harman Hall in downtown Washington, D.C., creating a dynamic, cultural hub of activity that showcases STC as well as outstanding local performing arts groups and nationally renowned organizations. STC moved into the 451-seat Lansburgh Theatre in March 1992, after six years in residency in the Folger Library's Elizabethan theatre. At that time the Penn Quarter neighborhood was not considered desirable by many; since then, STC has helped drive its revitalization. The 774-seat Sidney Harman Hall opened in October 2007.

The show will run November 21, 2013-January 5, 2014 in the Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F Street NW, playing Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets: $20 - $110. Premium seating is available for weekend performances. Special discounts are available for military, students, seniors and patrons aged 35 and under. Contact the box office at 202.547.1122 or visit for more information.

YOUNG PROSE: Every Tuesday at 12 p.m., STC releases an allotment of $18 tickets to patrons ages 35 and younger. $18 tickets are limited to performances through the following Sunday and are available in person at the Box Office and via phone at 202.547.1122. Advance tickets are available for $25. There is a limit of four tickets per person. ID is always required to pick up Young Prose tickets.

ACCESSIBILITY: Sidney Harman Hall is accessible to persons with disabilities, offering wheelchair-accessible seating and restrooms, audio enhancement and Braille and large print programs.

  • An audio-described performance of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum will be on Saturday, December 21 at 2 p.m.
  • A sign-interpreted performance of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum will be on Monday, December 23 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Seating in the sign-interpreted and audio description section can be reserved by calling the box office.

PARKING: The LAZ garage is located directly beneath Sidney Harman Hall; enter from E or F Streets between 6th and 7th Streets. E Street is the recommended entry because of events at the Verizon Center. When entering, follow signs directing you to 620 F Street. Elevators will take you to the Winter Garden lobby next door to Sidney Harman Hall on F Street.

METRO: Gallery Pl-Chinatown station on the Red/Green/Yellow lines: Use the Arena/7th Street exit. Sidney Harman Hall is visible one block to your left. Judiciary Square station on the Red line: use the F Street exit to the National Building Museum, turn left and walk 1.5 blocks along F Street to 6th Street.

Box Office: 202.547.1122 (voice) TTY: 202.638.3863 Toll Free: 877.487.8849 or online at

Related Articles

Washington, DC THEATER Stories | Shows  Like BWW DC  Follow BWW DC

From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...