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A CurtainUp Connecticut Review
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

If I've told you once, I've told you a hundred times; do not fan the girls when they're wet! But you'll never learn, you'll be a eunuch all your life.— Lycus
Funny Thing Happened to Me On the Way to the Forum
Adam Heller as Pseudolus
(Photo by Diane Sobolewsk)
Slapstick, a Sondheim score and tacky vaudeville-type humor combine in an off-the-beaten-path musical for Goodspeed Musicals. Ted Pappas directs A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, for the East Haddam theater famous for staging full-scale tap chorus numbers on its small stage. Unlike it's usually family-friendly offerings, Forum. . . is heavy on scantily dressed prostitutes.

In this comedy about love in ancient Rome with a book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, Adam Heller heads the cast as the wise-cracking Pseudolus, a slave trying to buy his freedom by playing matchmaker for his owner, Hero (Sam Pinkleton), All roads don't lead easily to freedom for Pseudolus though, as he has to juggle the love interests, love potions and false identifies of just about everyone on stage with the help of slave colleague Hysterium (John Scherer). He has to unite Courtesan Philia (Emily Thompson) and Hero before she goes off with Miles Gloriosus (Nat Chadler) who has purchased her, but she thinks Sentex (David Wohl) is Gloriosis and offers herself to him. That's fine with Sentex, who plots a seduction while his Medusa-looking wife Domina (Mary Gutzi) is away visiting her mother (Mark Adam Rampmeyer ,wig and hair design).

Meanwhile, Pseudolus assumes the identity of Lycus (Ron Wisniski), the procurer of the courtesans with names like Tintinabula, Panacea, Geminae (yup, they're twins) and Vibrata, and cracks a lot of jokes with double entendre. Heller is engaging and sounds a lot like Zero Mostel, who originated the role on Broadway, in his delivery. Mayhem ensues.

The costumes (Martha Bromelmeier; original design Tony Walton) put the men in toga-looking ensembles with a sort of striped pajama undergarment, several of the women in white flowing gowns that look like they're from the maternity evening wear section and the courtesans in hardly anything at all (one wears grapes for a bikini-like garment). Pappas, who also choreographs, moves the cast around nicely and everyone genuinely seems to be having a lot of fun up there, especially Wisniski, who hams it up with facial expressions.

Highlights are Mark Baker as the decrepit Erronius, searching for his children and announcing each time he completes a trip around the hills of Rome, the three Proteans (Jason Babinsky, Kurt Domoney, Steve Konopelski) who grumble, grumble, grumble and Chadler's fine operatic voice which stands out amongst the other weaker singing voices (particularly noticeable on the heels of Camelot, where we just enjoyed one of the strongest vocal casts ever on the Goodspeed stage).

If you like shtick, a good tune like "Comedy Tonight," and some girls who don't mind being sold for pleasure to men, Forum will satisfy through Nov. 29.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Music and Lyrics By Stephen Sondheim
Book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart
Directed and choreographed by Ted Pappas
Music Director Michael O'Flaherty
Assistant Music Director:William J. Thomas
Orchestrations:Dan DeLange

Cast: Adam Heller (Pseudolus), Jason Babinsky, Kurt Domoney, Steve Konopelski (Proteans), Sam Pinkleton (Hero), Emily Thompson (Philia), David Wohl (Senex). Mary Gutzi (Domina), John Scherer (Hysterium), Ron Wisniski (Marcus Lycus), Stephanie Lynn Nelson (Tintinabula), Semhar Ghebremichael (Panacea), Abbey O'Brien, Krista Saab (Geminae), Kara Kimmer (Vibrata), Laura Keller (Gymnasia), Mark Baker (Erronius), Nat Chandler (Miles Gloriosus), Michael Biren and Emily Susanne Franklin (swings)
Scenic Design: James Noone
Lighting Design: Kirk Bookman
Sound Design: Jay Hilton
Costume Design: Martha Bromelmeier (original design Tony Walton)
Wig and Hair Design: Mark Adam Rampmeyer.
Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes with a 15 minute
Goodspeed Musicals, 6 Main Street, East Haddam CT
Performances: Wednesday at 2 pm and 7:30 pm., Thursday at 7:30 pm. (with select performances at 2:00 pm.), Friday at 8 pm., Saturday at 3 pm. and 8 pm., and Sunday at 2 pm (with select performances at 6:30 pm).THANKSGIVING WEEK SCHEDULE: Monday, Nov. 23, at 2 pm and 7:30 pm; Friday, Nov. 27, at 2 pm and 8 pm; Saturday, Nov. 28, at 3 pm and 8 pm; and Sunday, Nov. 29, at 2 pm. and 6:30 pm.
Tickets $27.50 - $69.50 Goodspeed Box Office (860.873.8668) or on-line at
Sept. 25 Nov. 29, 2009
Review by Lauren Yarger based on performance of Oct. 21, 2009
Musical Numbers
Act One
  • Comedy Tonight/Prologus, the Proteans and the Company
  • Love, I Hear/Hero
  • Free/Pseudolus, Hero
  • The House of Marcus Lycos/ Lycus. Pseudolus and the Courtesans
  • Lovely/Hero, Philia
  • Everybody Ought to Have a Maid/Senex, Pseudolus, Hysterium, Lycus
Act Two
  • That Dirty Old Man/Domina
  • That'll Show Him/Philia
  • Lovely (reprise)/Pseudolus, Hysterium
  • Funeral Sequence and Dance/Pseudolus, Miles Gloriosus, The Courtesans and the Proteans
  • Comedy Tonight (reprise)/The Company
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