Colorado Mountain College Theatre’s production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” capitalizes on all of vaudeville’s most beloved gags: zany one-liners, bad puns, physical humor and slapstick comedy. The result is an extravaganza of hilarity that makes fun of one of the world’s most ridiculous experiments — human civilization.
The original production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” starring Zero Mostel, opened on Broadway in 1962 and was nominated for eight Tony Awards. Stephen Sondheim composed the music and lyrics for the book created by Bert Shevelove and Larry Gelbart. The show has enjoyed two successful Broadway revivals, including the Tony-winning production that earned Nathan Lane a “Best Actor in a Musical” award in 1996.
Now, for two weekends only, the mad-dash musical comedy will take the stage at the New Space Theatre at Colorado Mountain College in Spring Valley. Performances are April 4-5 and 10-12 at 7 p.m., with matinees April 6 and 13 at 2 p.m.
Show invites audience to forget their cares, enjoy ‘Comedy Tonight’
“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” takes viewers on a wild romp through ancient Rome that provides ridiculous answers to the ridiculous questions that have pestered humanity since the beginning of time, such as: How hard are we willing to work to avoid hard work? Hint: Pseudolus, the Roman slave who anchors the show, spends a lot of energy trying to secure some leisure.
The subplot sparks a second, perennial question: How far will pining lovers go to hook up with Mr. or Ms. Right? In the world of this over-the-top extravaganza, the answer is: pretty ridiculously far. In short, this sublimely absurd musical asks viewers to leave their long faces and ponderous thoughts at home while they enjoy “Comedy Tonight” (the best-known song from the score).
“It’s flat-out fun,” said Gary Ketzenbarger, CMC associate professor of theater and speech, director of the theater program, and director of the production. “This show gives us license to laugh at ourselves.”
“It plays off of every terrible, horrible stereotype there is,” added David Collier, CMC theatre student. Collier describes the character he portrays, Miles Gloriosus, as having such a big ego that “he has one dimension, one concern, and it’s himself.”
Broad humor, toe-tapping tunes are crowd-pleasers
“The music and the cast are terrific,” said Ketzenbarger, noting that the department could not have tackled the production without CMC adjunct instructor Brad Moore, who portrays Pseudolus. “He was made to play this part,” said Ketzenbarger.
“Pseudolus plots and schemes,” said Moore, “but he’s as surprised as anyone by the way his plans play out.” As the story progresses, side effects of his machinations set off chain reactions of mismatched pairings, jealous lovers and mistaken identities that create what Moore calls “an enormous amount of orchestrated chaos.”
The cast also features a strong ensemble of CMC theater students including Jaime Sklavos as Philia, the virginal courtesan; Jesse Monsalve as Hero, Philia’s innocent suitor; and Paige Ulmer as Domina, whose character name says it all. Recent theater graduate Cassidy Willey plays Vibrata, an exotic beauty in the house of Lycus, a Roman-era pimp. The incomparable Dory Light lends her virtuoso keyboard skills as musical director, and a strong cadre of student and community actors round out the cast and crew.
Seats can be reserved now at firstname.lastname@example.org or 947-8177. Standard ticket prices for “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” are $20 for adults and $15 for students, seniors, staff and faculty. Discounted pricing will be offered to anyone attending the show in a toga. Viewers are cautioned that the show contains bawdy humor that may not be appropriate for young children.
“The opening song pretty much prepares the audience,” said theater major Sklavos. As the lyrics promise, CMC’s final production of the season offers “something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone, a comedy tonight.”