by Lorie Lewis Ham
If you’re looking for a comedy, not a tragedy, then you might want to head to Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater in Fresno where you will currently find the musical A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum.
Forum is a Sondheim musical inspired by the farces of the ancient Roman playwright Plautus. The musical tells the bawdy story of a slave named Pseudolus and his attempts to win his freedom by helping his young master woo the girl next door. As the first song “Comedy Tonight” states, this is definitely a comedy not a tragedy with all the elements you would expect–both physical and in dialogue.
The twist of the story is that the girl next door that the young master, Hero, falls for, lives in a house of prostitution and is to be sold as a virgin to a soldier. The plot focuses on the lengths to which Pseudolus goes to in order to obtain this girl for Hero. There is also an old man whose children were kidnapped by pirates, which in the end brings another unexpected twist to the story.
This is the sixth time that veteran actor Dan Pessano has played Pseudolus with GCP. While I’ve always pictured the character a bit younger than Dan’s 70s, it’s fun to think about how he has brought this character to life so many times–and you can’t argue with his comedic experience. Dan’s presence in a show always promises plenty of laughs.
Greg Ruud plays the soldier Miles Gloriosus, to whom the virgin, Philia (Dannah Lemon), has been sold. I don’t typically like this character, but Greg’s portrayal ended up being one of my favorite parts of the show–he was hilarious.
Peter Allwine plays the winsome and innocent Hero, and as always I enjoyed his lovely voice. Another favorite funny moment was Gordon Moore in drag as the servant of Hero’s father, Hysterium (I won’t tell you why he was dressed as a girl–it would give too much away).
While I didn’t find the show as funny as I thought it might be, it still had many funny moments and was a fun night at the theatre. If you are looking for a show that’s just plain silly, why not head out to Roger Rocka’s to see A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum, which runs until March 16. More info can be found on their KRL event page and on the GCP website.
Check out more arts and entertainment articles in KRL’s A & E section! And watch for info on TNE readings and shows, auditions & more here at KRL.