A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum | The Muny

This musical is self-described as a comedy and a show for everyone, and it’s exactly that!

What do you do when your lead actor becomes plagued by a sinus infection and allergies, finding himself without a voice four days before opening night? If you’re The Muny, you call an actor and fan favorite from the previous show—in this case, Disney’s The Little Mermaid—ask if he’d be willing to fly back to St. Louis, learn the lines, songs and choreography for the show’s main role, and hope to God he’s crazy enough to say yes!

Thankfully, playing the part of Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum was an opportunity Jeffrey Schecter simply couldn’t pass up! But truthfully, it’s actually we as audience members who are the lucky ones because Schecter is absolutely SENSATIONAL in this role! I can’t imagine the show without him.

Of course you might be wondering, how in the world does someone memorize an entire show in less than four days? Well, Schecter didn’t—not entirely that is. But by opening night he’d come admirably close! Before the show began, Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson took to the stage to explain that Schecter would be tackling the lead role, script in hand. While he did in fact carry his script around onstage, Schecter rarely had to read directly from it! He would merely glance down at it from time to time and turn pages as the show progressed. I have no doubt he’ll know it all a few night’s into the show’s run!

Schecter had cracked up audiences as Scuttle in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and one thing this seagull has in common with the character Pseudolus is that they’re both hilarious! From the very beginning, this musical describes itself as a comedy and a show for everyone, and it’s exactly that! (You know a show is well-written when it’s just as funny today as it was 55 years ago when it debuted on Broadway.)

Pseudolus is a slave to Hero (Marrick Smith). When Hero’s parents, Senex (Mark Linn-Baker) and Domina (E. Faye Butler), head out of town, Pseudolus attempts to sway his teenage master into freeing him. Pseudolus’ advantage? He knows that Hero is crushing hardcore on Philia (Ali Ewoldt), who is a courtesan living next-door in the House of Lycus (Jason Kravits). In exchange for his freedom, Pseudolus promises to help Hero win over Philia. But this is a comedy, so naturally, it turns out there’s nothing easy about this task. For starters, she’s already been sold to warrior Miles Gloriosus (Nathaniel Hackmann) and is merely awaiting his arrival.

As a farce, the plot of this musical is packed with the familiar comedic elements and situations that timelessly warrant laughter. And here’s the thing—EVERYONE in Forum is funny. Next to Pseudolus, the crowd also couldn’t get enough of his fellow slave Hysterium (John Tartaglia). Pseudolus’ antics make Hysterium a nervous wreck, especially when he finds himself smack in the middle of Pseudolus’ scheme to convince Miles that the bride he was promised has died.

The set is the simplest of the 2017 Muny season so far, but it totally works! The colorful costuming is on point as well, and it was especially entertaining to see the outfits the other courtesans were clad in as Lycus introduced them one by one to Pseudolus.

As of this writing, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is my favorite show of the 2017 season. It’s such a fun, relaxing watch, and it’s one of those shows you’d love to watch more than once for the sake of catching each and every comical quip uttered. If you’re in the mood for a “comedy tonight,” you won’t find a better one than Forum! | Megan Washausen Randall  

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum runs through July 11. For ticket information, visit https://muny.org/.

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