First produced on Broadway in 1962, the multiple Tony Award-winning musical comedy, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” written by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart and influenced by the plays of Plautus, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim is playing at the Manatee Players. The much beloved show, characterized by its Vaudevillian take on the Greek classics, was made into a motion picture in 1966, starring Zero Mostel.
The Manatee Players’ faithful and satisfied followers exited stage left after a recent performance, singing the reprise to “Lovely” on their journey through the parking lot. It was a lively production, filled with funny lines and a set relying almost entirely on plywood, paint and imagination, designed by Donna Buckalter. Director and choreographer Bob Trisolini infused the scenes with some cute dancing and a suitably campy disposition.
The cast was up to the task, especially charmer Mike Nolan, who plays the lead, Pseudolus, a slave trying to win his freedom in whatever manner comes his way. Accompanied by The Proteans, a trio including Hunter Brown, Dr. Will Horton and William Leo Williams, who play other slapstick-inspired parts as needed, this group opens the show with the adorable number, “Comedy Tonight.” Other especially memorable songs included, “Impossible,” charmingly sung by Jason Ellis as Hero, the young star-crossed lover, and Senex, played by Mark Shoemaker. “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid” was another standout song and dance performed by Shoemaker and Nolan, with the entertaining addition of cute Rodd Dyer as hysterical Hystrium and Charles Craig, as Lycus, an easily befuddled dealer in courtesans. Meg Newsome, as Domina, dominated her spouse quite nicely and showed off a big voice with the song, “That Dirty Old Man.”
Smaller, but no less entertaining, parts were nicely played by Jgar Hellwig, as the manly Miles Gloriosus; Sarah Harrington as love interest, Philia; and Denny Miller as Erronius. The Courtesans, featuring Cheryl S. Gutner as Tintinabula; Sharon Bartley as Panacea; Emma Slotabec and Erika Quartuccio as the Geminae; Alina Evans as Vibrata; and Sarah Harrington as Gymnasia graced the stage at every opportunity.
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