A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Forum

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Forum

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Forum
Book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by Kerry Geise
Starring David Kay, Emile Doles, Theresa Smith-Levin
Theater at the J, Maitland FL

Yes, indeed, it’s “Comedy, Tonight!” We overcome an underwhelming start as Pseudolus (Kay) jumps on stage in street clothes followed by the the bickering Proteans (Ayden Geise and Sloan Friedman), but have no fear; there are costumes and a set and some of the dancing girls and boys are a bit more than hot.

You may have heard of this show; it’s Sondheim’s one really funny comedy brought to film in 1966 with Zero Mostel in the lead. Pseudolus (Kay) is that same conniving slave; a trope that dates back to the ancient Greeks and always provides strong comedy. He want his freedom and his master is a young and horny Hero (Doles) who’s ready to make a deal. If Pseudolus can get Hero his love Philia (Smith -Levin) he’ll earn the freedom to pay taxes and pay his own rent. The debate is shorter than Scott Walker’s campaign, and we are off to the races. Philia works for procurer Marcus Lycus (Giovanni Barrio); and she’s promised to brutal general Miles Glorious (Jason Skinner) virginity and all. Hero’s dad is middle aged Senex (Mark Davids); he’s ditched his wife Domina (Amada Hudson Giese) and is ready for some action. Senex’s other servant is the fussy and pudgy Hysterium (Isaac Markel); he ends up in bed, in drag and in trouble; all thanks to Pseudolus’ s intricate plot. Does Pseudolus win his freedom? Or does Domina castrate Senex? I won’t say, but look to the the opening song: It’s “Comedy, tonight!”

For a few years The J has kept their productions to a member’s only club and their quality suffered. Mr. Geise now takes the challenge to raise production values, bring in more professional actors and bring back outside audiences. He’s on to a good start; the cast is strong and full of local talent. Kay was a funny slave, even if he often seemed to rely on the writers to keep him out of trouble. Markel’s Hysterium was hysterical, he’s master of the slow burn. The hot babes in Marcus Lycus’s harem sparkled and while Doles and Smith-Levine were occasionally flat when apart they pulled off some decent chemistry when together. Other impressive talent included the overbearing Mr. Skinner as the violent but dim general and the exotic Barrio as the Trader Joe of sex; and Erroneous (Russel Warner) got some great dead pan laughs as he walked around the seven Roman hills seven times. This is a bawdy comedy with name recognition, and the production is significantly better than ones I’ve seen in the past. Let’s give this company some attention; it can only push them in the right direction.

For more information on shows at The J please visit OrlandoJCC.org/Theater

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