A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum – Summer Musical Comedy

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There’s comedy, and then there’s “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” – the gaudy, bawdy musical that’s a romp through ancient Rome and full of desperate lovers, scheming neighbors and secrets behind every toga! The witty show has been called Broadway’s greatest farce and will be staged Wednesday, July 13 through Saturday, July 16 at 7:30 pm by the renowned Fine & Performing Arts Division at Northwest Florida State College.

The full-scale production features a cast of more than 60 talented college and community actors and crew. “A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM” appears in the Mainstage Theater of the college’s Mattie Kelly Arts Center in Niceville, where the massive stage has been transformed with oversized brightly colored sets custom that frame the non-stop laugh fest during its four night run.

Tickets for “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” are on sale from the Mattie Kelly Arts Center by phone, in-person or web through the center’s Box Office at (850) 729-6000 or online at www.MattieKellyArtsCenter.org. Adults are $25, youth age 18 and younger are $20. NWF State College students may request 1 free ticket per student ID. The show is considered to be rated PG-13 for language and content.

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” follows a crafty Roman slave Pseudolus, played by Shelby Steverson of Crestview, who is willing to do anything to gain his freedom. He attempts to win the hand of a beautiful but slow witted courtesan-in-training, Philia, played by Arin Walker of Niceville, for his young master Hero, played by Tristan Allen of Fort Walton Beach. The zany plot twists and turns with cases of mistaken identity, slamming doors, and a scantily clad showgirl or two.

Other lead roles in the comedy include Senex, played by Brett Huston of Niceville, who is Hero’s father and the perennially henpecked husband who is still attracted to wine, women, and song. Hysterium, played by Derek Raynaud of Niceville, is the frantic and frenetic chief slave in the house of Senex and Malinda Locke of Niceville plays Senex’s battle-ax wife Domina.

Other characters include, Gymnasia, a voluptuous prospective concubine, played by Brynne Christie of Niceville and Lycus, the snaky, slimy, lecherous procurer of courtesans, played by James Meadows of Fort Walton Beach. Tintinabula, one of Lycus’s courtesans, is played by Eli Rogers of Crestview. Other of Lycus’s courtesans include; Panacea, portrayed by Megan Garofalo of Santa Rosa Beach; the Geminae: twin courtesans, played by Madison Smith and Jordan Van Dyke, both of Niceville; Vibrata, played by Emily Christopherson of Fort Walton Beach; and Gymnasia, played by Brynne Christie of Nicevile.

Erronius, Senex’s elderly neighbor, is played by Nick Trolian of Crestview. Miles Gloriosus, a handsome and pompous Roman soldier is played by Wesley Barlow of Crestview. The multiple roles of the Protean/Soldier/Eunuchs are affectionately called Larry, Curley and Moe by the local cast, and are played by Richard McWhorter of Niceville; Ron Rowlett of Fort Walton Beach and Josh Birdsong of Destin, respectively. Rounding out the cast are the characters Soldier, played by Sean Royal of Colorado Springs, CO; and Eunuch, played by Drew Hardy of Fort Walton Beach.

The show’s fast-paced shenanigans are summed up best by catchy Stephen Sondheim tune “Comedy Tonight” which opens the musical, setting the stage for what’s in store for the audience — “Something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone: A comedy tonight! … Something appealing, something appalling . . . nothing portentous or polite … Nothing that’s formal, nothing that’s normal…. something erratic, something dramatic, something for everyone: A comedy tonight! …. Frenzy and frolic, strictly symbolic. . . Something that’s gaudy, something that’s bawdy …. Stunning surprises! Cunning disguises! Pantaloons and tunics! Courtesans and eunuchs! Funerals and chases! Baritones and basses! Panderers! Philanderers! … Rhymes! Crimes! … No royal curse. No Trojan horse. And, a happy ending, of course!”

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” will be the directorial debut in the college’s Mainstage Theater for Christa Whittaker, an NWF State College adjunct theater professor, who is well known for her leadership of the award-winning dramatic arts program at Fort Walton Beach High School. Whittaker has directed productions for Fort Walton High for 19 years, leading her students to six state mainstage awards and building a nationally recognized program. While it will be her first time to lead a production in the college’s massive Mainstage Theater at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center, for the past 10 years she has co-directed the college’s popular summer musical theater workshop, which annually produces a mini-musical in the Sprint Theater at the arts complex.

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” was a popular 1966 film, based on the Broadway stage musical of the same name. Featured songs include “Comedy Tonight”, “Love, I Hear”, “Free”, “Lovely”, “Pretty Little Picture”, “Everybody Ought To Have a Maid”, “Impossible”; “Bring Me My Bride”, “Intermission” ,”That Dirty Old Man” ,”That’ll Show Him” and more. And the moral of the story? Best summed up as the cast sings the closing refrains, “Morals tomorrow! Comedy tonight!”

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” is presented through special arrangement with Musical Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI www.MTIShows.com. Videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited. Show logo created by Peter de Seve © 1995. With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

The production takes comedy back to its roots, combining situations from time-tested, 2000 year old comedies of Roman playwright Plautus with the infectious energy of classic vaudeville. In the show, Pseudolus is the laziest slave in Rome and has but one wish, to purchase his freedom. When his master and mistress leave for the day he finds out that the young master has fallen in love with a virgin in the house of Lycus, a slave dealer specializing in beautiful women. Pseudolus concocts a deal in which he will be freed if he can procure the girl for young Hero. Of course, it can’t be that simple as everything begins to go wrong. And the moral? Best summed up as the cast sings, “Morals tomorrow! Comedy tonight!”

The Stephen Sondheim musical is produced by the college’s renowned Humanities, Fine & Performing Arts Division.


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