Welcome to ancient Rome, which is currently located at the newly crowned Garry Marshall Theatre in Burbank, where A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is being performed through Sunday, December 31.
The musical comedy has been around since the time of Caesar (Sid, not Julius), having its Broadway debut in 1962. It also boasts of having music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart (of M*A*S*H fame). With that pedigree it’s understandable why the show has endured.
This production is helmed by the Marshall Theatre’s Artistic Director Joseph Leo Bwarie (the multi-talented Jersey Boys alumnus), who gives Forum a fabulous burlesque flair.
The opening number “Comedy Tonight” sets the pace for the lusty crowd-pleasing show starring Broadway veteran Paul C. Vogt as “Pseudolus.” (Note: Joey McIntyre will step into that lead role from November 22 to December 10).
“Pseudolus” is a slave trying to win his freedom by becoming a matchmaker for his young master Hero (played with sincere sweetness by Michael Thomas Grant). Hilarity ensues for a “lovely” virgin (Nicole Kaplan), henpecked husband (Kevin Symons), shrewish wife (Candi Milo), slick pimp (E.K. Dagenfield), swaggering soldier (Clayton Snyder), nervous eunuch (Ethan Cohn), and sassy courtesans (Shamicka Benn, Liz Bustle, Vanessa Nicole). All are worthy of high praise for their enthusiastic performances. The theatrical toga party is pure entertainment because of them.
The behind the scenes entertainment gods include musical director Brent Crayon, choreographer Becca Sweitzer, costume designer Jessica Hansen, with wig/hair design by Jessica Mills, and lighting design by Francois-Pierre Couture showing off the stunning scenic design by Fred Kinney. Casting is by Jami Rudofsky.
“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” plays through Sunday, December 31 (with a special New Year’s Eve twilight performance bubbling with champagne and streamers). Shows are Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm; Sundays at 3pm and 7:30pm and Wednesday, December 27 at 8pm. The Garry Marshall Theatre is located at 4252 W Riverside Dr. in Burbank. For more information or to purchase tickets call (818) 955-8101 or visit GarryMarshallTheatre.org.