Belly Laughs in Ancient Rome
Until the 1962 premiere of A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum, Stephen Sondheim's acknowledged contribution to Broadway theatre had been solely as a lyricist. Rumours do exist about a compromise between him and Bernstein on West Side Story, but Forum was the first Broadway show billed as “music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim." Despite his enormous and genius output over a career spanning nearly 60 years so far, it is almost surprising to learn that the Broadway premiere season of A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum remains to this day Sondheim’s most successful by a long way. It ran at the Alvin Theatre for 964 performances over 2 years and 3 months. In comparison, Company ran 705 performances, Into the Woods 764 and Sweeney Todd “just” 557. And yet Forum remains strangely “known of, but not known” in the general psyche of music theatre lovers.
The wonderful people at PHOENIX THEATRE COMPANY are set to change that! Their 7 show season of this hilarious musical farce opens this Friday at the Doncaster Playhouse. Under the guidance of director/choreographer and company founding member (she’s been treading the boards with Phoenix Theatre Company since childhood!), Renee Maloney, the company of 15 brings life to ancient Rome in most unexpected ways. The plot’s twists and turns are complex enough to rival Gilbert and Sullivan at their very best, or even Mozart’s Magic Flute (a plot that defies summary completely!). In short … the slave, Pseudolus, in a desperate attempt to win his freedom, makes every effort to help his young master Hero, earn the love of the courtesan, Philia. Hero’s father, the slave-master Marcus Lycus, has however already promised Philia to the renowned, and somewhat corpulent, Miles Gloriosus thus leaving Hero (and, of course Pseudolus) the difficult task of out-witting both Marcus Lycus and Miles Gloriosus. Meanwhile, Hero’s ancient neighbour, Erronius, continues his 20-year-long, as-yet-fruitless search for his lost children who were kidnapped in their infancy by pirates. In the very best tradition of all such wondrous books (this one by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, inspired by the writings of ancient Roman playwright, Plautus), Philia and Miles turn out to be brother and sister AND the children of Erronious leaving Philia able to marry Hero, and Pseudolus his freedom … HOORAY!
The show opens with a bang with one of Sondheim’s most memorable romps “Comedy Tonight”, setting the scene for the cast and Musical Director, Katie Packer, to lead you through a performance full of charm, wit, slap-stick and belly-laughs. As MD, Katie brings a wealth of experience to this production having been involved either as MD or as a performer in EVERY Phoenix production since 2007. Ross McKinnon, making his debut as a principal artist for PHOENIX, leads this terrific ensemble in the role of Pseudolus, the whole constellation bringing life to PHOENIX THEATRE COMPANY’S stated philosophy of integrating younger performers with those more experienced on a stage. The company believes that performers and production staff form the back bone of our theatrical community and constantly encourage people to push their creative limits and explore their full potential within a safe and structured environment.
Treat yourself to a few hours of theatrical magic in the full spirit of community theatre at its best.
Phoenix Theatre Company presents…
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM
679 Doncaster Road
Friday 25th May 8pm
Saturday 26th May 2pm & 8pm
Thursday 31st May 8pm
Friday 1st June 8pm
Saturday 2nd June 2pm & 6pm
Info: (03) 9012 5897 or www.phoenixtheatrecompany.org