Monday, August 8, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum—Broadway Rose—Tigard, OR

A Comedy or Errors

This classic comedy-musical was written by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.  It is directed and choreographed by Abe Reybold with Music Direction by Eric Nordin.  It is playing at the Deb Fennell Auditorium (across from Tigard High School), 9000 SW Durham Rd. in Tigard, through August 21st.  For more information, go to their site at www.broadwayrose.org or call 503-620-5262.

This vaudeville style of show does not even try to allude to anything more than just pure fun and entertainment.  Picture the Three Stooges or the Marx Bros. running rampant in old Rome and you have a pretty good idea of what’s in store for you.  Most comedies nowadays try to sneak in a message or give the story an ironic or satirical twist.  In this one, you could make a case for the demeaning of women, or the wrongfulness of slavery, or a caste system, etc.  But these elements go zinging right by you and you never pay them a mind.  As the show proclaims, “Comedy Tonight!”

The story is essentially about three houses in old Rome.  The house of the eccentric, Erronius (Kevin- Michael Moore) stands mostly empty, for he is on a quest to find his two children, snatched from their cradles when they were infants over twenty years ago.  When he does return, over the course of this story, he is told by a “soothsayer” that he must make seven trips around the seven hills of Rome and then his children will be returned.  Strangely, this works in an odd sort of way.

The second house is the house of lecherous Lycus (Norman Wilson) with his “family” of bustling, busty beauties (Deanna Olsen White, Kelsey Bentz, Louise Chambers, Krista Monaghan, Laura Hiszczynskyj, and Vanessa Elsner) all ready to “do anything” to increase the coffers of their master.  In other words, a house of ill-repute.  His recent acquisition is his most prized, a rather-dippy virgin, Philia (Kaitlyn Sage), but she has been promised to an egotistical captain in the Roman army, Gloriosus (Colin Wood), who is scheduled to pick her up soon.

And the third and main house of the story, is of the hen-“pecked,” Senex (Mike Dederian) and his wife, the “pecker,” nagging, Domina (Emily Sahler).  He has his eyes (among other things) on the House of Lycus and especially their newest “purchase.”  But he also has a young, naïve, spacey son, Hero (Ethan Crystal), who has his orbs on the self-same philly.  They also have two servants, the head man, the excitable, Hysterium (Joe Theissen) and the resourceful (and narrator of the story), Pseudolus (Dan Murphy, founding, General Manager of B/R).  He, perhaps foolishly, has promised Hero the bride of his dreams if he is granted his freedom.

And let us not forget the citizens and soldiers of Rome, too, the Proteans, all played by three people, Collin Carver, Joey Klei and Raphael Likes.  Now that you have all the necessary ingredients for this mischievous, madcap, mayhem, I’ll let you mix these elements well and you will be able to piece together the story.  Note, the film of this is also quite good with the outrageous, Zero Mostel playing the lead in both stage and screen versions with the support of fellow comedians, Phil Silvers, Jack Gilford, Buster Keaton, a dramatic actor, Michael Horden and a young Michael Crawford (before “Phantom”).

The songs are not particularly memorable but do fit the story well.  The most famous probably being “Everybody Ought to have a Maid,” “Lovely,” and, of course, the aforementioned, “Comedy Tonight.”  Reybold has managed to keep the show free-flowing and light with many sight gags.  I especially liked Moore’s slow trek around the hills and the chase scene toward the end.  Nordin and his group of musical merry-makers are “pitted” front and center but do not overpower the actors.  And the set by Sean O’Skea is very well designed, giving plenty of room for the players and yet very expressive.

The whole cast is in very good voice as they manage to entice many of the fine singers in this area for their shows.  The trio of Proteans (Carver, Klei and Likes), nearly steal the show, playing a variety of contrasting characters, sometimes with only seconds between changes.  Certainly the busiest cast members in the show and very well done.  Theissen is also note-worthy as Murphy’s “henchman” and they play well off each other.  Murphy is at the top of his game playing the chief slave.  He’s a pro and it shows.  Also he doesn’t attempt to copy Mostel’s, over-the-top style of acting but instead gives it more of a Tim Conway approach, down-playing a bit and letting the jokes, silliness sink in.  A hoot!

I recommend this show.  If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.