Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
A Funny Thing Happened
A Funny Thing Happened
Stephen Sondheim's name is in the air these days. Most recently he made news with the opening of his latest work, Bounce, at the Kennedy Center. Unfortunately, there was a lack of spring in Bounce's step. Therefore, it was with great anticipation that Signature Theatre opened its production of the Sondheim-Shevelove-Gelbart musical comedy, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. Happily, Forum does not disappoint.
Stephen Sondheim's character driven score is very creative. It blends well with the very amusing book authored by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart. Forum introduces the audience to Pseudolus, a Roman slave whose only wish is to gain freedom. When he discovers that his youthful master has fallen in love with a courtesan, he makes a deal. If Pseudolus can win the lovely Philia for the young Hero, the slave will secure his freedom. Thus begins a series of schemes that throws everyone involved into chaos.
Directed by Gary Griffin, the Signature production is extraordinarily fun. The cast is headed by popular DC actor Floyd King (pictured at right). King is superb as the wily slave, Pseudolus. He forms a connection with the audience as soon as he walks on stage. With his delightful delivery and occasional forays beyond the fourth wall, King exhibits immense personality in this role. Joining him is Sean MacLaughlin as Hero. MacLaughlin portrays Hero's boyishness and naivety extremely well. MacLaughlin does an excellent job of holding his own with a cast that contains a wealth of talent.
Lauren Williams plays the sweet but dense Philia. Not only does Williams have a wonderful voice, but she displays a terrific comedic sense. She displays these qualities throughout the show, but they are especially evident during the duet, "Lovely." As Hero's parents, Donna Migliaccio (Domina) and Harry A. Winter (Senex) give standout comedic performances. Christopher Flint is deliciously vain as the testosterone filled Miles Gloriosus and Buzz Mauro evokes side-splitting laughs as the harassed slave, Hysterium.
The set by Lou Stancari is quite compact but the series of three Roman homes serve their purpose well. The only drawback is these set pieces are quite high. The result is the views of the balconies are obstructed due to the girders that hang from the ceiling. However, the lighting by Mike Daniels complements the set well. Timm Burrow's costumes are appropriate for the piece and Christie Kelly's hair design fits the time period.
Those seeking a hilarious night of entertainment will find what they are looking for at Signature Theatre. Forum provides an exuberant theatrical treat. A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum runs through December 14th.
The Signature Theatre
Prologus/Pseudolus: Floyd King