My favorite performances of the evening were those of Adam Heller as Pseudolus, and John Scherer, who practically stole the show as the head slave, Hysterium. Mary Gutzi played Domina, Hero’s mother, with aplomb, dominating the stage with her presence and her tremendous singing voice. David Wohl also shone in his role as Senex, Domina’s husband. He looked so weary, henpecked and downtrodden that I almost felt sorry for him, and could understand why, when he was away from his wife, he wanted to “play.” Almost understand, that is.
The courtesans all seemed like adequate dancers, with some better than others, but they really did not get much of a chance to show off their dancing skills. I’m not sure if it was the fault of director/choreographer Ted Pappas, or just a result of what appeared to be a crowded set, but it seemed they did little more than gyrate around the stage to show off their bodies to an enraptured Psuedolus during the song "The House of Marcus Lycus."
Despite the lack of memorable dancing, the show provided an enjoyable evening of theater. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is diverting enough to make you forget about the real world and immerse yourself in the laughter of the story that unfolds before you. As the famous opening song says, it’s “tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight.”
About the theater: Goodspeed Musicals produces three musicals each season at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT and additional productions at the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT. Goodspeed is the only regional theater to receive two Tony Awards for outstanding achievement. It also maintains the Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and the Max Showalter Center for Education in the Musical Theater. For more information or for tickets, visit them online or call 860-873-8668.
Photos © 2009 Diane Sobolewski, Goodspeed Musicals