A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
by The Young Artists of the Wolf Theatre Academy

The Shwayder Theater in Denver presented a favorite Comedy Tonight in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”. With music by Stephen Sondheim, and the book by Burt Shevelove & Larry Gelbart (of M*A*S*H fame), the show is a Roman feast of comedy that hits hard with joke after fast paced joke. With easy sets and a fantastic group of talented musicians (directed by Donna Kolpan Debreceni), the production by the Wolf Theatre Academy is an entertaining night of theatre.

The story follows a crafty slave, Pseudolus (played dynamically by Katie Feld- yes, a GIRL!), who struggles to win the hand of a beautiful but slow-witted courtesan named Philia for her young master Hero, in exchange for freedom. Dotted with sub-plots of a house filled with courtesans, Hero’s bumbling yet likeable parents, an ego-maniacal Roman captain and a slave named Hysterium as Pseudolus’ help-mate, the show clicks along expertly weaving a fast-paced & hilarious story.

Notable performances given in this cast included the incredible vocal talent of Daniel Traylor as Hero, and the standout comic performance of the evening by Cooper Kaminsky as Hysterium. The role of Pseudolus is one of musical theatre’s best gifts to an actor, and having it played by (gasp!) a girl didn’t change its weight a bit- many kudos to Katie Feld for a triumphant turn in this very difficult role. Hero’s parents, Domina & Senex, played here by Elliot Clough & (darling mini Bette Midler look-alike) Alyssa Goss, were both funny and played appropriately “BIG”. The large-voiced Rafael Ward as Miles Gloriosus looked almost like an adult stand-in for the role, especially next to all those little Roman soldiers, and his expressions were right on target for this wonderful part. Also fun to watch were the brightly costumed and larger-than-life Lycus, played by Jasmine Strom Vaghedi and oh-so-lovely Philia, played perfectly dumb by Shayna Goldstein.

The best moments in the show were from the ongoing… on and on….and on… “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid”, the hilarious “Funeral”, and the great performance by Kari Day-Lucore as Erronius, who remained in character even during intermission at the restrooms.

One of the highlights of this production was the incredibly tight combo of musicians who accompanied the show with many special effects and a great blended sound, making the theater sound as if it were filled with an orchestra rather than just 3 pieces. The costumes (by local costume guru Cindy Catanese), although not conceptually tied together for the show, were fun and bright and seemed to put everyone at their best. Choreography by Melissa McCarl was highly simplistic, but effective. This reviewer saw the show on its opening night, and as time goes on through performances it is likely comic timing and dialogue pacing, which were very, very fast tonight, will improve. Director Charlie Miller presented a fun and polished production and it is apparent the cast has enjoyed being a part of this group’s first mainstage production of the summer.

Performed June 21-25, 2006.

Tammy Franklin
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Pseudolus: Katie Feld
Hysterium: Cooper Kaminsky
Senex: Elliot Clough
Domina: Alyssa Goss
Hero: Daniel Traylor
Philia: Shayna Goldstein
Lycus: Jasmine Strom Vaghedi
Miles Gloriosus: Rafael Ward
Erronius: Kari Day-Lucore
Tintinabula: Xochitl Portillo
Panacea: Ilana Elroi
Gemina I: Afton Montgomery
Gemina II: Sarah Moya
Vibrata: Hannah Recht
Gymnasia: Amalia Ritter
Juno: Jacob Goldstein
Eunuch 1: Sam Gottsegen
Eunuch 2/ Tragic Actor: Josh Brown
Laura Abelman
Emily Abramson
Tessa Boyd
Zoey Brown
Rebecca Donnelly
Addie Goff
Emma Grueskin
Yasmine Hill
Hayley Skinner
Emmeline Taylor
Talya Zax


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