‘A Funny Thing’ will happen

Posted 7/8/10

Readers who are familiar with the intimate space in the 92-seat Vintage Theatre may be wondering this: “How is director Linda Suttle going to fit …

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‘A Funny Thing’ will happen


Readers who are familiar with the intimate space in the 92-seat Vintage Theatre may be wondering this: “How is director Linda Suttle going to fit the big musical ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’ into that space?”

The answer is very cleverly and carefully. Vintage Theatre’s first musical production is a winner and perfect summer fare. Every move is planned, down to the chases and door slamming, interspersed with old Erronius’ seven slow trips around the town.

Of course, it’s a huge step to have terrific material to work with: Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning music and lyrics and a silly story based on plays by Roman Titus Maccius Plautus (254-184 BC), material comedians have used and re-used over centuries.

Suttle writes in her director’s notes of “the sly servants scheming and plotting and outwitting their masters and the upper class in general, the senile skirt chasers, hen-pecked husbands, domineering matrons, unethical politicians, disguises, mistaken identities, double takes and double meanings, all the things we still laugh at today, are found in the works of Plautus.”

Time: a day in spring, two hundred years before the Christian era. Setting is a street in Rome in front of the houses of Lycus, Senex and Erronius, rendered in bright colors, with doors and an occasional window.

To one side, a series of Roman arches set off the four piece live band, which launches into the overture.

Enter Bernie Cardell, as Prologus/Pseudolus, who introduces the cast and brings us up to date on what’s happening: middle-aged Senex ( Don De Veux), who has an eye for the next-door courtesans at Lycus’ establishment, prepares reluctantly to accompany his overbearing wife Domina (Bonnie McIntyre) to visit her mother in the country.

He instructs his slave Pseudolus to keep a close eye on 20-year-old son Hero (Rob Rehburg), who is most interested in a young lady next door-the lovely and not too bright Philia (Kelly Twedt).

She, alas, is promised to the great general Miles Gloriosus (Larry Davis) and must be an obedient courtesan. Lycus, the proprietor of this seamy establishment is played by dependably funny Bob Legett, who looks continually surprised at what transpires.

Senex also instructs his uptight slave Hysterium (Tyler Collins) to be sure Pseudolous complies with his instructions— an invitation to trouble!

At the top of wiley Pseudolus’ agenda is gaining his freedom and becoming a citizen of Rome. He makes a deal with Hero that if he helps him connect with Philia, the trade-out is freedom.

Assorted parallel stories flow through, plus big song and dance numbers by the sexy and individualized Courtesans, the Proteans and who ever else is on hand. One of my favorite scenes involves the over-the top military man’s arrival on the scene, and Davis is suitably bombastic.

Veteran actor Roger Simon bumbles beautifully as old Erronius, whose children were stolen by pirates many years ago. He leaves to search for them abroad, although his vision is dim. While he’s gone, his house sees some action.

The second act brings Domina’s funny number about “That Dirty Old Man,” delivered with style and sass. And a final bit from Pseudolus about “Morals tomorrow. Comedy Tonight!”

Vintage is a versatile and ambitious company. Next on its agenda will be the safe and comfortable “On Golden Pond” from Aug. 20 to Sept. 19. Then it takes on a 20th century masterpiece: Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” Parts I and II, running in repertory Oct. 1 to Nov. 7, with Cardell in the director’s role.

If you go:

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” plays through Aug. 8 at Vintage Theatre, 2119 E. 17th Ave., Denver. Performances: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $25 at the door, $20 in advance. 303-839-1361, vintagetheatre.com.


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