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