Sexy fun time
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
A lot of funny things happen on the way to the forum, most related to sex: a virgin who lives in a whorehouse (no, really) is sold, sight unseen, to a Roman captain, but she’s already fallen in love with another virgin (no, really) who lives with his mother and father in the house across the street. The second (male) virgin’s slave then schemes to get the two virgins together (and what fun could that possibly be?) while acquiring his own freedom.
Here’s a hint: There are five doors and six windows on the stage, which equates to a bunch of running about and confused identity. Couple that with some pretty good Sondheim songs, some better than pretty good voices and a few updated jokes to get a night of frolicking, sexy fun.
Fair Oaks Theatre Festival’s production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum benefits a great deal from Jeff Labowitch, who plays Prologus. He holds the show together with some really good singing and a comic sensibility that’s aided immeasurably by his ability to wiggle his eyebrows and roll his eyes. Helping out are the gifts for low humor that Raymond Keller (Marcus Lycus, the pimp) and Joe Hart (Senex, the dirty old man) bring to the table, as well as the incredible naiveté that Rashad Jahi and Amanda Valli, playing the love-struck virgins, project along with their clear, fine vocals.
But the bit players really wrap the whole thing up. The young men tasked with playing everything from eunuchs to soldiers are hilarious, as are the women playing courtesans.
As Gymnasia, one of the more abundant courtesans, Brianne Hidden doesn’t have a line, but she, um, dominates the scene when she’s onstage.
In spite of the smoke, which may have quieted Fair Oaks’ noisy chickens, Forum is a bawdy romp in the best sense of the words.