Theatre is expensive. Babysitters are expensive. Getting a sitter so you can go to the theatre is the cost of a vacation home in Aruba. So if you are planning to take the hubs out for a date night to a show it had BETTER BE WORTH IT! Riiiggghhhttt??
I took my husband to see A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the Scherr Forum in Thousand Oaks and am happy to say it was a fantastic choice for a night out.
The musical is a comedy through and through, as clearly stated in the opening number “Comedy Tonight,” so don’t go expecting high drama and complex plot lines you will have to discuss for hours on end afterwards, because you will not find it here. What you will find is slapstick comedy executed with terrific timing and verve, an enthusiastic company of professionals, and way more laughs then you would get Netflixin’ and Chillin’.
The story revolves around a Roman slave named Pseudolus, played by the impeccable Nick Santa Maria, and his dream of freedom. To achieve his goal he must help his master marry the girl he loves; the only virgin in the next door house of courtesans. (Of course there are courtesans. There are always courtesans.) Every kind of joke, misunderstanding, and pratfall you can imagine is performed with the kind of infectious enthusiasm that spreads through the audience like wildfire.
Santa Maria sails through the leading role with ease, flinging jokes around like pizza dough that sound fresh (hard to do with a dated piece like this one,) and endearing the audience without overplaying the part. Larry Raben is a riot as the suitably named fellow servent “Hysterium,” a role that can easily be annoying and shrill in the hands of a lesser actor. Matt Merchant as the towering soldier “Miles Gloriosus” is hilarious, his large stature accentuating his large comedic skill set. (He delivers the best pratfall I’ve ever seen on stage. Still laughing about that one.)
The women get a bit of a raw deal in this show, the roles are created more as props for the male characters to dread or drool over, but the actresses and dancers do their best with what is given. Brownie points given to Eliese Dewsberry for making the shrew character palatable and for the ingenue Claire Adams for pulling in some chuckles of her own.
The show is long – get that sitter ready for an extra hour or so, but in the end it is totally worth it. This is the kind of silly fun that goes hand in hand with a strong cocktail and a night of mindless giggles with your mate.
Worth the sitter? I say yes. Who needs that vacation house anyways??
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum runs now through Sunday, February 14th (hello Valentine’s Day!) Tickets and info at cabrillomusictheatre.com.