Who doesn’t like a great comedy? Combine it with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart (M.A.S.H.), and you’ve got a winner. The annual summer musical is being performed at Las Vegas Little Theatre (LVLT) with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
Combining all the facets of classic farce and a touch of vaudeville, the 1962 Tony Award winner may seem tired and worn out at first blush but is still as funny as ever, particularly if you put it into the capable hands of directors Walter Niejadlik and Gillen Brey.
The two have assembled a very talented cast and creative behind-the-scenes team. Giving the likes of Glenn Heath and Rob Kastil free rein to incorporate physical comedy will resonate with today’s audiences giving the production a new feel and atmosphere.
The script is truly a vehicle for the male characters. Pseudolus (Glenn Heath), Senex (Rob Kastil), Hysterium (Wayne Morton), Lycus (Marty Vece), and Miles Gloriosus (Matt Fisher) are all up to the task. It’s impossible to place any singular actor above the rest. Each one brings a vitality and freshness to their roles. The frenetic pacing never lets up, and their precise timing gives the overall a lift to the heavens, especially in the scenes between Pseudolus and Lycus and Pseudolus and Hysterium, where the timing is so crucial to the comedy.
Most theatergoers are very familiar with the opening number, “Comedy Tonight,” but there are two other numbers the cast makes particular fun: “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid” and Act 1 closer, “Bring Me My Bride.”
The female cast members all have supporting roles. What else could be expected given that the whole takes place 200 years before the Christian era? Of course, as we all know, women are the impetus to the entire plot–where would the world be without them? The one who stands out head and shoulders is Courtney Sheets as Domina. She puts enough bravado into the portrayal that matches her male castmates’ energy. Her timing is impeccable. With her single solo number, “That Dirty Old Man,” Sheets runs a gamut of emotions, from romantic to accusatory, with a wide vocal range and actually heightens the comedy.
The background players (Riley Adams, Eli Carlin, Ricky Lozano) called Proteans do a lot of heavy lifting with physical comedic aplomb, which adds to the fun.
It’s all tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top fun placed on a gorgeous Greco-Roman set by Ron Lindblom and beautifully lit by Ginny Adams.
Comedy is promised in the prologue, and it’s delivered here in spades. A packed house proves LVLT has a winner on its hands with this one. Go. Get your Summertime musical fun in air-conditioned comfort with ample, free parking.
What: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sundays through July 31, 2 p.m. Saturday, July 23
Where: Las Vegas Little Theatre-Mainstage, 3920 Schiff Drive
Tickets: $30 (702-362-7996; www.lvlt.org)
Grade: ****1/2 Delicious
Producer: Las Vegas Little Theatre; Director: Walter Niejadlik, Gillen Brey; Musical Director: Toby McEvoy; Choreographer: April Sauline; Costume Design: Rose Magee; Set Design: Ron Lindblom; Lighting Design: Ginny Adams; Sound: Mike Olsen; Stage Manager: Jim Braun