fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

Something Appealing, Something Appalling

As you might guess from the title, I saw A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum at Shakespeare Theatre Company last night. This is a show I have deeply mixed feelings about. On the plus side, it is Sondheim. On the minus side, it's a farce (a form of comedy I detest) and is horribly sexist. I think it came out on the positive side overall, but there are other shows I would rather see.

This is early Sondheim and the music is quite conventional for the most part. The lyrics do have moments of some of his signature characteristics. I think the best example is the line from "Love I Hear" in which Hero sings, "Today I woke too weak to walk." That's an interesting sort of double alliteration. I also think the reprise of "Lovely," with Pseudoluse singing to Hysterium is a brilliant idea. And, yes, it is a well-known theatre story, but "Comedy Tonight" does indeed set the whole thing up perfectly.

As for the performances, my only real qualm is that Bruce Dow (as Pseudolus) seemed to be trying rather too hard to channel Zero Mostel. I could have lived without some of the self-conscious ad libs and excessive mugging. Tom Story was right on the mark as Hysterium and Lora Lee Gayer was an excellent Philia.

The choreography was a bit weak in some places. In particular, I didn't think the courtesans were sufficiently distinguished from one another. I'd also have preferred a fuller orchestra.

But overall it's a funny show with lots of potential earworms. That's true even when I cringe at the female roles and at the ridiculous chase scene.
Tags: holidailies, musicals, theatre

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