“Something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone – a comedy tonight!” And with that opening line, the audience is introduced to Stephen Sondheim’s musical farce, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” at North Springs Charter High School.
Inspired by the farces of the ancient Roman playwright Plautus, the show tells the story of Roman slave, Pseudolus, who is attempting to win his freedom by successfully uniting his master, Hero, and the girl next door, Philia, a virgin. Unfortunately, Philia has already been purchased by Miles Gloriosus, a renowned warrior, who is on his way to claim her from Marcus Lycus, a buyer and seller of courtesans.
Cameron Frostbaum is wonderful as Pseudolus, with an excellent voice and terrific stage presence. He brings physical comedy and charisma to the role, making the audience pull for him from the very beginning.
Thaddeus Kolwicz is the love-sick Hero. Kolwicz, a fine actor, has a nice voice, beautifully displayed in his solo, “Love, I Hear” and also in his duet with Philia, “Lovely.” Tate Anderson is perfectly cast as the cheery and innocent Philia. She also showed her comic abilities with “That’ll Show Him.”
Christian Kaiser (Senex) and Bronte Upshaw (Domina) are terrific as Hero’s parents. Kaiser reminds one of Groucho Marx as the browbeaten Senex. Upshaw makes the role of the overbearing Domina her own without letting her become strident. Upshaw gave a fine performance of “That Dirty Old Man” while Kaiser shone along with Frostbaum, Tommy Lennon and Jordan Rich in “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid.”
Jordan Rich performed the role of Hysterium with great physical comedy, somehow balancing this frenetic part with believability. His song, “I’m Calm” was hilarious. Tommy Lennon was great as the somewhat wimpy Lycus. Eric Rich was superb as the formidable Miles Gloriosus. And Alex Toor did a nice job in the role of Erronius, Senex’s neighbor, searching for years for his children who were kidnapped in infancy by pirates.
The three Proteans (Annie Brandt, Alex Hudson and Kameron Porter) served as a quasi-Greek chorus, playing multiple roles throughout the show. While they had few lines, their performance at various times as slaves, eunuchs, citizens and soldiers, was critical to the show and required a lot of physical comedy. Brandt, Hudson and Porter all provided excellent performances.
Likewise, the courtesans in Lycus’ house provided excellent dancing in this production. The lovely courtesans were played by Shelby Moss (Tintinabula), Caroline Bagley (Panacea), Kaitlyn Reynell and Emma Clinch (the Geminae), Leenie Baker (Gymnasia, and Kristen Edwards as the hilarious Vibrata.
This excellent cast was joined by six ensemble singers (JaQuan Beachum, Evelyn Iaccobucci, Marcellus McQueen, Olivia Medley, Alon Samuels, and Rachel Stein), 23 members of the technical crew, and 33 pit orchestra members resulting in one fantastic rendition of a show that debuted nearly half a century ago. Many thanks to North Springs faculty members who guided these excellent students in bringing this show to life: Steve Young (Director), LesLeigh Golson (Producer), Marty Aikens (Technical Director), Mike Brown (Pit Director), Van Craven (Musical Director, Pianist), and Andrea Edmonstone (Choreographer).
“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” continues with performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday April 26, 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for students and senior adults and $15 for adults. Due to content, this production is not recommended for small children. Tickets are available at the school’s website www.northspringshigh.com.