“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” at STC

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” is a musical farce that centers around three houses in ancient Rome, with the slave Pseudolus driving the action. Pseudolus will stop at nothing to earn his freedom, and his plot to secure it gets turned on its head over and over, as it should in any well-done farce.

Sacramento Theatre Company’s current production of “Forum” is a kick. The show itself is silly and fun, with lots of great comedic exchanges and an opening number that is sure to get stuck in audiences’ heads.

Michael RJ Campbell brings the lead character, Pseudolus, to life with flair. He throws himself into the role, and delivers an excellent performance. His wild facial expressions make his comedic moments even better, and his voice is perfect for the part.

The rest of the cast backs Campbell up ably. Hysterium, another slave and the counterpoint to Pseudolus, is played by Scottie Woodard. His frenzied performance is right-on for his character, and he holds up his end of the show very well.

Miles Gloriosus, an arrogant and brash military captain, is performed by the fantastic Jacob L. Smith. Smith plays the puffed-up character to a T, and makes me wish he had more time onstage.

Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly is particularly good in his role as Lycus, a buyer and seller of courtesans. Heatherly’s comedic timing is fine-tuned and excellently delivered. His exchanges with Campbell are a highlight of the show. I feel the same for Heatherly as I do for Smith – I wish they had more stage time.

As good as the overall production is, I have one complaint. I’ll admit that it’s a personal sticking point and that others might not mind as much, but… The music is canned. I don’t think there is any excuse for a professional theater company to be using pre-recorded music. Without live musicians, the actors cannot take liberties, and there is no room for flexibility in their performance. That said, no one got lost in the lengthy vamps, and the actors did a good job not looking like they were counting out measures constantly.

That one canned-music grievance aside, this is a very good production. The cast is solid, and the show is fun. Definitely an enjoyable way to spend an evening.

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” plays through May 18.  More information on the show and tickets can be found HERE.

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