‘A Funny Thing Happened’ In Robsham Theater

‘Forum’ provides audiences with something familiar, something peculiar.

It has been 50 years since the debut Broadway performance of Stephen Sondheim’s farcical comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. All this week in the Robsham Theatre Arts Center, however, the Boston College theatre department is proving that the show’s wit, humor, and much beloved weirdness have not gone out of style.

Directed by BC professors Stuart J. Hecht and Luke Jorgensen, the show is set around three houses—one belonging to Erronius (Maisie Laud, A&S ’16), an elderly man whose children have been kidnapped by pirates. The second is the residence of the lecherous Senex (Chris Pinto, A&S ’16) and his formidable wife, Domina (Julianne Quaas, A&S ’15), and the third is a brothel. With the departure of Senex and his wife, their mischievous slave, Pseudolus (Ryan Cooper, A&S ’16), holds down the fort and in order to win his freedom, promises their son, Hero (Jared Reinfeldt, A&S ’16), the heart of the beautiful Philia (Kathryn Raskin, LSOE ’15). As the title would suggest, the plot is then driven by many comical and somewhat nonsensical obstacles such as several cases of mistaken identity which cause the plot to descend into chaos.

Taking his starring role in his stride, Cooper is a wonderfully witty narrator whose comical quips roll off his tongue with ease. Opening the show, he quickly becomes an ally of the audience and prevents us from getting lost in the somewhat complex and at times confusing plot. Doubling as both the narrator and Pseudolus, Cooper switches seamlessly between his two roles and his impeccably timed puns provide a platform on which his fellow actors can excel.

Although near every aspect of the show’s casting deserves high praise, there are some stand-out performances in this production. Pinto, through his comical asides and gestures, gives a subtle yet impressive performance as Senex. His catchy rendition of “Everybody Ought to have a Maid” is a definite highlight and Pinto invests the entirety of his character into his singing and choreography. As well as this, his duet with Reinfeldt, “Impossible” is extremely well done and provides a hilarious insight into the awkward father and son relationship, which both actors portray brilliantly.

Andrew Troum, A&S ’16, shines in the first act, capturing perfectly the slimy and avaricious character of the brothel-owner Marcus Lycus, in his exaggerated swirling across the stage and tossing of his cloak. Raskin’s singing voice is not her only asset, as her depiction of the sweet and stupid damsel of the show is simply charming. Her performance of the song “Lovely” is faultless.

Lastly, Laud’s portrayal of Erronius definitely must not be overlooked as she punctuates the performance at intervals and, though absent for the majority of the action, becomes the character that the audience is delighted to see.

This production of the 1962 musical—put together in just three weeks—is a resounding success and as promised in the show’s outstanding opening number, it provides the audience with something familiar, something peculiar, and another something for everyone.

‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’ runs in Robsham Theater now through Sunday, Oct. 26. Tickets are available at the Robsham Ticket Office.

Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor