By: ERIN CALLAHAN – Staff Writer
The University of Dayton Theatre Program presented its spring musical, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” Friday, March 21, in the Kennedy Union Boll Theatre.
This comedic farce, rich with puns and satire, is about a slave named Pseudolus (played by senior nutrition and fitness major Ben Huey), helps his master try to win the love of a girl for the chance to win his freedom. Based on the old Greek play, “Plautus” by Miles Gloriosus, its comedic roots have spanned the test of time.
In contrast to last year’s musical, “bare,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” offers a more lighthearted and family-friendly atmosphere.
“This year we are on the opposite end of the spectrum,” said stage manager and junior theatre and English major Jess Urban. “The audience will leave feeling good, and there will be a lot of laughing. They should expect some surprising aspects, some funny bits, just a lot of comedy.”
Urban and the musical director, Gina Kleesattel stressed the importance of an collaborative cast, and boasted a strong group of actors and actresses that will deliver the perfect comedic experience that “Forum” has to offer.
“In a farce, comedic timing is everything. But because many of them know each other, that has flowed really smoothly,” Kleesattel said. “They all have that internal comedy on their own, within their personalities and with each other.”
The chemistry among the cast members has come easily, but a lot of preparation has gone into the rather uncommon stage feature, Urban said.
“The theater technicians have been really hard at work on our stage setting,” she said. “This is a two-story set which is not something we do very often.”
The set features a balcony that holds three cast members at once during a particular act, while a long, tall staircase is used for access to the balcony behind the scenes.
The cast and crew’s hard work on rehearsals and the set construction has not just been to put on a great show, Urban said. They also have a special motivation to make this musical memorable for one of the theatre program’s beloved members. Darrell Anderson, who has been the director of the theater program for 40 years, will retire at the end of the year and claims “Forum” as his favorite musical.
“I think we are all really aware, and we’re trying to make it great for him,” Kleesattell said. “We just want to hear Darrell laughing at the back of the house.”
When Anderson and Kleesattel selected the productions for this year, she found “Forum” among the list of possibilities, and she said she knew it had to make it to the stage.
“I laughed out loud reading it, I had forgotten how funny it is,” she said. “If you just want a great night of entertainment, this show makes for a good date night or maybe time spent with family. Anybody is going to find it funny.”
The musical will continue to run April 3, 4 and 5 at 8 p.m. at Boll Theater. The cost is $7 for UD students, faculty, and staff.