CTL’s ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’ offers laughs

One of Broadway’s funniest musicals ever written will be making its way to The Community Theatre on Sept. 20 for a two-week engagement.”A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” is irreverent, fast-paced and incredibly funny with music by the great Stephen Sondheim. The Community Theatre League has assembled a talented cast of veteran performers and newcomers in this wacky musical farce.

Director Jacquie Engel calls the show one of her top five favorite musicals – and with good reason.

“We rarely stop laughing in rehearsals!” she said. “It’s wonderful spending evenings with some of the funniest people around, working out the crazy scenes in this show. It takes precise comic timing and when they get it, we just howl. It’s an incredible process to be a part of.”

The story centers around the Roman slave Pseudolus and his quest to gain his freedom. With an elaborate combination of little white lies, mistaken identities and scantily-clad courtesans, Pseudolus manages to win the girl for his master and gain his freedom. Pseudolus is played by Tom Degan, veteran performer with shows such as “Plaid Tidings” and “Hello Dolly” under his belt. He is slave in the house of Senex, who is played by Keith Wagner. Wagner is often seen in comedies and farces, so this musical seemed a good show to use his comedy and musical talents. Senex’s son Hero, played by Gabe King – last seen as Jean Valjean in ACTUP’s “Les Miserables” – is in love with Philia, a courtesan in the House of Lycus. Philia is played by Hannah Swanson and Lycus is portrayed by Scott Knyrim.

The gods seem to be conspiring against the young lovers as Philia is sold to the captain of the Roman Guard, Miles Gloriosus, played by Andrew Robison. All works out in the end, as Pseudolus enlists the help of fellow slave Hysterium, portrayed by Ryan Lannan, and three proteans – Josh Adams, Brian McKeon, and Sean Temons – to help facilitate his plan. With the arrival of Hero’s mother Domina, played by Miki Rebeck, and the aging Erroneous, played by Larry Fryda, the play wraps up in stunning fashion with a happy ending, side-splitting hilarity and absolutely no moral at all.

“It’s a comedy after all,” said Engel.

Rounding out the cast and playing the courtesans are Jessica Bass, Renee Chamberlin, Sherilyn Lovell, Diane Robertson, Alanna Robison and Lesley Shuman.

“Because no Roman comedy is complete without a few courtesans,” quips the director.

The show is music directed by Martena Rogers with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart. Show dates and times are 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20, 21 and 26-28; and 2 p.m. Sept. 29. Tickets are available online at or by calling 327-1777, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” is sponsored by the Sun-Gazette and the Jim Dinsmore Liberty Mutual Group.