A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE REPRISE
Yet another revival of the perennial A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum is playing at the Freud Playhouse, a production of the Reprise Theatre Company and an excellent return to the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim it is.
I was privileged to see the original production right after it opened on Broadway in May of 1962 with Zero Mostel. The show ran for 964 performances and received the Tony Award for Best Musical for that season.
This show comes very close to catching the spirit of the original with a very talented cast, as it always is at the Reprise. Lee Wilkof assumes the Zero Mostel role with a lot of gusto but I have to admit that his performance leaves you wondering “Where is Zero now that we need him?” Even though he brings a lot o spirit and energy to the role, I found his almost shouting the words and lyrics somewhat irritating and reminded me more of Curly of the Three Stooges. Gone is the subtely and nuances Mostel brought to the role. Still he does a very adequate job.
Especially worth mentioning are Larry Raben’s wide eyed and totally clueless Hysterium, Ruth Williamson’s hilarious portrayal of the virago Domina and Stuart Ambrose bringing out the pomposity of Miles Gloriosus.
Everyone is running around, carrying out the complications of the plot such as exchanging courtesans, mistaken identities, unexpected returns of unwanted characters, crafty machinations and so forth…..and it all comes together pretty well. There are also a lot of double meanings in the lyrics, especially the song “Everybody Out to Have a Maid” with it’s sexual connotations and leaving the Womens’ Lib Movement standing on it’s head. Political correctness has no place in this production.
The only revival exceeding this offering wasNathan Lane’s splendid interpretation of the lead role in 1996, which garnered him the Tony and the show was as least as good, if not exceeding the quality of the original. But this production at the Reprise never leaves you wanting for more and all the main qualities which makes the show what is is known for are all still there to enjoy and appreciate.
The show is on for only a short run and so some high steppin’ is in order if you want to catch this production before it closes.