A cast of fifteen theatre arts professionals brings this musical to life under the direction of Mark Baer, complete with dance numbers choreographed by Andrew Bradford Benson and musical direction by returning guest artist Neil Powell.
"I couldn't hope for a better group of artists to embark on this production with. They are energetic, playful, smart, and ready to work hard,” says Festival Theatre’s Artistic Director Jaclyn Johnson. “And in the hands of one of my favorite directors, Mark Baer, I feel confident that our production will be every bit as fun, ambitious and hilarious as the script implies."
“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, is based on the plays of Plautus. Music for the original production was written by Stephen Sondheim, also famous for the music of “Company,” “A Little Night Music,” “Sunday in the Park with George” and “Into the Woods.” As the story goes, Pseudolus, a slave in Ancient Greece played by actor Joseph Pyfferoen, is dead set on gaining his freedom through whatever means necessary. When his master leaves on a trip, his master’s son, Hero, played by Jerry Kurek, presents Pseudolus with a deal: help him win the hand of Philia (Millicent Marter), a beautiful courtesan currently betrothed to a war hero, and he will give Pseudolus his freedom. What ensues is a raucous mix of mistaken identity, invented maladies, and mischief that won the original production Tony awards for Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical.
Veteran director Mark Baer always feels at home when returning to Festival. In addition to serving as Managing Directing in 2002-05, Mark directed the recent Festival productions of “To Fool the Eye,” “Once Upon a Mattress,” and “Man of La Mancha.” Originally from Ohio, Baer holds an MFA in Directing from Illinois State University. He is currently Assistant Professor of Acting and Directing at Indiana University Northwest, where he has recently produced and directed “Eurydice” by Sarah Ruhl, “Dracula” by Steven Dietz, and “The Miser” by Moliere. He is a founding member of Gary Shakespeare Company, where he will be directing “Twelfth Night” later this summer.
Of working again with Johnson and the creative team at Festival Theatre, Baer says, “Jaclyn’s skill as a casting director is one of the things that makes directing at Festival a joy. She is excellent at assembling a company of lovely people whose talents precisely match the challenges of the play at hand.”
“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” opens Thursday, June 19th with two performances, 2:00 and 7:30 pm. Other events and calendar dates to note are as follows: Sew Good Improv begins this Friday, June 6th at 9:00 pm following Music on the Overlook; “Ole & Lena’s 50th Wedding Anniversary and Vow Renewal” will be presented during Wannigan Days on Saturday, June 14th at 2:00 and 7:30 pm; The Fiddle Masters with Brian Wicklund take the stage Friday, June 20th at 8:00 pm, and the Opening of the Season Garden Party will celebrate the commencement of Festival’s 25th season on Saturday, June 21st at 6:00 pm. Corporate sponsors for the 2014 Theatre Series are Amery Regional Medical Center, Chateau St. Croix Winery and Vineyard, Edina Realty, RCU, and Thrivent Financial.
Tickets for Forum are $26 for adults and $13.50 for youth. This production is Flex Pass eligible and discounted rates are available for groups of ten or more.