‘Forum’ More Than Delivers On ‘Funny’ Promise

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Even in an ensemble play, the cast and the audience need someone to root for, a leader. In “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” now staging at Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, Peter Scolari more than fits the bill. He’s funny, likable, energetic, entertaining and he gives the role of Pseudolus his all—with gusto.Having seen the production on Broadway, my expectations for this show were high. Mr. Scolari and his cast mates more than delivered.

“We’re here to worship the gods of comedy and tragedy,” he sings in the opening number, “Comedy Tonight.”

Yes. The full house last Thursday night must’ve left the theater just a little more devout, I know that I did.

Full of Shakespearian plot twists, mistaken identities and innuendo, this classic musical comedy by Burt Shevelove, Larry Gelbart and Stephen Sondheim lives up to its promise to deliver “something for everyone … and a happy ending, of course.” Not only did I laugh more during this show than I have in the entire last year, I don’t think the smile ever left my face during the entirety of the production.

Bravo Mr. Scolari! Your Pseudolus was cagey, clever, energetic and oh so watchable. Very, very well done.

Hats off also to the three Proteans—played by Glenn Giron, Grant Haralson and J. Morgan White—who were absolutely delightful in their spirited portrayals. And to Conrad John Schuck, who positively lit up the stage as Senex.

“Forum” is nothing without its supporting players, all of whom were not only terrific, but looked like they were having just as much fun as the audience. Every single one—Jackie Hoffman (great vocal range), Tom Deckman (Hysterium indeed), Lora Lee Gayer (beautiful voice, a natural comedian), Nick Verina (a stalwart Hero) and Laurent Giroux (dramatically delightful)—was perfectly cast and oh so enjoyable to watch.

Nathaniel Hackmann was a commanding and captivating Miles Gloriosus. Stewart Lane was so good in his role as Erronius that I didn’t even know it was him until I read the Playbill after the show.

The courtesans—Jen Bechter, Halley Cianfarini, Jessica Crouch, Shiloh Goodin, Phoebe Pearl and Terry Lavell—were comely, seductive and mesmerizing. Nice work ladies.

Of course, a show of this caliber wouldn’t be possible without strong direction and choreography, courtesy Marcia Milgrom Dodge. The rest of the crew and back-of-the-house talent also did a superb job here. Kudos to you all.

Bottom line: “Forum” is the best crowd-pleasing, rollicking good time in recent memory at this theater, or any theater for that matter. Buy your tickets, sing along and prepare to have a blast.

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” stages at Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor Tuesdays through Sundays, through September 1. Tickets start at $67.50 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 725-9500 or online at baystreet.org.

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