The Trilogy Repertory Company, the nice folks who bring you free theatre in the park, opens another great summer season of Bernards Township’s “Plays in the Park” on July 12 at Pleasant Valley Park in Basking Ridge with Stephen Sondheim’s musical comedy “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” The season will continue with the Lawrence and Lee drama, “Inherit the Wind,” which goes up on July 27.
“Forum,” directed by Jaye Barre of Basking Ridge, with musical direction by Marion Hagovsky Drew of Bernardsville, tells the story of the inhabitants of three houses in ancient Rome. In the central house, we find Pseudolus (David Rittenhouse), a cunning Roman slave who tries anything and everything to win his freedom from his masters, including the philandering Senex (Mark Hewitt), his exacting wife Domina (Joanna Hoty Russell), their not-so-clever son Hero (Tyler Barnick), and head slave Hysterium (Bill Corson). Complicating matters and adding to the fun are the residents of the brothel next door, run by Lycus (Michael Littman).
A third house remains empty while its owner Erronius (Ed Shroeder) searches for his long lost children, but the house is well-used in the slave’s plots. Pseudolus’ schemes, which include magic potions, a soothsayer, disguises, escapes, and the classic chase, are devised to help Hero woo and win Philia (Lauren Doyle), the virgin who lives in the brothel and is promised to Miles Gloriosus (Brian Herrie), a famed Roman warrior.
Other citizens are played by Lizzy Buckley, Kailyn Cavaluzzo, Luke Chiafullo, Angie Cocuzza, Sophie Dewli, Rachel Estrada, Lauren Farnell, James Ford, Michael Giangreco, Mia Kissil Hewitt, Sophia Kinder, Lisa Littman, Max Littman, Molly Littman, Germaine McGrath, Catherin Pankow, Corey Pankow, Jillian Petersen, Kathie Schuster, and Emily Vaias. This classic farce promises a night of great laughs, and theatergoers will enjoy themselves from the opening number, “Comedy Tonight,” through the “Finale.”
“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, opened on Broadway on May 8, 1962, and ran for 964 performances. The show won six Tony Awards, including the Best Actor Award for Zero Mostel for his portrayal of Pseudolus. It was revived in 1972 with Phil Silvers in the lead and won two Tony Awards, and once again in 1996 with Nathan Lane, who won the Tony for Best Actor. The show has successfully played in London several times and appears regularly in regional and community theaters across the country. The 1996 movie version starred Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, and Buster Keaton and won an Academy Award for Best Musical Score.
The partnership of Trilogy Repertory and Bernards Township has produced over twenty-five years of family entertainment and achieved several awards for both groups for excellence in theater programming. Most prominent are the awards from ACT (Achievement in Community Theater) and the prestigious “Excellence in Cultural Arts Programming.” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” is made possible, in part, by support from New Jersey State Council on the Arts,
“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” will be presented at the outdoor amphitheater at Pleasant Valley Park, Valley Road (next to the Veterans Hospital at Lyons), Basking Ridge, on July 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, and 21, at 8:00 p.m. Admission is free. Donations are gratefully accepted. Bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating. For information, call 908-204-3003 or their website www.trilogyrepertory.com.