Inspired by the farces of ancient Roman playwright Plautus (251-183BC), the Sondheim musical was originally produced on Broadway in 1962 where it won several Tony Awards.
The musical, directed by Lars Jensen, tells the story of Roman slave Pseudolus who yearns for his freedom, while his young master pines for the girl next door.
In exchange for his freedom, Pseudolus promises to find a way to unite the two young lovers but, as always, the course of true love never runs smooth, paving the way for many humorous moments and a twist in the tale.
“A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum is a true musical comedy with equal emphasis on both those words – the brilliant music of Stephen Sondheim, which is happily married to non-stop comic action,” Jensen said.
“The roots lie in Plautus’ work, which was meticulously researched by the creators of Forum but, given its multiple, interconnected plots, this musical trumps anything Plautus ever wrote.
“The plot displays all the elements of a classic farce including puns, a lot of coming in and out of doors, mistaken identities and satirical comments on social class.”
Jensen said the title of the show stems from a line often used by vaudeville comedians in music hall shows of yesteryear, as they announced: “A funny thing happened on the way to the theatre…”
There have been numerous productions of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum over the years, most recently at Ontario’s 2009 Stratford Shakespeare Festival and a Cantonese version in Hong Kong last year.
A film version was made in 1966 with starred Zero Mostel reprising his Broadway role as Pseudolus.
Jensen has assembled a talented cast for the Melville Theatre production, including Ross Bryant, Phil Mackenzie, Diana Ryman, Morgan Phillips, Craig Menner, Kimberley Harris, Emmet Nichols, Harry Lenthall, Judith Clark, Niquelle May, Barbara Lovell, Tarryn Bullock, Vicki Kirkman, Stuart Riches, Andrew Milne, Jeff Hansen and Warren McGrath.
Musical direction comes from David Hardie with choreography by Rachel Leonhardt.
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum plays at 8pm, April 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23 and 24 with 2pm matinees on April 11 and 18.
Tickets are $20, $15 concession – book on 9330 4565 or email [email protected] . Melville Theatre is on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway, Palmyra.