Shows F

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM a musical farce in 2 acts. Book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, based on the plays of Plautus. Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Opened 8 May 1962 at the Alvin Theatre, moved 9 March 1964 to the Mark Hellinger Theatre, moved 12 May 1964 to the Majestic Theatre, and closed 29 August 1964 after 964 performances Strand Theatre, London, 3 October 1963 Produced at the Alvin Theatre, New York, 8 May 1962 with Zero Mostel (Pseudolus), Jack Gilford (Hysterium), David Burns (Senex) and Ruth Kobart (Domina). Produced at the Strand Theatre, London, 3 October 1963 with Frankie Howerd, Kenneth Connor, "Monsewer" Eddie Gray and Linda Gray. A film version was released by United Artists in 1966 with Mostel, Gilford, Michael Hordern, Patricia Jessel, Phil Silvers (Lycus), Buster Keaton (Erronius) and Michael Crawford (Hero). STORY Act I A spring evening in Ancient Rome, circa 200 years before the Christian era, and, as is his wont, the thespian Prologus bids us welcome to his temple - wherein are worshipped the gods of tragedy and comedy. Alas, tragedy will have to wait, for it is Comedy Tonight. "Raise the curtain!" he cries, and promptly it falls to the floor, revealing the set on which tonight's entertainment will be played - the adjoining houses of Erronius, Senex and Lycus. But Prologus seems more taken by the character of Senex's son's slave Pseudolus: "a role of enormous variety and nuance, and played by an actor of such . . ." - in other words, his own part. As the play begins, Senex and Domina are off to the country, leaving their slave Hysterium in charge of the moral welfare of their son, Hero. But Hero is advanced for his years and feeling strange. The reason? "Love, I Hear," he confides to the audience: what else makes you sigh, and hum a lot, too? The object of his affection is a courtesan at the house of Lycus, but, sadly, Hero has no convertible assets apart from his slippery slave. Maybe, figures Pseudolus, if he could engineer the young lovebirds' union, Hero would let him go Free. Free! A free man, free to write free verse, he muses. Pseudolus asks the procurer if they can see his stock. The charms of The House of Marcus Lycus are laid before slave and master, but Hero's heart's desire is, it seems, out of bounds. Philia is a virgin from Crete, pre-sold to the legendary warmonger Captain Miles Gloriosus, who has paid extra for virginity. Such a pity, tuts Pseudolus, about the highly contagious plague currently raging in Crete. Sportingly, he agrees to take her off Lycus' hands and thereby prevent her infecting the rest of the merchandise. So Philia and Hero meet at last. She cannot sew, cook, read or write; she has but one talent - being Lovely - but she's happy being lovely because it is a gift that she can give to Hero - if only she could remember his name. Already, though, Pseudolus is making plans: there's a boat anchored in the Tiber just made for two - what a Pretty Little Picture. But Philia says she has to wait for her new owner, the captain, and Pseudolus realises he will have to trick her onto the boat with a sleeping potion. Unfortunately, the recipe requires one ingredient he doesn't have: mare's sweat. In the slave's absence, Senex returns and is greeted with an ecstatic gasp of "Take me", Philia having confused the head of the household with her captain. In the nick of time, Pseudolus arrives ("Would you believe it? There was a mare sweating not two streets from here') and explains that Philia is the new maid. What a brilliant notion, Senex enthuses, Everybody Ought to Have a Maid. With Philia's new employer eager to