REVIEW: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company presents it’s first ever musical, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM.  Due to another commitment and the unexpectedly lengthy (read 90+ minute) first act, I was unable to stay for Act Two.  Here are some thoughts about what I did see:

  • While certainly not his most musically complex piece (and far from his most profound work), any Sondheim musical is still not easy to pull off vocally.  Musical theatre veterans in the cast, though, like Kelcey Steele and Gabe Wrobel (it’s weird to call these kids “veterans”) sang it well. And Erin McCamley’s orchestra sounded great, too.
  • Technically, the show is well above average.  The set (by Shannon Robert) is quite fun to look at.  So are the costumes by Brian Horton and under the lights of Adam Zeek, it all looks very good. And sound designer Doug Borntrager makes it all sound great, too.
  • I’m not sure this story holds up well in 2018 – slavery and sex trafficking aren’t inherently funny anymore, right?  I don’t know, maybe I’m getting too sensitive in my old age.
  • Vince DeGeorge, the choreographer, smartly gives the “movers” in the cast dance elements that are within their competence and utilized the ensemble for the more complicated steps.
  • Does anyone else find it more than a little crazy that Leslie Goddard Baum, the only cast member in the show with actual Broadway credits, is just now back on stage in Cincinnati?  (By the way, she’s also directing TOMMY, which will open down the street at Memorial Hall next weekend.)
  • You can be funny while keeping a brisk pace.  I promise.
  • One has to admire the continued ambition of a theatre company, that in its 25th anniversary, continues to find ways to improve, push the envelope, and do utilize such a beautiful space.  I admire the intentional fortitude of the powers-that-be.

Here’s the bottom line: if you’re a fan of the zany comedy that Cincy Shakes often produces, then you will likely laugh a lot.  If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll be impressed with the professional quality of the technical elements.  Tickets are selling so well they’ve already added performances.

Just go to the bathroom before Act One begins. You’ll thank me later.

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM runs through September 29th the Otto M. Budig Theatre at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company in Over-the-Rhine in downtown Cincinnati. Click here for more information.