Tragedy Tomorrow, “Comedy Tonight” at Wick Theatre
By Skip Sheffield
Ken Jennings certainly earns his paycheck as the star of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” playing through Nov. 1 at the Wick Theatre, 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton.
Before the curtain even raises Jennings is out in the audience, shaking hands, greeting people and saying “Welcome to Rome.” It’s a nice personal touch from a tireless veteran Broadway performer who never takes a break during the two-hour (including intermission) show.
Make no mistake about it, “Forum” is “Comedy Tonight,” as it is declared in the opening number and reprised at the finale. This is a door and shutter-slamming 1962 farce by Burt Shrevelove and Larry Gelner, with clever tunes by Stephen Sondheim.
The story is supposedly inspired by the work of ancient Roman playwright Plautus (251-183 B.C.), but it more resembles old-fashioned American vaudeville. Ken Jennings plays the lead role of Pseudolus, a slave in the house of Senex (Michael Scott). Pseudolus yearns for his freedom, but randy Senex has problems of his own with his shrewish wife, the aptly-named Domina, played by Erika Amato in a Bride of Frankenstein wig. Also in the house are the excitable slave Hysterium (resident musical director Michael Usura) and a naïve son named Hero (Chris Brand). The house next door is a house of ill repute owned by Marcus Lycus (Dennis Settedlucati). The house is filled with alluring, scantily-clad women with intriguing names like Vibrata (Alexa Barray), Gymnasia (Samantha Leibowitz), Tintinabula (Amelia Millar), Panacea (Elizabeth Morgan) and the Geminae twins (Lauren Kay and Kelly Ziegler)
The main plot, such as it is, involves Hero and the equally naïve (and not too bright) Philia (Whitney Winfield), who evidently is the only virgin in town. Alas Philia has been bought sight unseen by the vainglorious soldier Miles Gloriosus (Jim Ballad). Many chases and cases of mistaken identity ensue. Through it all dodders Erronius (Troy Stanley), in search of his lost children captured by pirates and determined to walk the Seven Hills of Rome.
Trying to describe “Forum” is futile. Played out on a deliciously cartoonish set by Bruce Walters and directed lickety-split by Bob Walton, “Forum” is at the least good for some hearty laughs, and that is a good thing.
Tickets are $70-$80. Call 561- 995-2333 or go to www.thewick.org.