Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened...

Proteans Justin Wilcox, Matthew Patrick Davis and Russ Marchand
with Lee Wilcoff. 
Photo by Reprise Theatre

One of the things I love about live theatre is that it is truly a one-of-a-kind “live” experience. You can have the same actors in the same roles speaking the same lines, night after night, and you are still guaranteed that no one performance will ever duplicate any other performance. Ever. That’s the beauty of being “live.” 

When you’re an audience member, you sign on to willingly venture into the world the director, actors, musicians and designers have created. Much of the fun comes from giving yourself over to the unexpected events that take place during such a “live” experience.

Case in point is the preview of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum I saw last night by Reprise Theatre Company. Never having seen a live performance of the show before, I was excited to see what they would do with this classic 1960s musical comedy favorite.Remember that “live” element I mentioned earlier? Well, following producing director Susan Dietz’s audience welcome, director David Lee took the stage. In his remarks he commented on the words “A Funny Thing” projected onto a curtain next to him. It’s a funny thing, he said. Our leading lady was informed by the doctor today that she would not be able to utter a word or sing a note for 24 hours. You could hear a small gasp go through the crowd.

Immediately I wondered who would cover the role. It takes a great deal of bravery, talent and good nature to jump into this kind of situation, especially on just a few hours notice. Called in literally at the last minute, with one run-through at 5:00 pm, was Misty Cotton. Misty is a southern California favorite, soon to be opening in The Marvelous Wonderettes at Musical Theatre West in Long Beach, who has appeared on Broadway in Miss Saigon and won numerous awards for her performances around the country.

Misty sat off stage right with a script on mic, and was the voice of actress Annie Abrams. Annie moved. Misty spoke and sang - a brilliant solution that had me, as an audience member, completely invested in the duo’s success.

As for the rest of the Forum cast…they couldn’t be better…from the fast talking wheeler dealer Pseudolus (Lee Wilkoff) to the nervously endearing Hysterium (Larry Raben) to the slippery wit of Michael Kostroff’s Marcus Lycus, each will have you rolling in the aisles.

Ron Ohrbach’s wonderfully comical Senex and Ruth Williamson’s deliciously domineering Domina provided some of the best laughs of the night in a show filled with mistaken identities, fabulous sight gags, glorious vocals, and strikingly unique courtesans. You’ll have to see it for yourself for specifics. No spoilers here.

Yes, this is definitely “A Comedy Tonight!” Don’t miss the short run. Opening night is tonight at the Freud Playhouse at UCLA and Forum will run only through March 28th. Tickets are available at

See a live show - tonight. You never know what might happen!


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