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Sondheim Musical Ends Hilltop Players Season on Funny Note

The modern musical classic, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” will end the theater season at West Liberty University in Roman style this spring at Kelly Theatre.

Curtain is at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, April 10-13 and 3 p.m., Sunday, April 14 and the production is a collaborative effort between the divisions of music and theater.

From left, Meaghan Macey, Gregory Gust and Kristy Kalaney rehearse their roles.

From left, Meaghan Macey, Gregory Gust and Kristy Kalaney rehearse their roles.

Directed by Adjunct Professor of Theatre John Hennen, the musical is full of fun. The plot revolves around a wily slave named Pseudolus who must unite a virgin courtesan named Philia and his young smitten master called Hero to earn his freedom.

“I remember when the musical first opened, Life magazine ran a photo essay on the show captioned, ‘The belly laugh is back.’ A major part of the show’s message is that it has always been here. Authors Shevelove and Gelbart were inspired to create the musical in their college years after studying the plays of Plautus. His work, set as it is in his contemporary 2nd century B.C. Rome, contains all the elements of traditional American musicals — ­­­clever plots, situation comedy, stereotypical characters, songs and dance, and above all, a chance for display of comic actors’ skills. Nobody in Forum actually goes to the forum; the intention of the authors was to draw attention to the parallel between the traditional comedy of Abbott and Costello, Milton Berle (who was originally set to star in the show), Phil Silvers (who eventually did on stage and screen), Jack Benny and their like, and that of their Roman forbearers,” said Hennen.

The first major musical success composed by Stephen Sondheim; the show remains his longest-running Broadway musical. Originally produced on Broadway by Harold S. Prince, it’s described as a laugh-fest with a plot that twists and turns through cases of mistaken identity, slamming doors, and a showgirl or two.

WLU cast members include the following musical and theater students:

  • Pseudelus, Alan Cline, Wellsburg, W.Va.
  • Hero, Jaccob Trifonoff, Steubenville, Ohio
  • Philia, Carrie George, Adena, Ohio
  • Senex, Clayton Dunn, Fairmont, W.Va.
  • Domina, Cassandra Hackbart, Masontown, W.Va.
  • Miles Gloriosus, Matthias Dotson, Middlebourne, W.Va.
  • Marcus Lycus, Nathan Dunn, Moundsville, W.Va.
  • Erronius, Derek Park, Wheeling, W.Va.
  • Hysterium, Gregory Gust, Lima, W.Va.
  • Proteans, Jeremiah Propst, Franklin, W.Va., David Dudzik, Wheeling, W.Va., Adam Rankin, Carmichaels, Pa.
  • Courtesans, Maura Reiff, Martinsburg, W.Va., Kacie Craig, Weirton, W.Va., Adrienne Castellucci, Malvern, Ohio, Meaghan Macey, Bunker Hill, W.Va., Kimberly Wolfe, Wheeling, W.Va., Kirstie Kalany, Wheeling, W.Va.

Stage manager for the production is Samantha T. Alkire, Colliers, W.Va., and assistant stage managers are Miranda Pellicano, Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and Alan Olson, Cincinnati, Ohio. Technical Director for the production is WLU faculty director Meta Lasch.

To make a reservations, please call 304-336-8277. To purchase tickets online, visit brownpapertickets.com.