CMTS Revives a Broadway Classic

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Bwog’s Lily Icangelo stopped in for a Columbia Musical Theater Society performance of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

It’s the end of Columbia’s week from hell—how are you celebrating? Before you set up camp in Butler and become a slave to a paper on some obscure post-modern art movement (or something else that will never help you in the “real world”), I suggest taking time to support Columbia theater. Columbia Musical Theater Society’s presentation of Stephen Sondheim’s “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” proves to be an entertaining two hours of music, dance, and laughter—a perfect escape from the stress of finals.

Taking on “Forum” was a bit of a lofty goal for CMTS; not only is the show 48 years old, but the original was on Broadway and in 1963 won a Tony for Best Musical. But a talented group of actors, creative team, and production team, did their best to successfully revive the show for the Columbia audience.

Forum tells the tale of an eccentric slave named Pseudolus (played by the incredibly talented Chris Silverberg) who attempts to win his freedom by setting up his young master with the courtesan next door. Hilarity ensues as the plan runs into many unsuspected, and often silly, challenges including a large amount of mistaken identity and an even larger amount of falling to the floor. Silverberg was the perfect choice for the lead role as his presence on stage is magnetic and his beautiful voice successfully took on each of the songs he sang. The role of Hero was also very well cast as the ever-adorable David Offit was incredibly convincing in the role of a young clueless boy in love.

This show employs many classic devices of comedy, including a great deal of physical comedy. The actors fight, they fall, they run into each other, they run into walls, and they dance in silly ways that adds to the comedy. Choreographer Sara Miller did a fantastic job choreographing each dance routine, making sure that the routines for this comedy were light and fun while still maintaining traditional elements and complexities of dance. Actors Miriam Pensack (Hysterium), Chris Silverberg (Pseudolus), and Sam Mickel (Marcus Lycus) showcased some incredible skills as physical comedians and were often the most fun to watch. Pensack was especially hilarious and at times, I would argue, even managed to steal the show. Her comedic timing was spot on, especially when her character (a male servant) dressed up as a fake dead girl.

One of the only qualms I had with the show was with the set. I understand that the set was supposed to look cartoon-like and silly as Forum truly is a cartoon-ish show, but it came across as a little more elementary than it did cartoon-like. Forum is such a big production that it seems as though the set could have matched up a little better with the grandeur of the rest of the show.

Overall however, CMTS’s presentation of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” was completely worth the five-dollar admission and the two hour “study break” in Roone. See it tonight at 8 pm in Roone Arledge Auditorium for its last performance!

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  1. yayyyy

    forum was so so good! miriam pensack & roland smith were especially extraordinary!!

  2. Bwog

    has gotten WAY too soft on their theater reviews. Forum was fine, but it in no way deserved this glowing piece of praise. To say the set was the worst thing about the show is just plain wrong. I'm glad you're promoting the theater community and the hard work of the students, but when nearly every review posted on Bwog is overwhelmingly (and often undeservingly) positive, they become silly and unnecessary.

    • Carolyn  (Bwog Staff)

      Sounds like you've got strong opinions, Mr. Underwhelmed. Come join our team: [email protected]

    • Anonymous

      Honestly, I agree. The trouble is that no one in the theater community wants to review because, well, you're stuck either reviewing your friends or potentially making enemies of people you want to work with in the future. So bwog has a small pool of people who presumably know about theater, but aren't actively directing or acting (as far as I know). As a result, the quality of reviews suffers. I mean, it's nice to read a compliment, don't get me wrong, but you do want a rigorous appraisal of your work as well. I think the ideal thing would be to have a high school theater kid who actually stuck to his or her idea of not performing (unlike the rest of us), who has nothing to lose by clearly showing the faults of a show, and nothing to gain through praise, and yet has thorough knowledge of the elements of a good show. I for one would like to hear further thoughts from Senor Underwhelmed.

      • or  

        a theatre major who is not particularly involved in co-curricular student theatre. there are definitely some majors who aren't really into the student theatre scene that could probably write some fair reviews.

      • Anonymous

        On the other hand, bwog should be commended for actually covering most/all theater productions this semester. This way the productions get some recognition and there is a public forum (haha) to discuss them.

  3. HERO

    David Offit is my HERO. He was fantastic, as always, and I cannot wait to see him more in future shows!

  4. Eh  

    David Offit could use some voice coaching. In general, this was not that vocally strong of a show, and Teddy Poll's little maestro-entrance was embarrassing.

    HOWEVER, the show was fucking hysterical. Chris Silverberg was absolutely incredible, as was Sam Mickel, and the waves during "Pretty Little Picture" were just hilarious.

  5. OK

    "Taking on “Forum” was a bit of a lofty goal for CMTS; not only is the show 48 years old, but the original was on Broadway"

    Seriously? CMTS challenged itself by putting on a show that was previously on opposed to all the other CMTS productions that came from where exactly? Get a theater reviewer who knows....anything about campus theater.

  6. Anonymous

    David was great as were all of the principle actors. Very very well cast...and stacked with Vshow alum and new members! (David, Tessa, Sam, Alia, Chris and Elizabeth)

  7. totally worth it  

    It was Fucking hilarious, I was getting really tired of college plays with some political angle and this was a nice breath of fresh air

  8. Anonymous  

    It was better than Urinetown, although that's not saying much.

  9. Anonymous

    Forum was so funny and well cast! Chris Silverberg was hysterical. Sam Mickel, Miriam Pensack, Emily Buttner, David Offit and the rest of the cast all did an incredible job!

  10. woohooo

    Go Tessa and David!

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