A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart

Based on the plays of Plautus (who still deserves a credit line...!)

Directed by Guy Saunders

August 25th - 29th, 2003

The Tower Theatre performing at the Minack Theatre, Porthcurno

Thanks to the Minack Theatre for the photographs on this page

Cast List

Pseudolus, slave to Hero : Daniel Watson
Senex, an old man : Brice Pitt
Domina, his wife : Alison Hopwood
Hero, their son, in love with Philia : Dominic Ward
Philia, a virgin : Julia Main
Hysterium, slave to Senex and Domina : Frank Crocker
Miles Gloriosus, a warrior : Bob Bradick
Lycus, a buyer and seller of courtesans : Colin Dent
Erronius, an old man : Henry Chester
The Proteans : Chris Peregrine, James Folan, Gateley Freeman

The Courtesans
Tintinabula : Helen Jeckells
Vibrata : Helen Kirrane
Gymnasia : Emily Powell
Panacea : Nathalie Lake

The Geminae : Margaret Ley, Pat Grosse
Eunuch : Alistair Brinkley
Roman Matrons : Claire Rice, Alison Liney

Joe Hatherill, Andrew Potts, Andrew Stewart (Reeds)
Matthew Grocutt (Trumpet)
Richard Hyams (Trombone)
Christine Clutton (Cello)
Stephen Lethbridge, Susana Castellot (Keyboards)
Gareth Covey-Crump (Bass Guitar)
Ian Whitehead (Percussion)
Clive Swan (Conductor)


Production Team

Director : Guy Saunders
Assistant Director : Pat Grosse
Musical Director : Clive Swan
Choreographer : Helen "Bells" Dudley
Set Design : Dorothy Wright
Costume Design : Noreen Spall, Kay Perversi
Lighting Design : Andy Peregrine
Sound Design : Stephen Ley, Phillip Ley

Stage Manager : Juliet Webster
ASMs : Alison Liney, Claire Rice, Andrew Craze
Lighting operator : Laurence Tuerk
Sound operators : Stephen Ley, Phillip Ley
Set construction : Dorothy Wright, Zizi Sulkin, Keith Syrett, Alan Wilkinson, Celia Reynolds, Andy Hind
Front of House Manager : David Holyoake
Publicity Design : Helen Dudley

Review by Frank Ruhrmund for The Cornishman

Musical in Fine Forum

Friends, Romans, countrymen, residents and visitors to Cornwall alike, lend me your ears, I come not to bury the London-based Tavistock Repertory Company's presentation of the Stephen Sondheim musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, but to praise it - to help Matthew Grocutt blow the trumpet in the company's band and herald the fact that the gods of comedy are smiling on this production. The show is sold out but, if you haven't been lucky enough to get a ticket and love laughing, then keep ringing the Minack's box office for returns.

First performed on Broadway on my birthday, in the early 1960s, a starring vehicle for Frankie Howard a year later in the West End, somewhat surprisingly, it has stood the test of time well for it is a rare musical - and Sondheim fans will not thank me for this - in which its book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, with a little help from Plautus, is stronger than its music.

Set in pre-Christian Rome, its plot revolves around the simple formula, a slave gets his freedom if his master gets the girl, while it may be one of the bawdiest of musicals it is also one of the funniest. Director Guy Saunders lives up to the promise of the show's superb opening number "Comedy Tonight" and provides "Something for everyone" and, indeed, employs just about every device in the business in his desire, and his effort, to divert.

Wisely, he restrains his cast of campers from pitching their tents regardless, and the show is all the better for it. Led from the front by Daniel Watson as Pseudolus, "Lovely is the the one thing I can do", a likeable freedom-loving slave who, thankfully, owes nothing to Frankie Howard, they are all in fine form, or forum. Frank Crocker as Hysterium, "A man born to grovel", steals every tent peg and scene there is : praise, too, for all the nobles in this raunchy Roman romp, the MG-powered Proteans and the dancing courtesans, not forgetting the Geminae - Niagara and Viagra - but I musn't give too much away.

A "Carry On" Plautine pantomime, from its several snappy one-liners to its running, or rather rambling, gag of the wandering Erronius, winningly played by Henry Chester, I enjoyed every witty and wacky second of it. Amidst the laughter, like Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, to borrow from the Bard, I could only gasp, a plague on all three of your houses, Erronius, Lycus and Senex, you've made worms' meat of me!