Driftwood Players

"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" July 1985

Book By Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Directed by Hilary Richrod, Music Direction by Hank Bilderback

The Players: Doug Sipe, Tobi Anderson (Ingram), Mike Nelson, Kurt Swaney, Hank Bilderback, Mike Dugan, Ken McDonald, Alan Richrod, Veronica Brakus
The Courtesans: Amy Warren, Stella Meritt, Tina Kruft, Andrea Link, Karen Fraser, Ruth Hensley
The Proteans: Kelly Grubbs, Joey Kruft, Jay Simons
The Statue: Carol Merritt
The Enuchs: Brian Bilderback, Josh Stuart
Noble Roman Citizens: Sheryl Murray, Terri Nelson, Gloria Bilderback, Karen Boss, Nikki Wirta
Noble Roman Children: Chenise Barbour, Karen Bilderback, Olivia Dugan, Jake Nelson, Jenell Nelson
Noble Roman Orchestra: Carol Swift, John Scholl, Kathryn Bailey, Kristine Bilderback, Cyndi Shinn, Ronda Steinman, Bruce Durrant, R. Ken Ward, Cathie Ryan, Steve Steinman

Photos by:
George McCleary

From The Daily World Monday, July 8, 1985

'Funny Thing' keeps 'em in stitches

By Betty Butler
World arts editor

    "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" Friday and Saturday nights. It was so funny the audience in the Driftwood Playhouse had a hard time getting out of their seats to go home. Their bodies ached from all that laughing.

    From the opening "remarks" by Hank Bilderback, cast in the leading role of Pseudolus, and a lively rendition of "A Comedy Tonight," it was obvious that the audience was not going to see Julius Caesar in the 200-B.C. Roman street where the action takes place.

    There IS a Roman senator, aged Senex, played for a full quota of laughs by Doug Sipe. He and his shrewish wife Domina, beautifully done by Tobi Anderson; their son Hero, and their slaves, quick-witted Psuedolus scheming to get his freedom, and hand-wringing Hysterium (Kurt Swaney) who, in his own words, "lives to grovel." 

    Living on one side of the Senex mansion are unscrupulous, cowardly Lycus, well-played by Alan Richrod, and his "stable" of beauteous ladies of pleasure. On the other side is the house of Erroneus, an old man (Mike Dugan) who has wandered near-sightedly through the world for 20 years seeking his son and daughter, kidnapped in infancy.

    The love interest develops when Hero spies from his window the lovely, wide-eyed Filia, Lycus' latest acquisition from Crete. Regrettably, her price is inflated because she is that desirable rarity, a virgin.

    The lovers are engagingly played by Mike Nelson and Veronica Brakus, and it's an added bonus that they both have pure, sweet singing voices.

    Hero promises Pseudolus his freedom if the wily slave can somehow procure Filia for him. But she already has been sold to a Roman general.

    Enter, with a flourish of trumpets, Ken McDonald masterfully portraying Miles Gloriosus, whose armored magnificence is exceeded only by his own opinion of it.

    This leads to complications which have Pseudolus masquerading as Lycus, Hysterium masquerading as Filia, potions for passion and coma being mixed, Domina in disguise, Senex in the bath....well, you get the picture.

    Confirmed theater-goers expect a fine performance from Bilderback, and they get it in this charming farce. The surprise is Swaney, who hasn't been seen on stage since his childhood. His own instinct for comedy and the direction of Hilary Richrod and Bilderback make Hysterium hysterically funny, a standout in Driftwood comedy.

    This is Richrod's first try at directing for Driftwood, and it comes off very well. Bilderback is musical director.

    The supporting cast is huge, led off by Lycus' six "girls," stately Junoesque Gymnasia (Ruth Hensley); cat-like Vibrata (Karen Fraser); the Geminae, Tina Kruft and Andrea Link, and exotic dancers Amy Warren and Stella Merritt.

    We can't forget Carol Merritt, who plays an occasionally animated statue of whatever Roman god seems appropriate to the occasion. Or the Proteans: Kelly Grubbs (the tall one), Joey Kruft (the middle one), and Jay Simons (the short one).

    Brian Bilderback and Josh Stuart play eunuchs in the house of pleasure; cast as Noble Roman Citizens and Various Foreigners are Sheryl Murray, Terri Nelson, Gloria Bilderback, Karen Boss and Nikki Wirta, and Chenise Barbour, Karen Bilderback, Olivia Dugan, Jake Nelson and Jenell Nelson are Noble Roman Children.

    The Noble Roman Orchestra which provides the all-important musical backdrop is composed of Carol Swift, Steve and Ronda Steinman, John Scholl, Kathryn Bailey, Kristine Bilderback, Cyndi Shinn, Bruce Durrant, R. Ken Ward and Cathie Ryan.

    Rochelle Landstrom headed the production staff and Raecheal Sturdivant was prop mistress.

    The Musical play will show every Friday and Saturday night through July. Tickets are available at City Drug in Aberdeen, Harbor Drug in Hoquiam and Sagen Drug in Montesano.

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