A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
This Carnival, Scotch ’n’ Soda proudly celebrated its 70th anniversary with a performance of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. With shows running through all three days of Carnival, Scotch ’n’ Soda delivered power-packed performances and left audiences helpless with laughter. The show was held in the Rangos Ballroom in the University Center, where a makeshift stage had been constructed. The low stage, along with seating around its three sides, made the performance more personal and close-up, and much more enjoyable.
“I’m thrilled about Scotch ’n’ Soda turning 70 this year. We are one of the oldest student theater groups in the country, and are showing no signs of slowing down whatsoever,” said junior economics major Alex DiClaudio, president of Scotch ’n’ Soda. “The organization is energized and vibrant, and as we start to expand our presence on campus I think you will see a lot of really terrific productions next season and beyond.”
Another Scotch ’n’ Soda member, Stephen Chan, a first-year in business administration, also expressed his enthusiasm about coming so far.
“Seventieth birthday? That’s insane. After acting in two major Scotch ’n’ Soda productions, I can see how it’s lasted for so long in its success. I can only wait for the 80th, 90th, and 100th birthdays to come,” he said.
Scotch ’n’ Soda made the right choice when selecting a play to dazzle audiences on its 70th anniversary. Set in ancient Rome, the story follows Pseudolus (DiClaudio), a wily slave who will do anything to gain his freedom. As the play begins, Pseudolus discovers that his master Hero (first-year H&SS student Christopher Wheelahan) is in love with a concubine, Philia (sophomore biological sciences major Michelle Stewart), who lives in the house of Marcus Lycus (first-year art major Michael Royce), a procurer of women. Pseudolus strikes a deal with Hero, pledging that he will unite the pair if he is given his freedom when he succeeds. Unfortunately, Philia has already been sold to a Roman general, Miles Gloriosus (sophomore music major Scott Wasserman). In an attempt to prevent Philia from being taken away by the general, Pseudolus lies and says that Philia is infected with a terrible plague from Crete.
Fearing for his own safety, Lycus hands Philia over to Pseudolus, who in turn promises to care for her. In the meantime, Hero and Philia meet and are smitten with one another. Pseudolus makes many attempts to stall the general from arriving and taking Philia; Pseudolus ultimately convinces another slave, Hysterium (Chan), to pretend to be the dead Philia. After much confusion, which includes many great songs and dances, hilarious cat-and-mouse chases, and a tottering old man (Erronious, played by Dan Wetzel, a first-year chemical engineering major), Gloriosus discovers that Philia is actually his sister and they both are Erronious’ children. The story ends joyously, with happy families and lovers united at each end and loud shouts of “Comedy tonight!”
The play boasts brilliant acting, especially by the players of Pseudolus, Lycus, Gloriosus, Hysterium and Erronious. The actors portraying Lycus, Gloriosus and Erronious played more than just these parts; they acted in side roles of slaves, eunuchs, and Proteans, and reappeared comically in many guises.
Apart from the great acting, the singing was excellent as well. Even a few actors who were new to singing, like Chan, put in all their effort to make their voices remembered.
“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum was my first musical production. I have an entirely new respect for musical theater performers.... The endless work and tidy-ups of singing, acting, and dancing are so demanding and exhausting,” Chan said.
On the whole, the show was great success as an enjoyable musical that audience members could laugh their way through. Director Matt Joachim (a senior business administration major) and music director Matthew Aument (a sophomore music major) did a fantastic job in putting the show together. Scotch ’n’ Soda has definitely lived up to its 70 years with this performance, and the cast members also spoke true when they sang, “Something familiar, something peculiar, something for everybody: Comedy tonight!”