Just the idea of Zero Mostel makes me laugh. Watching him in movies, I’m gripped by fear that the camera will leave his face … and I’ll miss something funny. The rotund comic genius starred in the original Broadway production of Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart’s “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” in 1962, and again in the 1966 film.
Reprise Theatre Company, Jason Alexander’s troupe devoted to staging classics of American musical theater, is presenting a new production of this nutty show at UCLA’s Freud Playhouse running from March 16 – 28.
“Forum” won the Tony award for best musical in 1962, playing 964 performances at New York’s Alvin (now Neil Simon) Theater — the longest Broadway run for a Stephen Sondheim-written show. The 32-year-old Sondheim came to “Forum” after writing lyrics for “West Side Story” and “Gypsy” (music by Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne respectively). With “Forum” Sondheim went three for three.
The show’s setting and the characters are vaguely Roman, but the outrageous stage comedy is really an homage to American burlesque — in togas. Filling the roles of Zero Mostel (Pseudolus) and Jack Gilford (Hysterium) are actors Lee Wilkof and Larry Raben.
I vastly enjoyed Reprise Theatre’s last production – Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel. Looking forward to this Roman holiday.