By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
The production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” flew to the stage last weekend at The Gem Theatre in Garden Grove, and boy, are its arms tired.
The vaudeville-style farce takes place in ancient Rome with a winsome girl-next-brothel love cube. All goes on in and around an impressive multi-level set designed by Wally Huntoon.
This particular show is all about timing. A moment too soon or too late and the slapstick comedy would trip across its own feet into the wings.
And in this show, there is plenty of comedy to go around.
A newcomer to the Gem’s stage, Jara Jones, who plays the ever-obedient slave Hysterium, becomes a comedy scene stealer. He is the perfect quiet, frustrated counter to the loud and wild Pseudolus, played by Kyle Myers.
Jones’ mutterings, surprise and ability to fashionably drape himself in white make Hysterium hilarious.
Nicole Cassesso, who plays the playful Philia, also gets some wonderful moments to shine on stage. Cassesso gets to show off her vocal skills with range and strength.
Kyle Myers does a wonderful job as the witty slave Pseudolus. Myers runs rampant on the stage fixing, breaking, saving and dropping situations, puns and problems.
The show features sleep-walking courtesans, unfaithful husbands, love-droopy teens, mighty men and sly slaves run around the stage in a goofy tale of love, mistaken identity and eventually freedom.
The play debuted in 1962 on Broadway and was made into a successful film in 1966. Each production starred Zero Mostel as Pseudolus. That role helped establish Mostel’s appeal, which led to his casting in the lead in “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Vaudeville-style humor struts around the stage in shining armor. Literally. Ryan Coon, who plays Milo Gloriosus, is a force of arrogant gallantry, complete with a large turkey leg in hand to show for it.
Coon makes this big-minded, loud character even bigger and louder. And the big and loud is even more exemplified by the smaller movements and cues that he takes on.
It’s a good show to close the theater on for the holidays. It’s funny. It’s well- executed. And it’s very entertaining.
The show will run until Dec. 13. Tickets are $20. Showtime is at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Showtime is 3 p.m. on Sunday. The Gem Theatre is located at 12852 Main St. in Garden Grove.