Category Archive for: ‘Greg & Suzanne Angeo’

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” by Stephen Sondheim, Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart at Spreckels Performing Arts Center, Rohnert Park CA

From left: Matthew Lindberg, Tim Setzer, Dene Harvey


Reviewed by Suzanne and Greg Angeo

Photos by Eric Chazankin

Hilarious and Entertaining “Forum” Sets New Standard for Local Theatre

The New Spreckels Theatre Company, housed in the 550-seat Codding Theater at the Spreckels Performing Arts Center, is funded by public/private partnerships to maintain excellence in programming. In addition to a full-size proscenium stage and orchestra pit, these folks have, at their disposal, state-of-the art sound and lighting systems, a 45-foot wide cyclorama and the new Paradyne projection system which allows for still images and animation to be incorporated into the action onstage. They put this impressive setting to good use in the dazzling comic spectacle “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”.

 “Forum” is a candy-colored musical comedy pleasure trip to ancient Rome, filled with catchy songs, lovable characters, delightful vaudeville shtick and madcap antics that are superbly done on every level. With music and lyrics by the acclaimed Stephen Sondheim, the show won several Tony Awards for its initial Broadway run in the early 1960s. Spreckels invites us to indulge in this generous and tasty dessert in a world that too often seems overloaded with organic sprouts and tofu. Their production of “Forum” is sure to satisfy even the deepest cravings of the funny bone.

From left, standing: Abbey Lee, Melissa Petty, Matthew Proschold, Michella Snider, Lauren Siler; Seated: Chelsea Smith, Sophia Grace Ferar

Director Gene Abravaya, with over forty years of television and theatre experience, is also Spreckels Theatre Company’s new Artistic and Managing Director. He’s tapped into a motherlode of talent for “Forum”, with not one weak performance in the bunch. The dancers are flawless, led by Choreographer Michella Snider who also plays Gymnasia, one of a troupe of merry courtesans. Everything from somersaults to fan-kicks are executed with energetic precision. The musical numbers are a joy to watch, and hear. The voices of the lead actors as well as the chorus give “Forum” a Broadway quality not often seen in North Bay musical productions. The casting is perfect, and just a few of the many excellent performances include Tim Setzer as the show’s endearingly silly lead character, Psuedolus the slave; Alan Kafton as his hapless sidekick Hysterium; Larry Williams as Lycus, a trader of female flesh; and Matthew Proschold as the pompously aggressive warrior captain Miles Gloriosus. The sweet young lovers, Hero and Philia, form the romantic heart of the story and are played with great charm by Matthew Lindberg and Dene Harvey.

Abravaya has plans to lead the way in Sonoma County theatre, with major shows like “Young Frankenstein”, “Peter Pan” and “Brigadoon” coming up for the 2013 season. He told us his goal is to offer touring Broadway shows a place to land, and within three years he hopes to establish Spreckels as the premier first-run theatrical venue in the county. If the quality delivered in “Forum” is any indication of things to come, he seems well-prepared to give other local theater companies a run for their money.

When: Now through February 17, 2013

7:30 p.m. Thursdays

 8:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

2:00 p.m. Sundays

Tickets: $20 to $26 (reserved seating)

Location: Codding Theater at Spreckels Performing Arts Center

5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park CA
Phone: 707-588-3400


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