By Mackenzie Wallace
“Playgoers, I bid you welcome.”
Bradley Fertitta, playing lead character Pseudolus, breaks the fourth wall in the opening line to welcome the audience to the musical comedy A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum last Saturday evening. However, the surprising style of direct audience confrontation, along with character movement offstage and throughout the auditorium in certain scenes, were only a few of many factors that kept the crowd on their toes throughout the night.
The perfectly timed jokes and pranks woven into the script, comical songs with accompanying dances punctuating the plot, and a plethora of dramatic irony kept the audience laughing throughout the entirety of the production. Forum takes place in early Rome and tells the tale of a slave by the name of Pseudolus as he helps his young master, Hero, played by Johnny Tolentino, pursue the girl he loves in exchange for freedom. However, the difficult task is met with even more challenges as plan after plan falls flat and the characters are pushed further into a hilariously messy predicament.
Months of long rehearsals, set construction, line memorization, and practicing choreography all become worth it once the stage lights hit the actors and they set foot on the set, no longer as themselves, but as their characters. The time and work put into building a show of such proportions is no easy feat to be accomplished overnight by one person.
“The process starts by setting up auditions, where the students have to sing a short clip of a song they select, sort of like American Idol, so we know they can sing,” Cynthia McDonald, producer and director, said. “Then they come in and read the script and we later post the cast list. During the rehearsal process, they work with me to know stage placement and work with their vocal coaches, Cooksey and Murphy.”
She goes on to explain the different departments that additionally have contributed to the production of Forum.
“Art did the posters and band and orchestra are doing the music, with Mr. Flynn conducting in the pit, and choir and theater kids are in the actual show,” McDonald said.
As the curtains closed at the final show, the senior actors of Madison watch as a chapter of their lives come to a close as well. For many who have grown up in the fine arts department, their final performance sets a milestone for the end of their high school journey, yet marks the beginning of new things to come.
“It’s kind of bittersweet, being the last show, but I’m going on to bigger and better things,” Jordan Green, senior, stated after performing as Hysterium in the musical. “I’ve learned that hard work gets you places.”