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"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" Opens Its Run Today

FAIRMONT —  The West Virginia Public Theatre kicks off its presentation today of the production titled “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”

Multiple showings of the play are scheduled to take place at the Metropolitan Theatre in downtown Morgantown. These showings will kick off the theatre’s 32nd summer season.

Residents can chose from showings from 7:30-9:30 p.m. today, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 10. Matinees are also available from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Saturday, July 9. Finally. a showing is available from 1-3 p.m. Wednesday.

Lee Blair, a director of the play, believes residents should attend this comedic presentation.

“‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’ is a musical comedy farse,” Blair said. “Basically it is a story of a Roman slave by the name of Pseudolus and he is a slave to a young master by the name of Hero. As Hero sees a young woman at the house next to his, he falls in love with her at first sight.”

Pseudolus concocts a plan to get her for Hero as his wife.

“So that’s basically the premise of the show,” Blair said. “(It) is kind of the mistaken identities and plot twists of Pseudolus trying to gain his freedom because that is what he will get if he gets Hero the girl. He will be a Roman citizen instead of a Roman slave.”

Actor in the production Matthew Henerson believes “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” is one of the best and funniest musicals ever written.

“Any day you are going to rehearse ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’ it a good day at work,” Henerson said. “The music is delightful. The book is really, really funny. If you have a terrific cast, which we have, and a wonderful director, which we have, it is just like going to play every day. What could possibly be bad?”

Henerson’s path to become an actor stemmed from his fathers career.

“My father was a television writer, (and he) wrote for shows like ‘I Dream of Jeannie,’ ‘Bewitched’ and ‘Lassie’ back in the 1960s before I was born,” Henerson said. “Then he wrote a lot of television movies and mini-series, so I grew up around the motion-picture business.”

When he began acting, Henerson found out that he really enjoyed it.

“I kept doing it in college never really thinking ‘oh yes I must set out to be an actor,’ but by the time I was done with college that’s pretty much what I was,” he said.

Blair said that he has both acted and directed this production before.

“I acted in this production years ago, and then I directed it for another company a few years ago, so I really love the show,” he said. “It is a broad, silly farse with some really great music.”

The show was written in the early 1960s by Steven Sondheim along with two writers, Burt Shevelove and Larry Delbart, Blair said.

“The show is structured in Roman comedy,” he said. “The opening number is called ‘Comedy Tonight,’ and in the opening number the cast comes out and says, ‘We are not going to present a tragedy. A tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight.’ Greek theater is pretty much about tragedy ... but Roman theater was more comedic.”

For more information on the West Virginia Public Theatre and for tickets visit wvpublichteatre.org.

By Keslie VanderWijst

Read the full article on the Times West Virginian website here.

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