Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Burt Shevelove
based on the comedies of Plautus
June 1-24, 2023


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“Know what they found on the way to the forum? Burlesque, vaudeville and a cornucopia of mad, comic hokum. . . Director George Abbott has used mixed identities, swinging doors, kicks in the posterior, double takes and all the rest of the familiar paraphernalia with the merciless disingenuousness of a man who knows you will be defenseless. . . Say all the unkind and truthful things you like about A Funny Thing. It’s noisy, coarse, blue and obvious like the putty nose on a burlesque comedian. Resist these slickly paced old comic routines, if you can. Try and keep a straight face.” – Howard Taubman, The New York Times

You think we're confused by sex, gender, and love today?

Get a load of the Romans!

Master songwriter Stephen Sondheim and comic playwright and screenwriter Burt Shevelove took the classical Roman comedies of Plautus, mashed them together with American vaudeville, and came up with one of the great musical farces of all time, every bit as smart and subversive as Sondheim’s later shows. In 1962, this show satirized America’s hang-ups about sex; today, the show asks lots of complicated questions we’ve all been asking lately, about sex, gender, and more.

Sondheim was an honorary member of the New Line board for almost thirty years, and he was a regular New Line donor before his recent death. New Line has produced seven other Sondheim shows over the years.

The music critic for The New York Times, Anthony Tommasini, wrote about the show, “For all the talk of Forum harking back to the days of good, clean farce, theatrically it is an experimental work. It completely subverts the heritage of what is called the book show, handed down by Rodgers and Hammerstein, where the songs emerge from the plot. In Forum, the songs purposely interrupt the farcical plot, giving the audience a needed break from the madcap hysterics.” The show was nominated for eight Tony Awards and won six, including Best Musical, Best Producer, Best Book, and Best Director. There have been multiple Broadway revivals, in 1972 with Phil Silvers, and 1996 with Nathan Lane, and later in the run, Whoopi Goldberg. All three actors who have opened in the role of Pseudolus on Broadway have won Best Actor Tony Awards. On top of that, Jason Alexander played the role in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, and he also won a Tony for Best Actor in a Musical.

The New Line cast will include Kent Coffel (Pseudolus), Chris Moore (Hysterium), Clayton Humburg (Hero), Sarah Wilkinson (Phyllia), Robert Doyle (Senex), Carmen Garcia (Domina), Jason Blackburn (Marcus Lycus), Michael Lowe (Miles Gloriosus), and Colin Dowd, Brittany Hester, and Ian McCreary as the Proteans.

The New Line production will be directed by Scott Miller and Chris Kernan, with choreography by Kernan, music direction by Ryan Hinman, costume design by Sarah Porter, scenic design by Rob Lippert, lighting design by Matt Stuckel, and sound design by Ryan Day.

Produced by arrangement with Music Theatre International, New York.

Want to explore more?
We recommend:

The 1962 Original Broadway cast recording, the published script, the piano-vocal selections, and the full piano score

Director Scott Miller's blog, "The Bad Boy of Musical Theatre" about New Line's creative process.

Two of Plautus' plays that Forum is based on, Pseudolus and Miles Gloriosus.

The book Sondheim used as a reference while he wrote the show, Daily Life in Ancient Rome: The People and the City at the Height of the Empire, by Jérôme Carcopino

The HBO series Rome, and the Netflix series Roman Empire

The excellent book Roman Laughter: The Comedy of Plautus by Erich Segal

And check out the Stephen Sondheim Reference Guide online for more info about Sondheim, Forum, and his other shows.


A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM runs June 1-24, 2023, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, all at 8:00 p.m., at the Marcelle Theater, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive, three blocks east of Grand, in the Grand Center Arts District. June 1 is a preview.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for students/seniors on Thursdays; and $30 for adults and $25 for students/seniors on Fridays and Saturdays. To charge tickets by phone, call MetroTix at 314-534-1111 or visit the Fox Theatre box office or the MetroTix website.

DISCOUNTS: HIGH SCHOOL DISCOUNT: Any high school student with a valid school ID can get a $10 ticket for any performance, with the code word, posted only on New Line's Facebook page. COLLEGE FREE SEATS: Ten free seats for every performance, open to any college student with a valid student ID. EDUCATORS DISCOUNT: New Line offers all currently employed educators half price tickets on any Thursday night, with work ID or other proof of employment. MILITARY DISCOUNT: New Line offers all active duty military personnel half price tickets on any Thursday night, with ID or other proof of active duty status.

All offers not valid in connection with other discounts or offers, available only at the door, and subject to availability. All programs subject to change. New Line Theatre receives funding from the Regional Arts Commission and the Missouri Arts Council.