A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Opening Night

Comedy tomorrow! Power outage tonight! Such is the nature of live theatre but even an area wide power outage that stole the light from the Theatre Arts Building of the Montgomery College Summer Dinner Theatre could not stop the determined cast of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Opening night was tragically cut short when a surprise power outage rendered the campus and some 800 residents in the surrounding area without power for no readily discernible reason. The house was packed, the audience eager, and the lights were suddenly gone.

Managing Director Steven Wolf took to the stage with calm certainty and apologized for the inconvenience of the outage, explaining that it would be an indeterminate length of time before power was to be restored and that unfortunately the show would be canceled but refund and ticket exchange options would be available to anyone in the audience. Wolf opened the floor up to questions, which did result in the usual “how do I get my refund?” and “how do I reschedule?” questions. But the question from an audience member at the back of the house had the entire audience cheering her on. “Can we at least get one song?”

Within minutes the audience was crying and cheering for the cast to perform a number from the show they had worked so hard to see. Just moments later a rehearsal piano was wheeled into the room and situated at the foot of the stage where the show’s Director, Walter Ware III, took to the keys and gave the cast the music for the show’s opening number “Comedy Tonight.”

In full costumes— Designed with brilliant notions of color and fanfare by Costume Designer Peter Zakutansky— the cast of the show took to the stage in the dark arena that was lit by a lone emergency generator light in the middle of the room. Led by Pseudolus (Gregory Atkin) the young and talented cast of Forum gave a tried and true delivery of theatre’s oldest motto— “The show must go on!”

It was only one number, but that one number was enough to have the audience on its feet whooping and hollering and shouting for an encore. Gregory Atkin, who plays the narrative main character of Pseudolus, was engaging with the audience and even cracking wise about the power outage throughout the number. Just a few bars and lines and it is more than evident that he is perfectly suited for the role. In the brief opening clip the Proteans (Francisco Borja, Solomon Parker III, and David Singleton) were hamming up their skits and dance routines and stealing the spotlight (or what could be seen in the darkness.)

Gregory Atkin as Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Gregory Atkin as Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

The cast was in full voice, really projecting to make up for the lack of microphones due to the lack of power. They even carried through a modified version (for safety— these people were dancing in near-darkness) of the opening number’s choreography (which even pared down showcases the brilliance of the show’s Choreographer Jesse Palmer.) Resulting in a full shuffling kick-line, the number concluded in a sensational fashion and left the audience demanding more.

While the power outage prevented the full show and all its talented glory from being experienced, the teaser of the opening number was stellar. If just one number in full costume with no lights and pared-back choreography is this impressive, just imagine what the full show has in store when they open officially on Saturday evening June 20, 2015.

Those in attendance at the June 19, 2015 performance do have the option of exchanging or refunding their tickets and may do so by contacting the box office at (240) 567-7676— it is recommended to so as soon as possible as many of the remaining dates have limited seating!

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum plays through June 28, 2015 at the Montgomery College Summer Dinner Theatre in the Theatre Arts Building of the Rockville Campus of Montgomery College— 51 Mannakee Street in Rockville, MD. For tickets call the box office at (240) 567-7676 or purchase them online

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