When you have a great cast, great music and a script filled with mistaken identities, chases, and love, you can’t go wrong. And the Beaumont Community Players production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” is all of that and more.
For those of you who don’t know, “Forum” is as far from classic Greek theatre as Beaumont is from the North Pole. It is filled with wacky characters and situations befitting the Three Stooges. The only thing missing is a good cream pie in the face! And I am sure that if director Bert Smith could have figured out where to add that pie, he would have! Needless to say, the full house on opening night laughed, cheered and snickered for a solid two hours. The production showcased the wonderful singing voices of Matthew Phillips (Hero) and Mary Purrington (Philia) as the young love interests. And the powerful voice of Dorian McCall as Captain Miles Gloriosus was perfectly matched for the ego of the character.
It is the antics of slaves Pseudolus (Garrett P. DeLaCerda) and Hysterium (Donny Avery) that kept the audience wondering what could possibly happen next. Although these two characters were so very similar in this production, the scripted jokes were always over the top and coming at the audience with great force and gusto. DeLaCerda is fine as Pseudolus. He works very hard onstage to make sure the audience is traveling with him on this crazed journey. I was totally worn out after watching this workout performance. And Avery as Hysterium really goes all out in Act Two. This is a performance that should be on everyone’s “must-see” list. No doubt about it — it is hysterical! I have to give a shout out to Don Smith (Erronius) who, as always, delivers a subtle and remarkable performance. Bravo! And applause to the courtesans, whose dancing was exquisite as choreographed by Lou Arrington, and the Proteans in those thankless roles of the chorus who play multiple characters. Good work! Bryan Campbell (Senex) is funny as the love-starved, hen-pecked husband who has a Ghost of Christmas Present look in Act Two that is very calming and peaceful in all of the chaos of this production.
But I have to confess I enjoyed watching Keith Cockrell (Marcus Lycus) and Victoria LeBlanc (Domina) and reminiscing about a production of this very same show that we three worked on many, many, many years ago in our college days. We took a few minutes after the performance to remember that production and we three had to laugh at our youthful accomplishments and the great folks who we worked with then. It was great to see Keith and Victoria making new memories in this production. As always, they both presented stellar performances with wonderful character development. Kudos to you both!
Technically, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the work of Jerry McMillan on the brightly colored scenery. I don’t know if McMillan designed the set but as technical director I do know he had a hand in the construction with his crew. It is creative and fun to look at and brings such joy to the show. And Gladys Thomas and her crew did a wonderful job with costumes on the whole. With a few exceptions, the costumes were very character-oriented and functional. These volunteers are the backstage heroes who make theater happen for the audience. They work long hours and create that illusion of magic in the theater, and with no curtain calls. So let it be said to all of you volunteers who wear a lot of black, thank you for a magical evening and keep up the good work!
Admittedly it was opening night and those jitters kept sneaking into some of the performances. There was some dropped dialogue, some unnecessary ad-libbing and lots of squealing microphones Friday, Sept. 7. This performance was a bit slow and self-indulgent at times, but there is such talent at BCP, I feel confident in saying that these little problematic moments will be solved immediately.
So if you are looking for a fun evening of live entertainment for young (I would suggest 16 up) and mature (we all know what that means!), call BCP now or go online to www.beaumontcommunityplayers.com  for reservations for the upcoming weekends. There are performances Sept. 14-15 and 20-22. I am headed to Port Arthur next weekend and am very anxious to share my thoughts and reactions with you on “And Then There Were None” next week. Until then I hope to see you at the theater!