Cast chosen for Southeastern Opera Workshop's “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”

Tuesday, September 8, 2015
by: Tonya Lowentritt

     HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University’s Opera/Music Theatre Workshop will present the Broadway musical, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 24 and 25, at 7:30 p.m. at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in downtown Hammond.
     “Stephen Sondheim is a living Broadway legend; for the last 50 years his musicals have continually expanded the boundaries of what a Broadway musical can – and should – be,” said Charles Effler, director of the Opera/Music Theatre Workshop.
     Sondheim started his Broadway career as a lyricist for Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” and Jule Styne’s “Gypsy,” which was a star vehicle for the famed Broadway belter, Ethel Merman. “Forum” was the first show where he was both lyricist and composer.
     Described in “Time” magazine as “a good, clean, dirty show,” “Forum” premiered in 1962 with a script inspired by the farces of ancient Roman playwright Plautus.
     “While the plot of ‘Forum’ displays many classic elements of farce - puns, mistaken identities, and satirical comments on social class, it also has a healthy dose of vaudeville and a smattering of burlesque thrown in for good measure,” Effler said. “The original Broadway production won five Tony awards, including Best Musical.”
     Opera Workshop welcomes back guest stage director Alton Geno for this production. In addition to a long career as a performer, choreographer, and director in New Orleans and around the country, Geno directed Opera Workshop’s sold out-performances of “Sweeney Todd” last fall, as well as productions of “The Light in the Piazza,” “South Pacific,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Music Man.”
     The cast includes Benjamin Vollentine (Covington) as Pseudolus, Nicholas Smith (Ponchatoula) as Hysterium, Terelle Bibbins (Slidell) as Hero, Randi Gaspard (Covington) as Philia, Brennan Simmons (Walker) as Senex, Rachel Denton (Jena) as Domina, Rob Roy (Lacombe) as Miles Gloriosus, and Ned Kelsey (Abita Springs) as Erronius. As the Proteans: Matt Jays (Kenner), Cody Sires (Chalmette), Wesley Newton (Bourg) and Dustin Forsberg (Hammond) playing Marcus Lycus.   As the Courtesans:  Faith Entrekin (Luling) and Lauren Gibson (Walker) as the Geminae Twins, Morgan Curole (Larose) as Tintinabula, Cheyenne Moore (Slidell) as Vibrato, and Katy Prostman (Fraser, CO), as Panacea. Recent music student graduate Allison Joiner (Ponchatoula) will appear as Gymnasia.
     Effler will serve as musical director and conductor, Department of Fine and Performing Arts (FPA) faculty member Mignon Charvet will design the costumes, and FPA staff member Amanda Klipsch will design the lighting. New Orleans based designer Dave Raphel will design the sets. Southeastern alumna Jane Rownd will serve as stage manager.
     Advance tickets are available at the Columbia Theatre box office Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will also be available one hour prior to each performance. Ticket prices are $21 for adults; $16 for seniors, Southeastern faculty/staff and non-Southeastern students. Southeastern students are admitted free of charge with their ID.
     For more information about the Opera/Music Theatre Workshop contact Effler at
     “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, originally produced on Broadway by Harold S. Prince, is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI) and all authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI, 421 West 54th Street, New York, NY, 10019,



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