A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum: HMT Melb 2012-2013: Long Overdue REVIEW

Hysterically Hilarious!

(picture courtesy of: http://www.thechronicle.com.au/things-to-do/a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-the/52033/)

It has officially been a month (and one day) since the final performance of the twelve week running of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne.  From the brilliant scores and lyrics by musical theatre veteran Stephen Sondheim and starring an all-star Australian cast, Funny Thing was definitely, in my opinion, one of the highlights for Melbourne theatre in 2012. 

With the amazing acting master Geoffrey Rush (winner of Academy Award, Tony Award, Golden Globes and Emmy Award) along with an all-star cast including Hugh Sheridan, Christie Whelan-Brown, Mitchell Butel, Adam Murphy, Shane Bourne and Magda Szubanski; this comedy musical was executed perfectly (apart from the little mishaps of some of the cast who were unable to contain their own laughter).  The production was, as promised right from the beginning; a comedy, and was hilarious throughout.  It had everything, general humour, mistaken identity, funny and confusing chase scenes, satire, puns among many other comedic traits.  The songs were cheery, catchy and most of all, very cheeky.  I can safely say from personal experience that I got very tired from laughing by intermission and completely exhausted from laughing by the end of the show.  The whole production was able to bring happiness and entertainment to the audience and tickled audiences’ funny bone each matinee/night performance.

Although the whole cast was wonderful, there were a few who stood out from the rest.

First and foremost, I would like to say that the three Proteans (Rohan Browne, Brent Hill, Troy Sussman) were INCREDIBLE! They played the most characters and had the most costume changes yet they were able to swiftly do so and were able to switch characters with a click of a finger.  Even though there were only three of them, it felt as though there were thirty of them! WELL DONE. 

Of course, Geoffrey Rush as the freedom yearning, rule rebel Pseudolus was outstanding and marvelous.  We all know Geoffrey Rush is a brilliant actor but seeing him on stage is very different to in films.  One of the highlights for me personally was the various (sometimes small and subtle) improvisations that he brings to the production.  Some may have missed his improvs, or didn’t notice them; especially if they’ve only been to the show once, but having personally seen the show four times, it was easy to spot his improvs and I loved every bit of them. 

Mitchell Butel as the groveling, overstressed head slave Hysterium was…well, how should I put it…hysterically hilarious! Not to mention his singing was amazing as well! His performance was remarkable and definitely one of the most memorable characters for me. Mitchell Butel is truly a theatre gem.

I’m sure all Melbournians are very proud of our Melbourne-based Christie Whelan-Browne. Her role as virgin courtesan Philia was an absolute delight.  She brought a wonderful sense of sweetness to the stage.  Her acting was exceptional and her voice was angelic as well as pitch perfect. I can’t wait to see what she has in stored for us next!

Hugh Sheridan as the love-struck Hero was a nice surprise.  Before Funny Thing, I didn’t know much about Hugh except for his tv host role for TEN’s I Will Survive (please don’t hate me for this Packed to the Rafters fans, but I don’t watch the SEVEN’s tv series and so I only know Hugh from IWS, sorry).  I remember in the 1st episode of IWS, Hugh was introduced as a “triple threat: singer, dancer, actor” and after watching his performance, I can confirm that he is indeed a triple threat.  His acting was brilliant and his vocals were spectacular. I hope he does a lot more musical theatre work in the future because he’s an absolute joy to watch.

Funny Thing was a lot of fun to watch and definitely very entertaining.  I’m glad I chose it as my first ever theatre experience and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to watch it four times. I do hope it returns to Her Majesty’s Theatre some day in the near future.

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