Arts and Entertainment

Renton Civic closes season with 'A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum,' opening Friday

Director VJ Orduna, left, works with members of the cast of
Director VJ Orduna, left, works with members of the cast of 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,' Opening Friday at Renton Civic Theatre.
— image credit: Brian Beckley, Renton Reporter

Renton Civic Theatre will present “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” as its audience pick to close the 2013 season.

The musical opens tomorrow, Friday, with an 8 p.m. performance of the Broadway classic, with music by Stephen Sondheim. Performances run through June 29.

V.J. Orduña is directing the production, which he calls “almost Mel Brooks-like in how the show comes across.”

“Forum” is set in ancient Rome and portrays the predicament of Pseudolus, a slave trying to win his freedom from his young master, Hero. The son of a senator, Hero is in love with a courtesan named Philia. To win his freedom, Pseudolus makes a deal with Hero to orchestrate Hero’s arrangement with Philia, whom Hero can’t afford. The courtesan has been previously sold to a captain, who is on his way to claim her.

“Lots of wackiness ensues,” said Orduña. “There are chases and mistaken identity, love potions and sleeping potions. All kinds of craziness.”

Many may not know the musical but are probably familiar with the songs, the director said.

People should recognize Sondheim’s “Love I Hear” and “Comedy Tonight.”

There are no deviations from the original script, but, Orduña said, there is some non-traditional casting choices that will surprise the audience.

He doesn’t give away any hints, saying he wants the audience to come and see for themselves.

All 17 actors in the show sing and the choreography by Elizabeth Richmond is “amazing,” Orduña said.

His co-director, Colin Madison, was “gifted” and integral to the production for Madison’s extensive background in clowning and juggling, the physical slap-stick stunts. The show is also supposed to be very athletic, with gymnastics on stage.

“There are a lot of people performing in this show who have never worked in Renton Civic before,” said Orduña. “We have a lot of Seattle actors and a lot of South King County folks. (There are) people from Tacoma and Olympia, who are working on this show.”

Orduña is no stranger to the Renton theater community. His past directorial positions have been with the former Valley Community Players, Renton Civic Theatre, Carco and the Renton Teen Musical. He’s directed Seattle productions and previous to coming to Washington state, Orduña spent seven years in New York City, directing for a touring company there.

The Renton theater community has a nice family feel, is a great place for actors to cut their teeth and has produced some great talent, Orduña said.

Last Sunday, he watched good friend and Broadway producer, Ron Simons, pick up a Tony Award for the production “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”

Simons performed at Renton Civic Theatre years and years ago, Orduña said.

The director knows that people will come from outside the city to see “Forum” but hopes that the Renton community turns out for the musical, too.

“You don’t have to drive to Seattle and fight for parking; there’s some really great theatre happening in your own community,” he said.

Tickets for the show

Tickets for the show are $25 for adults and $20 for seniors and students. For more information and to purchase tickets online, visit the theatre’s web site or call 425-226-5529.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 24 edition online now. Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates