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indeed: The lead number of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum promises “something for everyone,” as long as it gets a laugh. And if you’re craving a classic old-school farce with great songs by Stephen Sondheim, that’s what Pittsburgh Public Theater’s new production will do. Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart’s 1962 show was inspired by the comedies of ancient Roman playwright Plautus: It’s 200 BC as a vaudevillian burlesque. Houseslave-on-the-make Pseudolus proposes to win his freedom by securing the courtesannext-door, Philia, for his naive master, Hero. Pseudolus’ scheme, naturally, ensnares the courtesan’s owner; Hero’s bickering parents; panicky slave Hysterium; a dotty old man named Erronius; and narcissistic warrior Miles Gloriosus.

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM continues through Feb. 25. Pittsburgh Public Theater, 621 Penn Ave., Downtown. $15.75-80. 412-316-1600 or www.ppt.org

As directed and choreographed by the Public’s Ted Pappas, Forum delivers antic wordplay, accomplished singing, energetic dancing, ludicrous disguises and crazy wigs for days. It’s got a live pit orchestra, a henpecked husband, and spoofs of female vanity and male pomposity. Also, a love potion. And rubber chickens. What puts it over the top, though, are Sondheim’s sparkling melodies and sublime lyrics, in songs like “That’ll Show Him,” in which Philia tells Hero that she’ll get revenge on Miles (who’s bought her) by canoodling with him, because she’ll really be thinking of Hero: “I’ll kiss him morning and night — / That’ll show him!” The pleasures range from Pseudolus’ sardonic ode to liberation, “Free,” to the cheerful lechery of “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid.” The cast of 18 features Jimmy Kieffer, splendidly conniving as Pseudolus. Other standouts include Gavan Pamer as the fretful Hysterium, and Stephen DeRosa as “That Dirty Old Man,” Senex. Admittedly, a musical farce set in ancient Rome, and written by mid-20th-century guys (even if one them’s Sondheim) isn’t your stop for roles for empowered women: Most of Forum’s female roles are courtesans, who are appropriately stunning but haven’t a line of dialogue between them. Ruth Gottschall’s delightful Carol Burnettish turn as Domina partly redeems that deficit as someone who ensures that the men in this man’s world get the ribbing they deserve.

THERE WILL BE BLOOD {BY ALEX GORDON}

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SATURDAY, FEB. 17 7:30 PM

IF BLACKFISH turned you off from Sea-

World for good, and you never had the opportunity to check out Gallagher and his watermelons, I’d recommend sitting in the splash-zone of Evil Dead: The Musical, staged by Pittsburgh Musical Theater. As in the Evil Dead film franchise, this production is generous with fake blood, and attendees in the designated first few rows get a particularly immersive experience. It’s not for the squeamish, but it’s all so campy, fun and absurd that it’s pretty easy to stomach. (Sitting in the splash-zone is voluntary.) The first iteration of Evil Dead: The Musical premiered in Toronto in 2003, with book and lyrics by George Reinblatt, and co-composing credits for Christopher Bond, Frank Cipolla and Melissa Morris. The title pretty much says it all: The plot is assembled from storylines from the Evil Dead film series (The Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness) and accompanied with exaggerated Broadway-style numbers to narrate.

This award-winning vocal band takes you on a journey that spans decades of music, from classic oldies to current chart-toppers, all sung a cappella. Featuring vocal dexterity, comedic timing and adventurous song selections, this remarkably talented sextet navigates multiple genres of music with a wonderfully eclectic repertoire that's guaranteed to captivate and entertain.

Tickets $16-$30 at

www.TheHillman.org or 412-968-3040

THE HILLMAN CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS | RICHARD E. RAUH THEATER Shady Side Academy | 423 Fox Chapel Road | Pittsburgh, PA 15238

EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL continues through Sat., Feb. 10. Gargaro Theater, 327 S. Main St., West End. $40. 412-539-0900 or www.pittsburghmusicals.com

The basic bones of the thing: Five twentysomethings go to a cabin in the woods for a weekend of drinking and sex, but end up releasing some kind of evil spirit which goes to on to wreak havoc and possess the party-goers. In the lead is Ash (B.A. Goodnack), a cartoonish protagonist armed with one-line quips and a chainsaw. Adam Fladd and Mandie Russak steal most of the early scenes as the dim horny couple, Scott and Shelly, but everybody on stage is game and entertaining throughout. Musically, the production is a little forgettable. The tropes of outsized Broadway musicals are imitated so well that they kind of stoop to their level. And while the humor and shock value of combining sugary melodies to deliver vulgar lyrics might have felt revelatory when the show debuted, it feels a little stale these days. It doesn’t end up mattering much, though. The cast sells the play’s strengths and overcomes its weaknesses simply by having as much fun on stage as a story this ridiculous deserves. Try the splash-zone: Ponchos are available on site.

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Feb. 7, 2018 - Pittsburgh City Paper  

Volume 28 Issue 6

Feb. 7, 2018 - Pittsburgh City Paper  

Volume 28 Issue 6