A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart.

Inspired by the farces of the ancient Roman playwright Plautus (251–183 BC), specifically Pseudolus, Miles Gloriosus and Mostellaria, it tells the bawdy story of a slave named Pseudolus and his attempts to win his freedom by helping his young master woo the girl next door. The plot displays many classic elements of farce, including puns, the slamming of doors, cases of mistaken identity (frequently involving characters disguising themselves as one another), and satirical comments on social class. The title derives from the line that vaudeville comedians often used to begin a story: "A funny thing happened on the way to the theater".

The musical's original 1962 Broadway run won several Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Book. A Funny Thing has enjoyed several Broadway and West End revivals and was made into a successful film starring the original lead of the play, Zero Mostel. It is a popular choice for school and community theatre.



Original Broadway production

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum opened on Broadway on May 8, 1962 at the Alvin Theatre, and then transferred to the Mark Hellinger Theatre and the Majestic Theatre, where the show closed on August 29, 1964, after 964 performances and 8 previews.

The show's creators originally wanted Phil Silvers in the lead role of Pseudolus, but he turned them down, allegedly because he would have to perform onstage without his glasses, and his vision was so poor that he feared tripping into the orchestra pit. (Silvers went on to play the role in a 1972 revival.) Milton Berle also passed on the role. Eventually, Zero Mostel was cast.[1]

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