Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Little Bit of Broadway

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

American screenwriter and playwright Larry Gelbart died last Friday. He’s best known for his film Tootsie, and for the film and TV series M*A*S*H, but, along with Burt Shevelove, Larry Gelbart provided the book to one of Broadway’s funniest show – Stephen Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Based on ancient Roman farces, it’s the story of the slave Pseudolus and his attempts to win his freedom by helping his young master woo the girl next door. Filled with all the wonderful conventions of farce, it has puns, slamming doors, cases of mistaken identity (frequently involving characters disguising themselves as one another), and satirical comments on social class. It won Mr. Gelbart a Tony for best book of a musical.

We are listening to the film version today, because that’s the one I found first! The film cut many of the vocal numbers of the show but added many instrumental pieces.

"Comedy Tonight" — Pseudolus and Company
"Lovely" — Philia and Hero
"Everybody Ought to Have a Maid" — Pseudolus, Senex, Lycus, and Hysterium
"Bring Me My Bride" — Miles Gloriosus and Company
"Lovely" (reprise) — Pseudolus and Hysterium
"Funeral Sequence" - Pseudolus, Miles Gloriosus and Company
"Finale" — Company

Music and Lyrics:
Stephen Sondheim
Titus Maccius Plautus
Burt Shevelove
Larry Gelbart

Film Cast
Zero Mostel as Pseudolus
Phil Silvers as Marcus Lycus
Michael Crawford as Hero
Jack Gilford as Hysterium
Annette Andre as Philia
Buster Keaton as Erronius
Michael Hordern as Senex
Leon Greene as Captain Miles Gloriosus
Patricia Jessel as Domina

Michael Crawford went on to act in films and lots of BBC TV series, but he got his big break in 1986, as the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. Here he sings music from Disney films.

Colors of the Wind [From Pocahontas]
When She Loved Me [From Toy Story 2]
Your Heart Will Lead You Home [From the Tigger Movie]
You'll Be in My Heart [From Tarzan (1999)]
If I Never Knew You [From Pocahontas] - Michael Crawford, Sherie René Scott
Baby Mine [From Dumbo (1941)]
Lion King Medley
I Will Go Sailing No More [From Toy Story]

And to end, here's the theme song from M*A*S*H......

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