Williamsburg Players' latest features love, music wild schemes and plenty of laughter

aheymann@vagazette.com

Love, music, wild schemes and laugher are all part of the Williamsburg Player’s latest production, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”

“There are so many jokes that you can’t help but laugh along with them along the way,” said Neil Hollands, who plays the lede Pseudolus.

This play is about Pseudolus, a slave in ancient Rome who attempts to set up his master’s son, Hero, with a neighbor’s courtesan in order to gain his freedom.

“So the whole play is mainly about Pseudolus scheming and cheating and lying and doing everything he can to try and get Hero with this girl so he’ll be set free,” Hollands said.

Director Marty Bussert described the play as a farce, meaning even though there’s a script, anything goes.

“You can update things if you want, you can change things, anything you can do to make the audience laugh, that’s the purpose of it,” Bussert said. “And ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’ is written so well, you don’t have to add a lot.”

However, Bussert has added in some of his own lines and jokes, as well as some things the cast has come up with.

“In doing the rehearsals the cast would try something and I’d stop and I’d say ‘keep that in’ because when you’ve got 21 people, you’ve got 21 ideas,” Bussert said.

“That’s one of the great things about a show like this, is that it’s a collaborative effort.”

No two productions of this play are even close to being the same, according to Hollands.

“There are so many jokes and everyone takes their own take on them and makes up their own jokes to go with them, and throws them in and throw it all at the wall and see what happens,” Hollands said.

According to Hollands, the play is a little different every night. For example, Bussert said Hollands comes up with all the lines he says to the audience.

“There are ‘Game of Thrones’ jokes, before the soothsayer bit, I try to mix up the words I’m using every night to keep it a little bit fresh,” Hollands said.

In addition to belly-busting lines, Bussert said there is a lot of physical comedy in the show, including characters dressing up as each other and chase scenes.

“Some of the funniest moments in this show are the moments you’d miss if you blinked,” said Jesse DiPette, spokeswoman for the Players. “There might be a background actor who you might think is doing nothing who could have a moment that steals the show for you and there are things in here you might have to come back three or four times to catch it all.”

Want to go?

At 8 p.m. June 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 and 2 p.m. June 8, 15, 22 and 23, James-York Playhouse, 200 Hubbard Lane. Tickets $12-20; purchase at williamsburgplayers.org or by calling the box office at 229-0431.

This show’s Community Ticket Share is for active duty military. They are giving away 100 pairs of tickets to for the June 7, 8, and 13, shows. Get yours at williamsburgplayers.org/wp/tickets/communityshare.php.

Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.

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