Lots of Laughs at MH Musical

From March 7th to March 9th, the Morris Hills stage captured the essence of ancient Rome as the Morris Hills Thespians presented the spring musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Full of deception, hilarity, and love, A Funny Thing Happened tells the story of a slave named Pseudolus, played by Michael Colasurdo, as he attempts to win his freedom by helping his master’s son Hero, played by Danny Dollase, win over Philia – the girl of his dreams. Though Pseudolus thought it would be simple, it ends up being more difficult than he thought as Marcus Lycus, a courtesan owner played by Zachary Orr, has already sold Philia, played by Hannah Ferguson, to Captain Miles Gloriosus, a renowned soldier played by Julian Figueroa. Other lead roles in the play include Senex, Hysterium, Domina, and Erronius who were played by Frankie Mastras, Robert McKnight, Emma Dollase, and Tyler Pal respectively.

Putting a musical together within months is difficult; however, the process for creating this year’s musical was especially difficult as Mrs. Calzone, one of the directors, was pregnant during the time of the production and would be unable to attend crucial rehearsals before the first show. Mr. Fahrer, an assistant director, stated that in order to navigate around Mrs. Calzone’s pregnancy, “Mrs. Uhler (the music director), Mrs. Dalton (the choreographer), and myself came together to organize and create a plan for when she would leave. Mrs. Calzone was also able to be here for most of the production so by the time she left, she left us with a good foundation for her vision of the show”. Though she wishes that she was there during the final week, Mrs. Calzone felt as though her absence did not have a major impact on the production. “I have been directing high school theatre for 15 years and it is my favorite part of my job,” she stated. In addition to Mrs. Calzone and Mr. Fahrer, Morris Hills students also stepped up and played major roles in the production process. These students include Theresa Caso-McHugh and Kathryn Donovan as student directors, Hannah Ferguson and Frankie Mastras as production assistants, and Robert McKnight, Gaudy Navarro, and Alexis Santana as dance captains.

Though this musical is one that is not well-known to many, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum has a strong connection to Morris Hills as both the fall play and this musical are farces – a type of comedy that entertains audiences by including situations that are exaggerated and improbable. Like the fall play, the musical featured a small cast as it included a total of only 20 actors and actresses. “Having a small cast allows the cast members to have a closer bond with each other and makes the normal stress of memorizing lines, choreography and songs seem simple,” said Frankie Mastras, who played Senex. In addition, as Kathryn Donovan noted, the play  “breaks the fourth wall, allowing for an interactive experience rarely seen on the stage. The audience is meant to be as involved in the jokes and as lost in the storyline as the characters are, keeping everybody on their toes.”

Congratulations to the cast, stage crew, and pit orchestra on an another successful performance. All of your hard work and dedication provided the Morris Hills community a night filled with laughs and smiles!