Cincinnati Landmark Productions has a Great “Comedy Tonight” at the Incline

Review by Grace Eichler

Cincinnati Landmark Productions opens us back into their post-COVID season with “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum,” and they certainly deliver. Full of gags and girls, the cast creates a cohesive comedy with Jeremiah Plessinger as Pseudolus at the helm. As the opening song boasts, it truly is “something for everyone, a comedy tonight.”

The plot is simple enough: boy falls in love with girl, girl is a courtesan sold to a captain, boy’s slave tries to win his freedom by uniting the lovers. Classic for well, the classics. Hijinks ensue, including pirates, potions and a “buyer and seller of the flesh of beautiful women.” Top that off with a score that’s full of innuendo and laughs, and, oh, did I mention the music and lyrics are Sondheim?

Director Bob Brunner elevates this production through numerous additional bits that leave the audience howling. Music Director Michael Kennedy harnesses a cast of powerhouse voices while maintaining the comedy and character needed for songs like “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid, “Impossible,” and “Lovely.” Choreographer Kate Stark’s talent is evident in the gaggle of courtesans that make up “The House of Marcus Lycus,” including Cassidy Steele as Dance Captain and Tintinabula.

The success of this production rests on the shoulders of Pseudolus (Jeremiah Plessinger), the narrator/slave/mischief maker that guides us through the story. Plessinger has been seen on the CLP stage before in comedies, and his Pseudolus leaves Zero (Mostel) to be desired. Foiled by Jimmy McDonald’s Hysterium, the slave-in-chief of the household, the two demonstrate high physical comedy with a clear mastery of the script’s layered humor. 

The family unit of son Hero (Elliot Handkins), father Senex (Harold Murphy) and domineering mother aptly named Domina (Annie Schneider) move the plot along. Murphy is the quintessential elder comedian, providing gags that poke fun at himself as much as his wife. Handkins is the naive, sheltered Hero that pairs perfectly with Hayley Isabella Warfel’s naive, sheltered Philia. Also noteworthy is the excellently utilized Proteans (Zac Holman, Kelsey Schwarber, and Lyndsey Adams) who fill in every other role on stage and create scene stealing moments while doing so.

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” runs now through May 15, 2022 at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater in East Price Hill. Go ahead, make a night of it! For tickets call 513-241-6650.

Grace Eichler is a Miami University alum, where she was past president of Stage Left and a mainstage performer. She has a life long love of theatre and is a dentist in Fairfield, living the credo “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.”