Forum rehearsals commence in Melbourne

Rehearsals for one of the greatest comedic pieces ever written commenced in Melbourne today at Jason Coleman’s Ministry of Dance studios.

Forum Geoffrey Rush.
Geoffrey Rush will star in Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum

A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum rehearsals began with a bang this morning, and the AussieTheatre team were there for a sneak peek and a chin wag with the cast.

Geoffrey Rush led the company in a vocal rehearsal of Comedy Tonight, the show’s opening number, conducted by musical director Mathew Frank and accompanied by associate musical director Simon Holt.

Simon Phillips also spoke about his philosophy on the re-imagining of this comic masterpiece.

“This is one of the funniest pieces of writing – and certainly the funniest musical – in the canon” he said today.

“As a straight piece of farce, this is one the consummate pieces of farce writing that has ever been put together. It’s kind of Seinfeld… in togas.”

[pull_left] It’s kind of Seinfeld… in togas[/pull_left]

It is no secret that Rush and Phillips have been in discussions about working on this piece for some time, and Melbourne audiences will have the exclusive opportunity to see Geoffrey Rush and an all star cast live on stage for a limited season. Phillips has assembled a formidable lineup for the production including Shane Bourne as Senex, Magda Szubanski as Domina, Hugh Sheridan as Hero, Christie Whelan as Philia, Mitchell Butel as Hysterium, Adam Murphy as Miles Gloriosus, Gerry Connolly as Marcus Lycus and Bob Hornery (who appeared in the original Australian production 50 years ago) as Erronius.

A supporting ensemble including Stephanie Grigg, Elise Brennan, Monique Chanel Pitsikas, Rohan Browne, Robert Tripolino, Susan-Ann Walker and a 15 piece orchestra will round out the production.

Musical theatre star Christie Whelan is thrilled to be a part of this incredible cast and says she expects the rehearsal period to be a barrel of laughs.

“I think it’s the group of people” , she laughed. “There are huge group of us from Drowsy [Chaperone] and another group from [The Importance of being] Earnest and already this morning it has just been mayhem and madness. It’s going to be really fun”.

Director Simon Phillips was described as a ‘genius’ this morning more than once, and Adam Murphy (who is working with Phillips for the third time on a major musical) wholeheartedly agrees:

“It’s an easy rehearsal process with Simon” he said.

“He injects fun into the room so we feel like we can play and invent, which is wonderful, especially for comedy.”

The North Melbourne studios will be home to the production during its four week rehearsal period before the show transfers to Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre for opening night on October 27.

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Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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