CHAMPAIGN — In the 2005 Champaign Urbana Theatre Company production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," John Tilford took on the slapstick role of Hysterium.
This time around, in the reprise opening tonight at the Parkland Theatre, Craig Krukewitt will be Hysterium — and Tilford has the lead role of Pseudolus.
Matt Fear, who is active in comedy improv as well as theater, is directing the farce, in which Pseudolus, a crafty slave, struggles to win for his young master, Hero, the hand of a beautiful but slow-witted courtesan named Philia, in exchange for his freedom.
"The plot twists and turns with cases of mistaken identity, slamming doors and a showgirl or two," reads the CUTC website.
The popular musical first opened on Broadway in 1962; Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics, and Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart came up with the book. That production won several Tony awards, among them best musical and best book.
A film adaptation was released in 1966, with comic great Zero Mostel as Pseudolus. He also played that character on Broadway.
The title of the musical was inspired by history more recent than ancient Rome: Vaudeville comedians often started off a story with the line, "A funny thing happened on the way to the theater."
Other cast members in the CUTC show are Jeff McGill as Senex; Katie Johnston, Domina; Jace Jamison, Hero; Jim Dieker, Erronius; Monty Joyce, Miles Gloriosus; David Laker, Lycus; and Sara Freedland, Philia.
The Courtesans are Kim Ferguson as Tintinabula; Anna Summers, Panacea; Rachel Warren and Laura McQueen, The Geminae; Lily Maclin, Vibrata; and Antonio Luckett, Gymnasia.
The Proteans are Alexx Valdez, Meaguell Gaines, Derraun Barbee and Nico Perez-Jandrich.
If you go
What: Champaign Urbana Theatre Company presents the musical farce "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart; directed by Matt Fear
When: 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Parkland Theatre, 2400 W. Bradley Ave., C
Tickets: $16 for adults; $12 for senior citizens and students; $8 for children
Information: 344-3884; http://www.cutc.org