Theater students don togas in period comedy

Mikael Drobny

USI and New Harmony Theater kicked off the 2011 Repertory Project season with the Roman musical comedy “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”.

The play by Stephen Sondheim recounts the slave Pseudolus’ quest for freedom as he helps his master win the heart of the girl next door.



The play is to run in repertory with the historical drama “The Lion In Winter” at the Mallette Studio Theater.

Eric Altheide described the theater project as “something that makes the department unique”.

Altheide, a contract assistant professor of theater, expressed enthusiasm at the opportunities for development the program offers, including allowing students to perform with professional working actors such as Licia Watson and Richard Marlatt.

Watson and Marlatt are both members of the Actor’s Equity Association.

“I love working with students. Some of my favorite shows that I have ever done have been shows like Buddy Holley and Footloose where there are large numbers of young people,” Watson said.

Watson portrays Eleanor and Domina in “Lion” and “Forum” respectively.

She typically acts in musical comedies similar to “Forum”.

“I hope the students realize how lucky they are to have a couple of great directors and definitely some wonderful designers. There are first-rate sets for both shows and the way it changes over so nicely and becomes something different in “The Lion in Winter” from tonight’s show,” Marlatt said.

“The students are fun and I am having a blast with them. It’s hard work for all of us and I am glad to be a part of it.”

Marlatt portrays Senex in “Forum” and King Henry in “Lion”.

Marlatt has toured the US as an actor and director as well as having studied in London, England.

“It’s completely different from last year,” USI sophomore and theater major Emily Durcholz who portrays Philia in “Forum” said.

“Being at USI, it is my first experience really immersing myself into an audience setting like the arena theater. I am very much a fan of audience interaction and getting people more engaged.”

This is Durcholz’s second year acting in the Repertory Project; her last experience was with “Hamlet” in which she portrayed Horatio.

She enjoys working with Altheide and feels that she has grown a lot as an actor due to his guidance.

“They (the cast) are really giving themselves over to creating comic bits, exploring new things and playing on stage instead of doing the same thing every single night. For me as the director who has seen it every day for the last two months I still want to watch them perform because they are constantly discovering new things and playing with each other on stage, which is something that I haven’t really seen them do here at this university before,” Altheide said.

“I think that this particular show just kind of allowed them to explore that.”

Altheide is also a member of the Screen Actors Guild and Actors Equity Association.

“Forum” is based on the book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart and will be running March 25th, 26th, 27th, 29th, 30th and 31st.

Tickets for USI students are $12 and adult tickets are $16 and can be purchased at the door or in the lower level of the Technology Center. Tickets are also available for purchase online.