Musical must-see finaleBy John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin
WHOOPI Goldberg hardly could be doing a better job on Broadway than Dennis Edward Proulx does at Fort Shafter as Army Community Theatre closes its 1996-97 season with a triumphant production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum."
Proulx slips into character as the wily slave Pseudolus with hand-in-glove ease and gives a career-best performance. He has an impressive resume in local theater but, seconds into the performance, you're watching a slave -- not Dennis Edward Proulx.
Honolulu has seen few Broadway musicals revived here more successfully in recent years. ACT's season closer is the most notable such musical production of the season.
Proulx's performance is balanced neatly by his co-stars. First and foremost is Bruce Hale (Hysterium). Proulx and Hale are a tight-knit comic team throughout. The brightest of many great comic moments comes as Pseudolus forces Hysterium to portray a dead virgin -- and the initially reluctant Hysterium starts enjoying the assignment. Proulx and Hale make their duet, "Reprise: Lovely," the highlight of Act II.
Alexandra Grill (Philia) was one of the few true assets in Kennedy Theatre's cross-cultural bulldozing of "The Mikado" last fall. She is even better here. Grill sings with a clear and powerful voice of operatic quality. She also displays a fine sense of comic timing as a beautiful woman barely able to count past two. It is hard to believe Grill is still in high school -- she holds her own opposite performers with many more years of experience. She's clearly a teenage talent to watch.
Doug Kreeger (Hero) adds a young romantic lead with strong voice and assured acting skills. He and Grill match up well as the young lovers-to-be and share a fine comic moment with Stephen Sondheim's "That'll Show Him."
Smaller but equally essential performances come from Kurt Calumny (Senex), Willie Y. De Los Santos (Lycus), R.K. Harper (Miles Gloriosus), George Hearn (Erronius) and Lisa Konove (Domina). What a collection of talent!
Proulx is in top form every moment; an "audition" of Lycus' courtesans is one of his finest moments. Each audition is hotter than the one before. A matched pair of Geminae (Katherine Jones and Lisa Young) are hot. A pair of super-erotic tiger women (Rene'e Oshiro and Alison Ueoka) are ever better -- and poor lustful Pseudolus has to reject them all to win his freedom.
Proulx is the epitome of helpless lust as the seductive tiger women work their wiles on him. It's a great comic performance enhanced by clean and static-free sound, Tom Giza's substantial set, effective lighting effects by Christopher Brislin, and show-stopping choreography by Marcelo Pacleb. It's the musical to see this season!
"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" repeats 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, through May 24, at Fort Shafter's Richardson Theatre. Tickets are $6 to $15. Call 438-4480.