For Joe Colletti, his turn as Pseudolus, the central character in the Boise Music Week production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” is like running a marathon.
“I’ve been riding my bicycle a lot to train,” he says, jokingly, but not really. His character operates like a master showman, orchestrating the on-stage wackery and physical comedy. The role is a real comedy workout — like all three Stooges wrapped in a toga.
“It’s demanding,” Colletti says. “Pseudolus is the guy who drives the story and I’m on stage almost the entire time.”
He races from one side to another, pulling out more that a few commedia dell’arte tricks.
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Based on the work of Roman playwright Plautus, “Forum” pays homage to the halcyon days of burlesque, vaudeville, farce and music hall in this wacky story about a wily slave (Colletti) who attempts to win his freedom by helping his young master woo the virgin courtesan next door.
Boise Music Week will open its production of the play at the Morrison Center on Wednesday, May 11. The show is part of a nearly 100-year-old tradition that gives the city a week-long musical celebration filled with concerts, recitals and this full-scale community theater musical production — and it’s all free, but tickets are required for the musical.
The 98-year-old community nonprofit transitioned from mail-in ticket forms to online ticket sales last year. You can get your free tickets at the Idaho Statesman’s Boise.dealsaver.com.
John Myers is at “Forum’s” helm. This show has been on his bucket list for a while.
“I saw the movie (starring Zero Mostel) as a kid on TV,” he says. “I loved it. That’s when I said to myself, ‘I want to do that.’”
Though he didn’t pursue theater as a career — he currently works as inventory manager for Hayden Beverage — he does make theater a large part of his life. Myers directs regularly at Stage Coach Theatre and Boise Little Theater. He directed Music Week’s “Kiss Me Kate” in 2006.
Directing this breezy, tuneful, slapstick-filled comedy marks his second turn with Music Week. It is a different sort of musical than the group usually tackles.
Like last year’s “Gypsy,” based on the biography of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee and her sister, actress June Havoc, it contains more overtly adult themes — from bumps and grinds to slaps and tickles. But it’s still a story with a heart of gold, says Music Week selection committee head Allyn Krueger.
“We want to mix it up and appeal to a wider and broader audience,” she says. “Plus the music is exceptional and it’s funny.”
Filled with bawdy and endearing humor, “Forum” also is attracting different performers than those who usually come out for this annual tradition. Most of the cast of 22, including Colletti, are doing their first Music Week show, says director Myers.
“I think that’s because of the show, and I’m a different director than they’re used to working with,” Myers says. “But that’s a good thing, because it gives more people the chance to participate and be on this amazing stage.”
Colletti is one of the new kids on the block. He moved to Boise in September from California’s Silicon Valley. One of the first things he did was start getting involved in community theater. Musicals have been part of his life since college.
“I love the way musicals can tell a story when the lyrics and music come together,” Colletti says. “It creates powerful emotions.”
“Oh, boy! I’m so happy I get to do this,” Colletti says. “It’s a very talented cast to work with. I’ve been doing theater since I got here. To have them to be able to play with is just a gift.”
‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, to Friday, May 13; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14, Morrison Center, 2201 W. Cesar Chavez Lane. Tickets required.
Full Music Week schedule
▪ 7 p.m. Friday, May 6: International Dance Night, Timberline High School, 701 E. Boise Ave. Tickets required.
▪ 11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 7: Music in the Park, Gene Harris Bandshell, Julia Davis Park, 700 S. Capitol Blvd.
▪ Saturday May 7: “All That’s Jazz,” 6:45 p.m., Morrison Center, 2201 W. Cesar Chavez Lane. Featuring Boise State Vocal Jazz Ensemble, 25th Idaho National Army Jazz Band, West Side Redux. Tickets required.
▪ 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 8: Church Night, 7:30 p.m., Cathedral of the Rockies, 717 N. 11th St.
▪ 12:15 p.m. Monday to Thursday, May 9-12: Organ recitals, St. Michael’s Episcopal Cathedral, 518 N. 8th St.
▪ 7 p.m. Monday, May 9: Showcase, Timberline High School. Tickets required.
▪ 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 10: School Night, 7 p.m., Taco Bell Arena, 1401 Bronco Circle.
▪ 12:15 p.m., Friday, May 13: Organ recital and silent film, Egyptian Theatre, 700 W. Main St.
Here’s how it works: Click on “Get tickets” below, and the link will take you to the Boise.Dealsaver.com page for Boise Music Week tickets. (Note that for the showcase, All That’s Jazz and International Dance Night, click on the “See options” button and select your events.)