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PEMCo to present ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’

| Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Pasquerilla East Musical Company (PEMCo) will present a rendition of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” this coming weekend. The show will run Thursday to Saturday in Washington Hall on campus.

Sophomore Katie Coury is directing the production. The show is a comedy that takes place in Rome and follows the exploits of the slave Pseudolus, who plots her way to freedom by playing matchmaker for her master’s son, Hero, who is in love with the beautiful blonde, Philia. Philia however, is promised to another man. When things stray from Pseudolus’ plan, chaos ensues.

Photo courtesy Kathryn Strimu

The cast of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” rehearses for their upcoming performance run. Members of the Pasquerilla East Musical Company (PEMCo), a student-run performance group, will present three performances of the comedy—set in ancient Rome—this weekend.

Senior Kathleen Capella plays Pseudolus in the show. She has been involved with PEMCo since her freshman year. This production marks her tenth show at Notre Dame. She said the audience will find the musical amusing, particularly lines coming from the character Hysterium.

“The show is highly entertaining … you’ll definitely leave laughing,” she said.

Capella is one of 30 students involved in the production. The musical marks Coury’s first directing opportunity, even though she has participated in three previous PEMCo productions.

“The people are amazing on and off the stage,” Coury said. “They are willing to go out of their comfort zone.”

Coury’s sense of humor is a real advantage, senior Caroline Lezny, PEMCo’s artistic producer, said.

“Katie’s greatest strength is comedy,” Lezny said. “She has a really strong funny bone in her body.”

The cast is composed of mostly underclassmen, with six of the thirteen cast members being freshmen. Senior executive producer Rosa Kim says this is “unusual” of most PEMCo productions.

“It has definitely added to the dynamic of the show. … They’re a very talented cast,” Kim said.

Capella said the youthful cast provides dynamism to the production.

“I love having a young cast. … [They] bring a new energy. As a senior, it makes me really happy to see that.”

The musical director, Sean Ford, is also a freshman. Ford plays a variety of musical instruments including the French horn and piano. Like Coury, he appreciates the support from the other cast members.

“We’re all like family,” Ford said. “They’re all eager to do a good job and really receptive to criticism so I couldn’t really ask for much else.”

PEMCo is run entirely by students. The group started in 1997 by a Kelly McGann, a former resident of Pasquerilla East. McGann wanted to bring musical theater to the University. In it’s 22nd year on campus, PEMCo has continued to be a space for students to express their creativity.=

“No one gets paid,” Kim said. “We do it because we love it.”

PEMCo will be hosting an information session for interested students on November 12 at 9 p.m. in Montgomery Hall located on the first floor of Lafun.

According to Coury, the storyline’s ancient roots makes it especially interesting.

“One of the coolest things about the show is that it was written in 191 BC. … The story at its root has stayed the same for over 2200 years. … It’s been around longer than a lot of empires,” she said.

Lezny said Coury has worked hard to hone the show’s comedic angle.

“Katie has tried to bring in lots of different types of comedy such as physical, puns, various types of styles of acting,” Lezny said. “There’s something for everybody.”

Kim agreed that, at its core, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” is a comedy that never ceases to amuse.

“I want the audience to have as much fun as the actors do on stage,” Kim said.

In addition to the show’s comedic value, Ford said, it also features an animal guest.

“We’ve heard the jokes a million times and still laugh,” Ford said. “Also, there is a wonderful chicken in the show. … If a rubber chicken can’t get someone to come to the show, I don’t know what will.”

Students can purchase tickets in advance at the LaFortune Student Center this week to ensure a seat. Tickets will also be sold at Washington Hall before each night of the show. They cost $10 for general admission and $7 for students.

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