July 20, 2006


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Concord Publisher's Note: A Forum worth attending
By Dan Szczesny

One of the best things about summer in New Hampshire is that it's possible to take things outdoors. From dinner al fresco to fireworks displays, in summer the Concord area and all of southern New Hampshire is alive with activities that the entire family can share and enjoy.

One of the best examples of this is happening this weekend and next down in Manchester. It's this year's Theatre in the Park production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, the Broadway musical about ancient Rome.

Staged in Veterans Park in downtown Manchester, it's worth a family trip down to the Queen City to check this out. For starters, a number of Concord area people have parts in the show: Michael Curtiss of Allenstown, John Chambers of Bow, Kim Miracle of Hopkinton, and Russ Rattray of Dunbarton all have prominent roles.

Also, it's free to all. Think about that. An entire fully staged musical in the great outdoors, free and open to all, no matter what age group or income level. Not only is it something that's truly affordable, but it's a great way to bring people together for a remarkable shared experience--one made all the more remarkable because it's under the stars.

When are the shows? Four performance will take place. Dates are Friday and Saturday, July 21 and 22 and again on July 28 and 29. All shows begin at 8:30 p.m., but come early to get a good seat on the lawn. (Bring your own chairs and blankets!) For early birds, there will be pre-show entertainment in the form of a variety of local acts to help warm up the crowd.

What's the show about? Forum tells the tuneful story of Pseudolus (played by Manchester actor Brett Mallard), a cunning slave in ancient Roman who attempts to win his freedom by fostering a forbidden romance between his master's son and a not-so-eligible young girl.

The scheme soon spins out of control, leading the cast through a series of escalating predicaments, each one more hilarious than the last. Part classic comedy and part burlesque show, "Forum" stands as a total delight, filled with great songs that include "Comedy Tonight," "Impossible," and "Everybody Ought To Have a Maid."

Another interesting feature of this production is the roster of special guests who will make cameo appearances during the show. Luminaries including former Manchester Mayor Bob Baines and radio host Charlie Sherman will don togas and join in the event.

Many area businesses have contributed to keep Theatre in the Park a free event, which is great. Full disclosure: Hippo is a media sponsor for the show.

Why so many? Because that's how many people are expected to attend A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum over the course of both weekends. Last year's production of Grease drew more than 5,000 during one weekend, which is one reason organizers decided to expand this year's run to two weekend. (Also to protect the show in case of inclement weather.)

I hope you'll join me in taking advantage of this great summer event under the stars!

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