Playbill Critics Circle: Review Whoopi in Forum

News   Playbill Critics Circle: Review Whoopi in Forum Whoopi Goldberg has taken over the role of Pseudolus in the Broadway revival of the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. We'd like to ask those who have seen her to review her performance. How is her singing, her acting, her dancing, her ensemble playing? The part is traditionally played by a man, but has been restaged and slightly rewritten for a woman. Does this work? And, if you saw Nathan Lane or Zero Mostel or Phil Silvers in the role, how does Whoopi stack up?

Whoopi Goldberg has taken over the role of Pseudolus in the Broadway revival of the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. We'd like to ask those who have seen her to review her performance. How is her singing, her acting, her dancing, her ensemble playing? The part is traditionally played by a man, but has been restaged and slightly rewritten for a woman. Does this work? And, if you saw Nathan Lane or Zero Mostel or Phil Silvers in the role, how does Whoopi stack up?

 

Write your review -- long or short -- and email it to Managing Editor Robert Viagas at robert_viagas@playbill.com. Reviews will be posted as they come in. There may be some editing for space.

Please include your town and state, and please note whether you'd like us to include your full e mail address so you can receive responses. This is optional, of course.

Here are the results so far: From CurlyQute:
This is the second time that my husband and I saw "Forum"! Last year, we saw it with Nathan Lane and laughed hysterically. With Whoopi, the show was equally as good, and we "roared" with laughter!!! She was phenomenal in her acting and ad-libbing. The chemistry between her and the actor who played Hysterium was great!!!!
I don't know when I last was so entertained!!!! (5/12/97)

 

From De Undre C. James, Houston, TX:
I just came back from a trip tp New York over Spring this past week an d while I was there I saw Whoopi Goldberg as Pseudolus and I must say that she was BRILLIANT, FUNNY, CHARMING and just down right DELIGHTFUL!!!! At first friends and I didn't know what to expect with the role being played by a woman. Rest assured that any doubts that we had were laid to rest! Ms. Goldberg stated in an interview for Playbill that it was the "attitude not the gender" of the character that mattered. I couldn't agree more. I applaude her and the entire company on one of the most memorable performances I have seen in a long time. (3/31/97)

 

From Milton Demel:
I saw the Sunday Matinee performance on Sunday March 9th. I had already seen this show twice with Nathan Lane and was curious as hell as to how this "Star" was going to pull this out. She was excellent! I laughed non- stop for two hours. Not only is her performance fresh and energetic but the rest of the cast has come to life. Whoopi is so laid back; that the antics of the other characters really complement her performance and vice versa! (3/12/97)

 

From Jeff Short:
I saw the Saturday matinee performance of Forum this last weekend and I was incredibly surprised with Whoopi's performance. After hearing people say that she looked like a "fish out of water", I found her performance to be very laid-back, very funny and very Whoopi. She made off-hand comments to audience members coming in late and I thought her voice was very credible. I hope I have the chance to see her toward the end of her run because I bet as time goes on that she will be fantastic! (3/6/97)

 

From Jercormic:
Saw Forum on 3-5-97. After reading the message boards from the die-hard Nathan Lane fans I admit I was a little apprehensive about seeing it with Whoopie. Well, I shouldn't have worried. We enjoyed every minute of the show and it was quite evident from her first appearance on stage that this was to be a delightful experience. Obviously, Ross Lehman, dressed as Phila singing "Lovely" to Nathan Lane would have had the sexual impact thing, but it couldn't have been any funnier than it was with Whoopie. This is a talented, talented lady working with a great cast and I highly recommend it. Oh, and yes, I am still laughing - trying to remember every one of those quick, clever, perfectly delivered lines. (3/6/97)

 

From The Maroneys:
Whoopi in Great For(u)m!!
We saw the show about two weeks ago. It might as well have been written for her. Super high energy level, great audience interaction. Whoopi seemed happy to be there and so were we. There is nothing here for the critics not to like!!! (3/6/97)

 

From Nicholas Simons (njs0@email.allencol.edu) Bangor, PA:
I just saw Ms. Goldberg this afternoon and she was good, not great but good. The most humorous part of thwe show was right after the opening number "Comedy Tonight": Pseudolus is supposed to say, "Let the play begin," but Ms. Whoopi saw some latecomers coming down the aisle, and she completely stopped the show, ad-libbing the whole time with one liners such as "I thought the tickets said 2 o'clock on them but I could be wrong." It was very amusing [the way] she played off the other characters. But during her short monologues it felt like she was reading her lines instead of acting them. I am sure she will improve with time, but she is playing Whoopi Goldberg, NOT Pseudolus or Prologus. (3/5/97)

 

From Kathy:
What a disappointment! We saw Whoopi last Thursday evening and wished we had saved our $150 for another show. As much as the rest of the cast tried by hamming it up, the show never seemed to have that "spark," which would make you want to see the performance again. We are Whoopi Goldberg fans, but feel that this particular show does not fit in with her style of comedy. Many times her jokes seemed to fall flat. Perhaps that was why two side sections in the mezzanine were empty. (3/5/97)

 

From AdamFine:
The choice of Whoopi seems obvious, but only if you look at it as a ploy to keep ticket sales high after Lane left. Although she gets plenty of whoops and cheers, she's just not strong enough to hold the role. Vocally, she tries hard, and "Comedy Tonight" just about makes the grade. But most of her lyrics are given to Senex in "Maid," turning the duet into a solo while Pseudulus just sort of stands there. Her delivery is far too urban and coy. Where she should be over-the-top and manipulating the events on stage, she's swept up by them. Pseudulus is an extremely manic, incredibly demanding role. Whoopi understands comedy and timing--that's obvious. But she's so miscast, you find yourself sitting there thinking, 'why on Earth is she on that stage?' Whoopi's got tremendous talent and is a natural for the stage. She just needs the right role--and this isn't the one. Perhaps she could take a few lessons in overacting from her boyfriend Frank Langella, who does nothing but in "Present Laughter." (3/5/97)

 

From Marty, Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
I saw Sunday, Feb. 16 mat - a SRO house gave Whoopi a warm welcome and a standing ovation. Whoopi delivered a flawless performance in terms of her lines, singing and movement. Her comic delivery was put to good use, and the show was bright and funny. She fits the role well enough - and it seems unnecessary that the writers have chosen to make her the "cousin" of the one black courtesan, "high-fives" and all. The show is not as good as it ought to be. The original (with Mostel) had a certain sweetness and innocence which is now gone. In particular, I think the casting (or direction) of Philia, Lycos and Miles is to blame.
Whoopi will no doubt become even funnier as time goes on. It is delightful to see her on stage. Lane is a tough act to follow and she will have to find more of her own voice in this role. (2/17/97)

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