Whoopi Goldberg definitely will play the heretofore male role of Pseudolus as a woman when she takes over the lead in the Broadway revival of A Funny Thing Happened to the Forum, according to production spokesperson Jackie Green.
Asked if making the character of Pseudolus female might cause confusion when he/she cavorts with the courtesans in the house of Marcus Lycus, Green pointed out that although she can't comment on how the Whoopi staging will deal with specific gender issues, the show itself sidesteps problems because although Pseudolus does the cavorting, it's Lycus (Ernie Sabella), the procurer, who brings out the girls, not Pseudolus. Also, the famous "Everybody Ought To Have A Maid" number doesn't actually have any maids in it.
Green also said the character's name will remain Pseudolus.
Goldberg wore the same blue and white tunic as current star Lane on the stage of the St. James Theatre Oct. 9 when she made her casting official. Goldberg was one of the seemingly offbeat casting choices proposed by Playbill On-Line members in a July 1996 Playbill Poll. See story in Theatre News.
In the musical based on the works of Roman farceur Plautus, Goldberg will play a wily Roman slave who wins his (her?) freedom by outsmarting his master's family, a houseful of courtesans, their procuror, and even a Roman general and his men. One of the librettists, Larry Gelbart, is still living. The show has a score by Stephen Sondheim.
Goldberg, who began as a standup comedian, launched her way to stardom with a one-woman Broadway show in 1984. Produced by Mike Nichols, it ran 150 performances at the Lyceum Theatre.