VINTAGE PLAYBILL: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, 1962

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08 May 2013

On this date in 1962, Stephen Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum opened at the Alvin (now Neil Simon) Theatre.



Though he had penned the lyrics to Gypsy and West Side Story, Forum represented Sondheim's first complete score (music and lyrics) produced on Broadway.

The musical was well-received by critics and audiences, though Sondheim's score went largely unnoticed. In Howard Taubman's New York Times review, he likened the farce to "the days when comedians were hearty and comedy was rough and tumble...an ancient and honorable style of fooling" but deemed Sondheim's songs "accessories."

Zero Mostel won a Tony for his starring role as Pseudolus, and David Burns earned a Tony for his featured performance as Senex. Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart shared a Tony for the book, George Abbott won for his direction, and the production won for Best Musical of 1963. Sondheim was not nominated.

The production went on to play 964 performances and later returned to Broadway in a 1972 revival starring Phil Silvers and a 1996 revival starring Nathan Lane.

Read the premiere Forum Playbill in the Vault.