Regional Theatre of the Palouse will take audiences back 2,000 years to the Roman era in the fast-paced Broadway comedy “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” opening tonight.Combining vaudeville, Stephen Sondheim’s music and the work of Roman playwright Plautus, the play stars a crafty slave named Pseudolus, who aims to win the hand of a beautiful, but slow-witted, courtesan named Philia for his young master, Hero. In exchange Plautus will receive his freedom but there’s a secret behind every toga.
The musical is directed by John Rich, founder and executive director of RTOP, and features the work of guest artist and master painter Mary Nichols.
Name: Mary Nichols
What is your past experience working on Broadway productions and which ones were you a part of?
I worked for a company called Production Resource Group and the company was hired to build sets and props for all forms of entertainment. I was a scenic artist in the art department. I primarily sculpted set pieces out of foam and worked as a finish carpenter. We were constantly working on so many shows that it was hard to keep track. Many of the set pieces we created were for Broadway productions, like “Something Rotten” and “Gigi.” I also worked on productions like NBC’s live musical of “Peter Pan,” Steve Wynn’s “ShowStoppers” in Las Vegas, and the Academy of Country Music Awards.
What was the most challenging thing about the work?
The most challenging thing about working for a production company is meeting the tight deadlines. During the busy season, we had so many projects going that we were in the shop about 70 to 80 hours some weeks. It was a really exciting time, but it was also somewhat grueling.
What brought you to RTOP?
I ended up in Pullman and it had been a while since I worked on a show. I contacted the local theaters to see if anyone needed a hand. I used to work on and design a lot of theater productions in Kansas City; I missed the creativity and collaboration. I thought it would be nice to do a bit of volunteer work in my free time.
Where can your work by seen in the production?
I can’t take any credit for the design concept of this production (which was done by Jett Bingman), but I carved and designed the foam details and did the finish painting.
If You Go
What: “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” by Regional Theatre of the Palouse
7:30 p.m.Feb. 16-18, and Feb. 22-25;
1:30 p.m., Feb. 18-19 and Feb. 25-26.
Where: Regional Theatre of the Palouse, 122 N. Grand Ave., Pullman
Cost: $12-$20, (509) 334-0750 or rtoptheatre.org