A funny thing happened on the way to Ralston Community Theatre this season. After directing Sweet Charity in 2016, Todd Uhrmacher thought it was time for a change of pace. This summer, Ralston moves from New York in the 1960s to ancient Rome.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum was the first musical for which Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics. The musical farce tells the story of Pseudolus, a slave desperately striving to earn his freedom, who tries to help his young master win the affections of a courtesan next door. The 1962 Broadway hit was later made into a movie, both starring Zero Mostel.
The Ralston production of Forum will include almost as many Ebkes as courtesans. Chris Ebke music directs, while his brother David stars as Pseudolus (a role Chris performed in college) and his wife Sarah plays Domina. The Ebke parents, Steve and Debi, are in the cast as well. This is the second time all five of them have taken the stage together; they were all in last season’s production of The Music Man at the Bellevue Little Theatre.
The Ebkes are theater to their core. Steve and Debi Ebke met during a production of The Pajama Game at the Chanticleer Theater in 1978. Steve played Prez and Debi did make-up. They fell in love and married in 1984. Thirty years later, Chris Ebke and Sarah Query met as cast mates in Once Upon a Mattress at”where else?”the Chanticleer Theater. A night or two out after rehearsals love struck again, and four years later they were married. Phone calls to David Ebke about when he would perform next at the Chanticleer were not returned.
Steve and Debi Ebke eventually fell out of theater and began raising a family. By the time Chris and David reached high school, the whole family was back on stage, including The Music Man and Beauty and the Beast by B & D Productions at the Chanticleer Theater. While they all have their own theater projects, they occasionally audition together for a show. When we’re in rehearsal you can tell we’re family, says Chris Ebke. But on stage we are professional.
Todd Uhrmacher has directed a community theater production of Forum once before, at the Bellevue Little Theatre nearly twenty years ago. “As we block this show I have flashes of memories of the past cast. With experience comes knowledge. I’ll keep some things we did in the past, but sometimes I know there’s a funnier way to do scenes. Especially when you are directing a stage full of Ebkes.”
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the Ralston Community Theatre will run at Ralston High School, 8969 Park Drive, from July 7th through July 23rd. Shows are Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 and Sundays at 2:00. Ticket prices are $20 for adults, $18 for students and seniors, and $15 for groups of 10 or more. Tickets can be ordered on line through the Ralston Community Theatre’s website, http://www.demo.ralstoncommunitytheatre.org/#!/tickets. Questions? Call them at (402) 898-3545 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org