A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum / Princeton Festival
John Timpane // Philly Inquirer
” … jingles these keys in its toga. The production makes of a small budget a big virtue.
“This stripped-down, back-to-the-roots rendition is simultaneously slapdash, as it must be, and tight. Eleven well-cast actors, most of whom can really sing, keep the warhorse in a lather”
“There are two keys to a good production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Key 1: a good Pseudolus, wily slave and emcee, master clown, fine vocalist, fourth-wall-busting happy destroyer, and gifted pratfaller. Key 2: three crazy, talented Proteans. They’re Proteans because they play many roles. They present parts of the story you can’t otherwise see onstage (example: the abduction of the children of Erronius by pirates, which can’t just be told to us but must be shown), and also act as prostitutes, soldiers, slaves, anyone else needed. With those two keys, you could act Funny Thing in a landfill and still get laughs.
The Princeton Festival production of Funny Thing, through July 1 at the Matthews Acting Studio, jingles these keys in its toga. The production makes of a small budget a big virtue. Michael Caizzi channels Zero Mostel in movement, hamminess, and ad-libs, adding a likable dose of himself. And three bows to Caitlin Ablaza, Jenna Pinchbeck, and Erin Ulman, the Proteans, a terrifically silly mini-ensemble within the ensemble.”
Neal Zoren // Route One
“Morgan is smart in keeping his “Funny Thing” fairly straightforward and letting the script and lyrics do their work.”
“Morgan’s production is the right kind of clockwork. It wisely trusts able players to know their business and keep the play hopping while investing it with a lot of personality.” Neal Zoren // Route One
Kiss Me Kate / Barrington Stage Company
“Michael Dean Morgan…. really does stop the show cold, for at least three encores… terrific.” // Berkshires Review
“…the show’s zoot-suited gangsters, Carlos Lopez and Michael Dean Morgan deliver comic excellence capped by their rendition of “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.” // Times Union
“…performed hilariously by Michael Dean Morgan” // Rural Intelligence
“However, it was Carlos Lopez and Michael Dean Morgan as the two inept gangsters who stole the show with their “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.” This was probably the best interpretation I’ve ever heard. They were brash, funny and even a little sexy, their accents perfect. They even wore their hats as if they were born to this period. They literally stopped the show, having to perform all of Porter’s many hilarious encores.”
“Playing George, Michael Dean Morgan fills all of it, sketching an emotional,nearly Dickensian transformation from the prematurely aged man he has become to the kite-flying boy he was never allowed to be.”
Milwaukee Journal/Mike Fisher
“Waukesha native Michael Dean Morgan is the repressed father, George Banks. His big moment comes late in the second act, in a reprise of “A Man Has Dreams.” Morgan’s change of heart seems genuine and his spontaneous outburst in the cartoon-like bank scene is spot on.”
THIRD COAST Digest/Mary Ohara Stacey
“Michael Dean Morgan’s authoritative and complex George Banks is consistently compelling.”
Mary Poppins Review
HERALD STAR BOSTON/Sarah Reed
“…wonderful chemistry on the stage … played characters’ struggles, disagreements, and, of course, love to touching perfection.
Columbus Theater Examiner/Erin Millar
“Michael Dean Morgan, as George Banks, makes a remarkable transformation as he realizes that his family is what’s truly important. And you feel confident that the family will live happily ever after.”
The Herald News Providence
Los Angeles Theater Review:
MARY POPPINS (Ahmanson Theatre)
by SAMUEL BERNSTEIN on AUGUST 11, 2012
in THEATER-LOS ANGELES
“This is a lovely evening of theater, with everything and everyone operating at a gratifyingly consistent high level of professionalism. Yet there is also occasional magic on display, and to me, the most astonishing work is that of the father-son combo of Michael Dean Morgan and Zachary Mackiewicz as George and Michael Banks, respectively. Perhaps it is strange to single them out.
“But for me, the Banks boys are the rather unsung glue that holds the whole enterprise together. Without their journey—a flowering of self-discovery that leads to the dawning of true family connection—there would be little heart to this co-production of theatrical behemoths Disney and Cameron Mackintosh.
“The transformation of Mr. Banks from disengaged martinet to loving father is meant to be a crucial narrative element, but it is one that can easily feel forced, like medicine going down with a spoonful of saccharine. (Of course they have to become more of a family through Mary Poppins’ meddling, but can we get past that part so we can all sing along to “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?”)
“Yet Morgan makes it his own. He is precise and imaginative in his early supercilious disengagement, and touchingly flabbergasted when he finds himself cutting loose. His face and body virtually explode with the pleasure of feeling naughty and free. Morgan is helped along immeasurably by the plot tweaking in the stage musical that leads his character fully to the edge of destitution with greater seriousness and dread than does the film—but the touching believability of little Mackiewicz is what allows the emotional resonance to fully flower. His longing for his daddy’s attention does not feel like the generic wish of a boy for a father, any father, but a specific need for this son to feel the love of this particular father.
“He knows with all his heart that if his daddy would just teach him to fly a kite, then everything would be all right in their world.”