Local favorite Steven Hayes returns to CRT for 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum'

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Storrs - posted Tue., Jun. 18, 2013
Contributed
Steven Hayes as the crafty slave Pseudolus (right) with the two young lovers Hero (Adam Maggio) and Philia (Amandina Altomare). Contributed photos. - Contributed Photo

Actor Steven Hayes loves Storrs - and the feeling is apparently mutual. As Hayes prepared for his latest appearance at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre (he will appear as slave Pseudolus in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”), he took some time to sit down with Artistic Director Vincent Cardinal to talk about his relationship with the theater, and with the community.

Cardinal directed Hayes in a 1997 off-Broadway production of “Queens Boulevard,” “and we’ve been in and out of each other’s lives ever since,” said Cardinal.

“Whenever Vince thinks I’d be perfect for any role, I never question him,” said Hayes. “He’s always right.”

Cardinal thought Hayes would be perfect for the role of Horton the Elephant in CRT’s summer 2011 production of “Seussical.” Hayes also appeared as The Barber in “Man of La Mancha” and as The Major General in “Pirates of Penzance” during the 2012 CRT summer series. With each local appearance, Hayes endears himself further to the local community.

“People love Steve because Steve loves people,” said Cardinal. “Steve talks to everybody.”

“I make a point of going to as many of the local places as I can to talk up the shows,” said Hayes.

There couldn’t be a better place to participate in summer theater, according to Hayes. “I grew up in a small town in upstate New York,” he said. The small-town atmosphere, the landscape and the community, all harken back to his childhood days. “I love to just walk around out here,” said Hayes. CRT provides “the most professional and positive environment in the world,” he continued. The summer schedule is very demanding, with three musicals coming together in short succession. Rehearsals are six-day-a-week, daylong sessions. But Cardinal, and the rest of the CRT staff, makes the experience run smoothly, said Hayes.

And Storrs audiences can’t be beat, according to Hayes. “They love you. They’re so supportive,” he said. “Not every summer stock place is like this. It’s just a wonderful place. Who wouldn’t want to spend their summer this way?”

Terrence Mann, another CRT repeat performer (most recently appearing as Don Quixote in last summer’s production of “Man of La Mancha”), was asked to name his top five theater experiences. “CRT was on his list,” said Cardinal. “He said he remembered why he loved musical theater.” (Mann is currently starring on Broadway in a Tony Award-winning revival of “Pippin”).

Cardinal feels that Hayes’ YouTube series, “Tired Old Queen at the Movies,” serves to sustain and deepen his relationship with Storrs audiences. The series, which currently has nearly 6,000 followers, features Hayes, in his New York apartment, offering his thoughts regarding movie classics, most recently Joan Crawford’s “Humoresque.” Hayes’ endearing personality - and his obvious passion for films - keeps audiences coming back. “They start watching Steve on YouTube, and they have contact with him all year long. All year I'm asked 'Is Steve coming back?'” said Cardinal.

Regarding “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” Hayes has never played the role of Pseudolus before, “but I’ve always wanted to,” he said. “The show is a wonderful tribute to vaudeville and burlesque,” said Hayes, describing the show as an ancient Roman play in a modern context. “I’m running for the entire show,” said Hayes. “It’s very fast-paced, and absolutely hilarious.”

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, will run from June 20 through June 30 at the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre. The show features a mix of Actor’s Equity performers and students from UConn’s School of Dramatic Arts. “Forum” tells the story of a Roman slave who attempts to win his freedom by helping his master woo the pretty girl next door. “But the road to romance is never smooth, as our crafty hero dodges a riotous succession of stunning surprises, mistaken identities, wild chases, bawdy humor and zany characters - all in the pursuit of love and freedom,” according to a CRT press release. For tickets and information, call 860-486-2113, or go to www.crt.uconn.edu.


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