Friday, March 19, 2010

Summary of Judgment: Bergen in 'Forum'

As I mentioned on Twitter and alluded to in that Jason Alexander post, while in L.A. I took in ex-Jersey Boys star (and my MJ tribute benefit co-producer) Erich Bergen in the full dress rehearsal prior to the two-week run of "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum." The show, now open, runs through March 28 at the Freud Theater at UCLA.

The show was very funny and well-executed, not all that surprising since all of its performers had impressive Broadway and TV credits. But I was especially gratified to see that my friend is getting stellar notices as Hero, the dopey love-struck Roman youth whose pining for an equally dumb and pretty young thing Philia sets the whole comedy plot in motion. Excerpts:

* The L.A. Times: "As the young master, Erich Bergen sweetly floats his high-tenor voice through the love-struck ballad 'Love, I Hear,' then twines it around doe-eyed Annie Abrams, as the amusingly dim object of his affection, in 'Lovely.' "

* Variety: "If it takes a smart actor to portray a dumb character, Bergen and Abrams must be the smartest thesps in town. Totally sweet and winning, they land jokes and physical reactions that have escaped generations of Heros and Philias, and sell the numbers with unexpected touches of whimsy."

* The Orange County Register: " 'Lovely,' Hero and Philia's love duet, is the ideal showcase for Erich Bergen and Annie Abrams, two young performers gifted with wonderful voices (you might have seen him as Bob Gaudio in the L.A. production of 'Jersey Boys')."

* Examiner.Com: "An up-and-coming rising star on stage is Erich Bergen as Hero, (most recently completing a three year run as Bob Gaudio in Tony winning Jersey Boys). Bergen, who performed, in his earlier youth, at Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Center, in New York, is a fresh, promising musical talent, a singer/songwriter, now at work on his debut album, to be released this summer. His vocal duets with Annie Abrams (Philia) are true show stoppers, and delightful diversions from the show's hilarious antics."

* Backstage.Com: "The evening is filled with scintillatingly funny performances [including] Erich Bergen's dewy-eyed romantic, Hero."

* Theatermania.Com: "Erich Bergen brings more than just boyish charm to the role of the innocent Hero."

It's really a terrific production all around and also stars Larry Rabin, who starred at Paris Las Vegas as Leo Bloom in "The Producers" as well as a performer from the dancing cast of Celine Dion's "...A New Day," though I don't remember who that was from what Erich told me. Anyhow, there's loads of Vegas stamped all over this show.

If you're in L.A. through March 28, go. Get tickets here.