Here is all the character and plot information for A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum – which may assist your audition preparation. All resources (audition pieces) referred to in character descriptions are at the bottom of this page, beneath the plot.
Audition 1 Tuesday 2nd Jan 7:30
Audition 2 Thursday 4th Jan 7:30
Location; St Michael’s Hall, Lichfield St, Stone, Staffs
Please share widely and encourage your friends and contacts to think about auditioning.
All ages are apparent not actual.
You Tube link for investigation of characters and Songs: youtu.be/-NPy4M7QUug
Pseudolus – Baritone
A Roman slave, owned by Hero, who seeks to win his freedom by helping his young master win the heart of
Philia. Quick-witted, scheming, childlike spirit. His name means "Faker."
• By far the largest and most comic role.
• Comic timing is everything.
• Sings partial solos in 8 songs, delivery and enthusiasm and the ability to “sell” the songs are far more
important than a beautiful voice.
• Some choreography — likely to be more comic than technical and adapted to the actor.
Age: 30 to 50
READING PSEUDOLUS 1, 2 and 3 (1 is a monologue)
SINGING MUSIC 8 (PRETTY LITTLE PICTURE)
Hero – Tenor
The young son of Senex and Domina. He falls in love with Philia and agrees to give Pseudolus his freedom if
he can help Hero woo her. Practical, privileged, romantic.
Singing role. Some dance.
• Of all the characters he is the most traditional leading man type.
• However, as he is also a virgin, it is imperative that he impart a naivety.
Age: 20 to 35
READING Hero 1 and 2
SINGING MUSIC 11 (IMPOSSIBLE)
Senex: (Latin for "old man") A henpecked, sardonic Roman senator living in a less fashionable suburb of
• Plausibly Hero’s father.
• Singing role.
• When his domineering wife is away, he enjoys believing the mistaken idea that he can be the object of
the young virgin’s affection.
Age: 45 to 70 (Age related to age of actors cast as Hero and Domina).
READING Senex 1 and 2
SINGING MUSIC 9 (Everybody ought to have a maid)
Hysterium – Baritone
The chief slave in the House of Senex. Believes he is in control, but is actually Pseudolus’ puppet to carry
out his schemes. Anxious, conservative, loyal. He desperately wants everything to be in order.
Latin for "Hysterical" or "Anxious," the suffix “-um” makes the name neuter, and the character's gender is
often mistaken throughout the piece)
• Although he is chief slave in the same house where Pseudolus is also a slave, Pseudolus bullies him and
treats him as an underling
• Much of his humor comes from the fact that he impersonates the young, female virgin, Philia
• Must be able to sing, speak in a falsetto voice
Age: 30 to 55
READING Hysterium 1 and 2
SINGING MUSIC 10 (I’m Calm)
Miles Gloriosus – Bass
(Latin for "boastful soldier," the archetype of the braggart soldier in Roman comedies) A captain in the
Roman army to whom Marcus Lycus has promised Philia. Commanding, boastful, manly and strong.
• Must sing, speak and act in a booming, arrogant voice
• Although a costume may provide the muscles, the actor must be able to pull off “gladiator-ness.”
Age: 25 to 40
READING Miles Gloriosus
SINGING MUSIC 13 (Bring my Bride)
Marcus Lycus: – Baritone
A purveyor of courtesans, who operates from the house to the right of Senex. (Name based on Lycus, the
pimp in Plautus's Poenulus.) Always out to make a profit, but also wants to provide good on what his
• Singing role (not major)
• Think of him as the “used car salesman” of the courtesans.
Age: 30 to 50 (but not critical)
SINGING MUSIC 6 The House of Marcus Lycus
Erronius: – Baritone
(Latin for "wandering") Senex's elderly neighbor in the house to the left. He has spent the past twenty
years searching for his two children, kidnapped in infancy by pirates.
• The smallest of the principal roles
• Sings only as part of the chorus in 2 songs
• Must be able to sound and move like an old man
SINGING MUSIC 3 Comedy Tonight
Philia – Soprano
(Greek for Love): A virgin in the House of Lycus whom we also find out is Erronius’ daughter. She is
promised to Miles and vows to give him bodily what he has paid for, but loves Hero and promises he will
always have her heart. Young, pretty, devoted. An archetypal ingénue.
Age: 18 to 25+
READING Philia 1 and 2
SINGING MUSIC 18 That’ll Show Him
Domina: – Mezzo-Soprano
(Latin for "mistress") The wife of Senex and mother to Hero. She is a shrewish woman who is loathed and
feared by even her husband. Senex’s wife. She dominates to the point of answering herself the questions
she asks of others. Loves her husband deep down, but is outwardly controlling, demanding, and
• Singing role
• Must play the stereotypical overbearing wife and mother
Age 40 – 60 (Age related to age of actors cast as Hero and Domina).
READING Domia 1 and 2
SINGING MUSIC 17 Dirty Old Man
Cortesans in the house of Lycus (provide part of the female chorus. Notice there are 6 courtesans as the
Geminae are twins)
Please note that the courtesans can be played by actors across a range of ages and looks. Lycus caters to all
At least some of the courtesans will however need to be prepared to wear revealing costumes and move
and dance in a sexy or sensuous way.
If this is likely to be of concern to you please mention your concerns at the audition.
Anyone age 16 or 17 (by the date of the first performance) intending to audition as a courtesan – Please
note we will need to get parental consent.
The courtesans will be expected to display their own personalities and characters largely through
movement and attitude
SINGING MUSIC 3 Comedy Tonight
The named courtesans will not be selected at initial auditions. This will be done early in the rehearsal
process. This is to ensure the best match of skills and attitude with each role.
If there are more than 6 prospective courtesans, there will be a “dance audition” to determine who plays
courtesans and who plays proteans.
• Gymnasia: (Greek for "Athletic," with the connotation of nakedness) A courtesan from the house of Lycus
with whom Pseudolus falls in love.
Often played be a very statuesque or voluptuous woman; however, a female of any size and shape may be
cast as long as she portrays the voluptuous attitude
• Tintinabula: (Latin for "Bells") A jingling, bell-wearing courtesan in the house of Lycus.
Think of a belly dancer whose every motion makes the bells ring
• Vibrata: (Latin for "Vibrant") A wild, vibrant courtesan in the house of Lycus.
In all likelihood her costume would be made of leopard skin – Needs to be able to growl sensuously and
move like a tigress
• Geminae: (Latin for "Twins") Twin courtesans in the house of Lycus.
The aim will be to get 2 actors of similar stature and colouring, however it is more important that the two
actors can work together and act (in fact move) in tune with each other.
• Panacea: (Greek for "Cure All") A courtesan in the house of Lycus. A face that can say a thousand words
and a body that can hold a thousand promises.
Choristers who play multiple roles (slaves, citizens, soldiers, and eunuchs). Wonderful parts as they are
almost always on stage, though very few lines
• On Broadway, three men played all of these roles, we may use more and may cast women in these roles
• These are singing and dancing roles
SINGING MUSIC 3 Comedy Tonight
In ancient Rome, some neighbors live in three adjacent houses. In the center is the house of Senex, who
lives there with wife Domina, son Hero, and several slaves, including head slave Hysterium and the
musical's main character Pseudolus. A slave belonging to Hero, Pseudolus wishes to buy, win, or steal his
freedom. One of the neighboring houses is owned by Marcus Lycus, who is a buyer and seller of beautiful
women; the other belongs to the ancient Erronius, who is abroad searching for his long-lost children
(stolen in infancy by pirates).
One day, Senex and Domina go on a trip and leave Pseudolus in charge of Hero. Hero confides in Pseudolus
that he is in love with the lovely Philia, one of the courtesans in the House of Lycus (albeit still a virgin).
Pseudolus promises to help him win Philia's love in exchange for his own freedom. Unfortunately (as the
two find out when they pay a visit on Lycus), Philia has been sold to the renowned warrior Miles Gloriosus,
who is expected to claim her very soon. Pseudolus, an excellent liar, uses Philia’s cheery disposition to
convince Lycus that she has picked up a plague from Crete, which causes its victims to smile endlessly in its
terminal stages. By offering to isolate her in Senex’s house, he is able to give Philia and Hero some time
alone together, and the two fall in love. But Philia insists that, even though she is in love with Hero, she
must honor her contract with the Captain, for “that is the way of a courtesan”. To appease her, he tells her
to wait “that’s what virgins do best, isn’t it?”) inside, and that he will have the captain knock three times
when he arrives. Pseudolus comes up with a plan to slip Philia a sleeping potion that will render her
unconscious. He will then tell Lycus that she has died of the Cretan plague, and will offer to remove the
body. Hero will come along, and they will stow away on a ship headed for Greece. Satisfied with his plan,
Pseudolus steals Hysterium’s book of potions and has Hero read him the recipe for the sleeping potion; the
only ingredient he lacks is “mare’s sweat”, and Pseudolus goes off in search of some.
Unexpectedly, Senex returns home early from his trip, and knocks three times on his own door. Philia
comes out of the house, and, thinking that Senex is the Captain, offers herself up to him. Surprised but
game, Senex instructs Philia to wait in the house for him, and she does. Hysterium arrives to this confusion,
and tells Senex that Philia is the new maid that he has hired. Pseudolus returns, having procured the
necessary mare’s sweat; seeing that Senex has returned unexpectedly and grasping the need to keep him
out of the way, Pseudolus discreetly sprinkles some of the horse-sweat onto him, then suggests that the
road trip has left Senex in dire need of a bath. Taking the bait, Senex instructs Hysterium to draw him a
bath in the long-abandoned house of Erronius. But while this is happening, Erronius returns home, finally
having given up the search for his long-lost children. Hysterium, desperate to keep him out of the house
where his master is bathing, tells the old man that his house has become haunted – a story seemingly
confirmed by the sound of Senex singing in his bath. Erronius immediately determines to have a
soothsayer come and banish the spirit from his house, and Pseudolus obligingly poses as one, telling
Erronius that, in order to banish the spirit, he must travel seven times around the seven hills of Rome (thus
keeping the old man occupied and out of the way for quite a while).
When Miles Gloriosus arrives to claim his courtesan-bride, Pseudolus hides Philia on the roof of Senex's
house; told that she has "escaped," Lycus is terrified to face the Captain's wrath. Pseudolus offers to
impersonate Lycus and talk his way out of the mess but, his ingenuity flagging, he ends up merely telling
the Captain that Philia has disappeared, and that he, “Lycus”, will search for her. Displeased and suspicious,
Miles insists that his soldiers accompany Pseudolus, but the wily slave loses them in Rome’s winding streets.
Complicating matters further, Domina returns from her trip early, suspicious that her husband Senex is “up
to something low.” She disguises herself in virginal white robes and a veil (much like Philia’s) to try to catch
Senex being unfaithful. Pseudolus convinces Hysterium to help him by dressing in drag and pretending to
be Philia, “dead” from the plague. Unfortunately, it turns out that Miles Gloriosus has just returned from
Crete, where there is of course no actual plague. With the ruse thus revealed, the main characters run for
their lives, resulting in a madcap chase across the stage with both Miles and Senex pursuing all three
“Philia”s (Domina, Hysterium, and the actual Philia – all wearing identical white robes and veils).
Meanwhile, the courtesans from the house of Marcus Lycus – who had been recruited as mourners at
“Philia”‘s ersatz funeral – have escaped, and Lycus sends his eunuchs out to bring them all back, adding to
the general pandemonium.
Finally, the Captain’s troops are able to round everyone up. His plot thoroughly unraveled, Pseudolus
appears to be in deep trouble – but Erronius, completing his third circuit of the Roman hills, shows up
fortuitously to discover that Miles Gloriosus and Philia are wearing matching rings which mark them as his
long-lost children. Philia’s betrothal to the Captain is obviously nullified by the unexpected revelation that
he’s her brother. Philia weds Hero; Pseudolus gets his freedom and the lovely courtesan Gymnasia;
Gloriosus receives twin courtesans to replace Philia; and Erronius is reunited with his children. A happy
ending prevails for all – except for poor Senex, stuck with his shrewish wife Domina.