It was a funny evening all the way around as “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” had its opening night recently courtesy of the North Riverside Recreation’s Community Theatre.

I have enjoyed the play in the past on a variety of stages, so I pretty much knew what was going to happen and when. But, it did not take anything away from a great production and a great cast at North Riverside. Kudos to director Jay Fontanetta, musical director/conductor Michael A. Barr, choreographer Niki Wilk and stage manager Brittany Vogel for a very professional job.

I have to admit that I get very picky at plays have been known to critique them whether anyone wanted to hear it or not. I went with North Riversider Liane Blauw and my hairdresser, Karen Barthel, now of Indian Head Park. We were a jolly trio in the middle of the auditorium, and you could probably hear our laughter throughout the room.

We so enjoyed the casting as the actors seemed perfect for their parts. Jim Heatherly as Pseudolus, the slave who would do anything to be free, was not only funny, he had a great voice. Frank Petrovic was great as the stumbling slave Hysterium. Sam Buonomo was a perfect master of the house. We got a real kick out of Adam Fontanetta as Miles Gloriosus, the arrogant Roman general, whose singing was every bit as good as his comic acting.

Others in the cast, all delightful, were Dee Hamilton, Matt Murphy, Gianna Capra, Ben Affetto, Al Meyer, Cathy Sorenson, Jason Czajka, Josh Czajka, Elizabeth Diaz, Lauren Morgese, Sarah DePillo, Mallory Jandrists, Colleen Stahnke and Jagoda Borkiewicz.

The North Riverside Rec’s Community Theatre has gotten better with each passing year. I must admit that it got a bit of a slow start, though it always had a lot of heart and a desire to succeed. I am kind of partial to community theater, because it was in community theater, then in the Riverside Township Hall in the 1940s, that my parents met, fell in love, married … and, of course, had me.

The show had a full house, and no one seemed disappointed. People walked out humming whatever songs they could remember or praising this character or that character. If all the audience chit chat after the play was done is any indication of success, the actors can go home and know that they did an excellent job.

The Rec’s Community Theater will be presenting “I’m Getting Murdered in the Morning,” their second annual murder mystery/dinner fundraiser, on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2008, at 6 p.m. Reservations are $35 each with a call to Frank Petrovic at 442-6073 or by sending a check payable to North Riverside Recreation to Frank at 2337 9th Ave., North Riverside, Ill. 60546. Tables seat 10. I am hoping my schedule allows me to go, as I think that this might be a lot of fun.

Dogging it

On Oct. 7, I, and my former driver Steve Hadley, combined our four dogs and went over to Mater Christi Church for a blessing of the animals in honor of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, a saint who loved critters. Steve brought his Min Pin, King Tut (so tiny to be a pharaoh), and I brought the girls: scotties Molly McDoo and Fiona and Petty Sue Beagle. We each handled two dogs, who were wanting to go in four different directions at the sight of so many other animals on the Mater Christi grounds.

The grounds looked like a dog pound with so many breeds present. There did not seem to be too many cats, but there was at least one turtle who probably enjoyed the sprinkle of holy water more than any of the other creatures there.

Everyone became friendly immediately as only pet owners can when brought together. Another beagle’s human asked me if Peggy Sue Beagle ate all the time. Peggy Sue is a bit on the plump side, and so was this man’s beagle. We decided that all beagles eat all the time and have a tendency toward roundness.

It is a lovely little ceremony as we all prayed together and then got St. Francis prayer cards. I now have a prayer card affixed to the walls above each of my pooch’s food bowl, so that the prayer is always in play as they eat. I am hoping that, next year, even more folks come out and bring their pets, if not at Mater Christi, then at all the various churches which hold pet blessings.

It is a great way to get together, meet neighbors and get in tune with the little, furry, scaled and otherwise-covered innocents we are pledged to watch over and protect.