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Allergies knock Scolari out of Muny's 'Forum'

Allergies knock Scolari out of Muny's 'Forum'

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There's nothing funny about allergy season in St. Louis, as Peter Scolari discovered when he began rehearsing for "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," opening Wednesday at the Muny.

“To my great sadness, our Forest Park setting was brutal on Peter’s allergies,” Muny artistic director and executive producer Mike Isaacson said in a release Tuesday. “He worked so hard, and was a true delight on and off-stage. But it was clear that our trees and cottonwood had gotten the best of him, and he was suffering from an aggravated sinus infection.”

Scolari, who was profiled in Sunday's A&E section of the Post-Dispatch, is best known for HBO's "Girls" and before that for "Newhart" and "Bosom Buddies" on television. He had been excited about performing on the big Muny stage.

“If I could go on with my performance, I would, but it’s just not physically possible,” Scolari said in the Muny release. “I’ve been treated so beautifully, and I’ve had a wonderful time in rehearsal with a beautiful company of actors."

Scolari was a late recast for "Forum," replacing the previously announced Jordan Gelber. He had been in town only since June 26.

Stepping into the lead as Pseudolus is Jeffrey Schecter, who just finished a run in the Muny's "The Little Mermaid" as Scuttle.

Schecter has never played Pseudolus and "is rehearsing day and night," Isaacson told Post-Dispatch theater critic Judith Newmark on Tuesday. Given the complexity of Sondheim's words, he may have the script in hand for at least some scenes in the beginning, Isaacson said, adding that he planed to speak to the audience to explain the situation.

"I wish I could be there, thanks to all, and I’m so glad a brilliant actor like Jeffrey Schecter can come in and save the day," Scolari said. "He will be brilliant.”

"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, runs Wednesday through July 11.

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Gail Pennington is the television critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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