If you can sit with a straight face while Sam Stewart sings "I'm Calm" to a rubber chicken, then you've overdosed on a vial of Hysterium's sleeping potion.

When slave Pseudolus flips a coin at the first of "A Funny Thing . . . " and announces that the audience will see a "Comedy Tonight," what ensues during the next two hours and 15 minutes more than meets any truth-in-advertising claims that might arise.This is "Noises Off Meets Monty Python With Music," with hilarity at breakneck speed, interspersed with zany songs and slightly naughty dialogue.

As with the upcoming SLCC musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," directors and casts can have some free-wheeling fun with this musical mayhem. As a bonus, director Scott Anderson has a nearly professional cast, with at least three Equity actors and several others with extensive credentials.

The chap at the center of this mirthful maelstrom is Pseudolus, a slave in the house of Senex. Played with unfettered abandon by Paul N. Gates, Pseudolus will stoop to no end of contrived schemes to obtain his freedom.

But while Pseudolus is constantly in the thick of things, it is Hysterium, chief slave in the same household - and played to the hilt by energetic Sam Stewart - who gets the best lines.

Not that other characters are slighted. They're not. Authors Larry Gelbart and Burt Shevelove and composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim dish out practically every little innuendo and pun in the book, and everyone - from Hero, the passionate young colt (Joey Alan Brodine), to his nagging mother, Domina (Tamara Adams), and his philandering father, Senex (Jesse Bennett) - gets plenty of delicious dialogue and titillating tunes.

Other key players in this rambunctious Roman circus include Bob Baker as Marcus Lycus ("you, sir, are a gentleman and a procurer"), a huckster of the first order; Bryan Gardner as Erronious, a doddering old gent searching for his long-lost son and daughter; Holly Healy as the beautiful and virginly Philia (the object of Hero's pent-up desires), and David Jensen as the brash Roman general, Miles Gloriosus.

The general's triumphant arrival into Rome has a decidedly Monty Python feel. In a flurry of confetti and serpentine, his chariot is pulled into the square by Pseudolus himself, who provides the clip-clop sound of hoofbeats on a pair of wooden blocks.

There's no horse, but there is an abundance of horseplay - and some of the funniest songs ever written for the Broadway stage (such as "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid" and "Lovely."

Unfortunately, the Roman gods of theater weren't entirely smiling on opening night. Paul Gates was in the throes of a throat ailment, causing two of his songs, "Free" and the hilarious "Pretty as a Picture," to be cut.

Also, Tamara Adams' microphone malfunctioned, so part of her dialogue and lyrics were muffled.

Adding considerably to the polished look of the show were Leslie Warwood's costumes (everything from tunics and towels to gaudy fabrics and Ziegfeldian chorus girl outfits), Clif and J. Chad Davis' scenery, Shelly Cordova's choreography, John Moran's lighting and Mearle Marsh's musicians - all up to par and beyond.

- Sensitivity rating: Due to the slightly bawdy nature of the broad humor, this is not for kiddies.