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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 12, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 33
The One - The Only - Groucho!
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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The One - The Only - Groucho!

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

'AN EVENING WITH GROUCHO'
TEATRO ZINZANNI
August 10


Groucho Marx is one of the most recognizable figures in American history, if not the world. His trademark look, glasses, greasepaint mustache and eyebrows, while jostling a cigar between his fingers, has become so iconic that the 'look' (aka Groucho glasses) has been sold in joke stores and gag shops around the world. Even though the man passed away in 1977, Frank Ferrante has brought him back to life in 'An Evening with Groucho' and the show was sold out quickly!

Frank Ferrante (known to Teatro ZinZanni fans as the Latin lover, 'The Caesar') took to the stage and sat behind a small vanity mirror. He started applying the simplistic greasepaint and told a story about his role model and inspiration, Groucho. He proceeded to tell a second story, and by the time he was finished, one of the clearest facsimiles of the classic comic stood before us on stage. He leapt from his seat immediately going into the role of Captain Spalding and singing the theme song, 'Hello, I Must be Going.' For the next 90 minutes (two hours with intermission), Groucho Marx was alive and well, performing underneath the Teatro ZinZanni Spiegeltent.

Sharing stories from his entire career, a journey spanning over 60 years, Groucho entertained the audience and held them captive. He spoke of Minnie, his 'show business' mother as well as her brother Al Sheen, who was half of the famous vaudeville team Gallagher and Sheen. Stories of his brothers Chico, Harpo, Zeppo and Gummo were recalled, including how each got their now famous nicknames. And, of course, the acerbic wit and brilliant comic timing (to say nothing of his energy level) that made Groucho famous came through with full playful jabs and interactions with the audience. Songs and skits were presented from the Broadway productions and the many films that starred the Marx Brothers. Anecdotes were retold giving the audience a plethora of examples as to why Groucho earns the title of 'The One and Only.'

Frank Ferrante evokes the spirit of Groucho with such ease, it is eerie to see his representation on stage. Mr. Ferrante's timing is sharp and his energy seems completely boundless, as he leaps across the stage, while telling a joke, and mugging the audience with one of Groucho's many classical expressions. To recreate an iconic comic to such perfection would take a lifetime of dedication and accomplishment; lucky for us Frank Ferrante has done just that, and his loving homage to this brilliant man hits the jackpot and pays off. It is easy to see why Arthur Marx, Groucho's son, personally chose Mr. Ferrante to continue on the legacy.

While 'An Evening With Groucho' is predominantly a one-man-show, there are two other main players; the piano player and the show's director. The assisting piano player is the talented Mark Rabe. Mr. Rabe does an excellent job providing musical accompaniment as well as playing the 'silent, straight man' of the act. Seattle audiences will immediately recognize Mr. Rabe from his many performances with The 5th Avenue and Showtunes theatre companies among other venues. The director of the show is Dreya Weber. Another familiar veteran of Teatro ZinZanni, Ms. Weber is behind the scenes instead of performing her astonishingly breath-taking aerial ballet. Ms. Weber uses the sharp insight she's gained as a performer to direct the incredibly gregarious Frank Ferrante, and does a highly impressive job of it.

'An Evening With Groucho' is based on an earlier incarnation of the show entitled, 'Groucho: A Life in Review.' The earlier version was written by Arthur Marx. 'Groucho: A Life in Review' also stars Frank Ferrante and is available on DVD from Amazon.

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