America's Oldest · Founded 1808

Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Marx Brothers at Walnut Street Theatre with GROUCHO: A LIFE IN REVUE

January 26, 2024

PHILADELPHIA, PA: Celebrate the 100th anniversary of The Marx Brothers' historic three-month run at the Walnut with this hilarious and moving tribute to 'The Kings of Comedy.' Original New York and London’s Olivier Award-nominated star and Walnut favorite Frank Ferrante along with a versatile cast take you from The Marx Brothers' earliest days in vaudeville to film, stage, radio, and television stardom. This spirited musical comedy features classic songs and chronicles the remarkable rags-to-riches story of America's funniest entertainer. Starting February 13, GROUCHO: A LIFE IN REVUE is a must-see for anyone who loves to laugh!

One hundred years ago, the legendary Marx Brothers performed their musical-comedy revue, I’LL SAY SHE IS, at Walnut Street Theatre. The engagement ran from June 4th through September 1st, 1923 and to this day holds the record for the Walnut’s longest running show. The following spring, after a national tour, the brothers returned to the Walnut for three weeks. On May 19th, 1924, two days after the Philadelphia closing, Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo Marx debuted I’LL SAY SHE IS on Broadway.

Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx was a 20th century American comedian, actor, singer, writer, game show host, and vaudeville star. His trademark look—thick glasses, mustache, and greasepaint eyebrows—is a recognizable costume staple. Dubbed “Groucho Glasses,” these one-piece masks consisting of a plastic nose, black glasses, and fake mustache and eyebrows are only part of Groucho Marx’s legacy. In addition to his solo work, Groucho performed with his brothers, appearing as “the Marx Brothers” on stage and on screen. With 14 feature films to their name, the Marx Brothers are considered among the most influential comedians of the 20th century. GROUCHO: A LIFE IN REVUE, written by Groucho Marx’s son Arthur Marx and Robert Fisher, is a tribute to the life and career of one of America’s greatest comedians.

Bringing Groucho to life as director and star of the show is Walnut favorite and lifelong Groucho devotee FRANK FERRANTE. Ferrante starred as Groucho in the show’s 1987 off-Broadway debut, marking the beginning of a decades-long career portraying the inimitable comedian. Described by The New York Times as "the greatest living interpreter of Groucho Marx's material," Ferrante first appeared on the Walnut mainstage 31 years ago in a production of GROUCHO: A LIFE IN REVUE and has since become a Walnut fan favorite, directing and acting in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors, and Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor (1997 & 2017). Music and vocal direction will be provided by Walnut staple GEOFFREY LANGLEY, whose credits at WST include The Wizard of Oz; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Mamma Mia!; Shrek the Musical; and, most recently, Elvis - A Musical Revolution.

Making his Walnut debut as both Harpo and Chico, the two brothers who formed the core of the Marx Brothers’ comedic act with Groucho, is MATT ROPER. The British-born actor is known for his comedic presence and has appeared in several adaptations of Marx Brothers’ material, including a production of The Cocoanuts with Frank Ferrante. Returning to the Walnut as a Freedonian citizen and the off-stage voice of Lee Shubert and others is DAVE JOHNSON, who last appeared at WST in a production of Shipwrecked. Rounding out the cast and appearing as a variety of roles, from chorus girls to Groucho’s wives to Margaret Dumont, is DREYA WEBER, who made her Walnut debut in A Comedy of Tenors. Weber is no stranger to the Marx Brothers, having directed the stage and film versions of Frank Ferrante‘s Groucho.

Capturing the essence of the 20th century theatre experience, complete with a replica of the wooden eagle that graced the proscenium arch when the Marx Brothers took the Walnut stage 100 years ago, is Set Designer DAVID P. GORDON. Gordon, who previously designed the WST productions of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Trilogy, Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor, and Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors, will be joined by Lighting Designer and WST Technical Supervisor MATT DEMASCOLO (Beehive The 60’s Musical; Jimmy Buffet’s Escape to Margaritaville; Disney's Beauty and the Beast) and veteran Sound Designer CHRISTOPHER COLUCCI (A Comedy of Tenors; Peter and the Starcatcher; Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?). San Francisco based Costume Designer DEBRA BEAVER BAUER and Wig Designer CLAIRE WAID (Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) will be costuming the cast for a range of decades, from 1905 to 1975.

GROUCHO: A LIFE IN REVUE runs at the Walnut from February 13 to March 10, 2024. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.com.

JUST THE FACTS

WHAT: GROUCHO: A LIFE IN REVUE

WHEN: February 13 – March 10, 2024

PRESS OPENING NIGHT: Wednesday, February 21 at 7pm

WHERE: Walnut Street Theatre

825 Walnut Street

Philadelphia, PA 19107

TICKETS: Prices vary by performance and start at just $25

Premium Tickets available for $175 (includes a tax-deductible donation)

CURTAIN: Tuesday – Thursday evenings at 7:30pm (2/13 – 3/7) *

Special Opening Night performance at 7pm (2/21)

Friday evenings at 8pm (2/16 – 3/8)

Saturday evenings at 8pm (2/17 – 3/9)

Sunday evenings at 7pm (2/18, 2/25)

Wednesday matinees at 2pm (2/28, 3/6)

Thursday matinees at 2pm (2/29, 3/7)

Saturday matinees at 2pm (2/17 – 3/9)

Sunday matinees at 2pm (2/18 – 3/10)

*No performance Tuesday 3/5

PHONE: 215-574-3550

WEBSITE: walnutstreettheatre.org or ticketmaster.com

PRODUCTION AND DESIGN TEAM

Directed & Choreographed by: FRANK FERRANTE

Scenic Design: DAVID P. GORDON

Costume Designer: DEBRA BEAVER BAUER

Lighting Design: MATT DEMASCOLO

Sound Design: CHRISTOPHER COLUCCI

Wig Design: CLAIRE WAID

Music Director: GEOFFREY LANGLEY

STAGE MANAGERS: MICHELE BEGLEY and ABBY STURGIS

THE CAST

Groucho Marx: FRANK FERRANTE *

Harpo/Chico: MATT ROPER*

Citizen of Freedonia: DAVE JOHNSON*

The Women: DREYA WEBER*

UNDERSTUDIES

THOMAS ROBERT IRVIN (Groucho Marx), CHARLIE NICOLINI (Harpo/Chico), JAMES OFALT (Citizen of Freedonia), EMMIE PARKER (The Women), THOMAS SMITH (Citizen of Freedonia)

 *Denotes membership in Actors' Equity Association, the professional union of Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Our 2024-2025 Season starts October 1. Now is the time to subscribe and avoid disappointment by guaranteeing your seats today. Thousands were turned away from the Walnut's record-breaking run of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The 2024-25 season includes: Jersey Boys, Elf the Musical, Driving Miss Daisy, Noël Coward’s Hay Fever, and Dreamgirls.

Subscriptions are available now for as little as $26 per show – up to a 70% savings off regular ticket prices! For information on season subscriptions, call the Walnut at 215-574-3550 ext. 6, or visit our website at WalnutStreetTheatre.org.

All show titles, dates, and prices are subject to change.