I have been a big Marx Brothers fan since I first watched Groucho working his magic on TV's "You Bet Your Life." I always wanted to meet the man himself, but unlike Frank Ferrante, I never got the opportunity. Now, I have been able to experience the next best thing in Frank Ferrante's amazing one-man show "An Evening With Groucho." The show is back in Seattle at the ACT Theatre for the third summer, and Ferrante continues to go through what appears to be an extremely challenging physical workout while entertaining audiences as Groucho.
Ferrante has been performing as Groucho for thirty years, and he pulls it off night after night regardless of the audience. When I attended last night, the crowd only numbered about a hundred, but Ferrante / Groucho held court over us in a Don Rickles like manner just as Groucho would have done.
In addition to the ongoing shtick and banter with audience members, Ferrante is a great song and dance man. He can do the Groucho walk and other moves as if he were a young man. He also tells the heartwarming stories of the Marx Brothers rise to success while bringing out the individual character of each of the five brothers. (Yes, there were five Marx Brothers -- Groucho, Chico, Harpo and the lesser known Gummo and Zeppo.)
Ferrante is well known to many Seattle theatre patrons as he also portrays Caesar at Teatro ZinZanni. Several years ago, I first saw him perform as Caesar, and I immediately noticed that his shtick with audience members was very much like Groucho. Only after reading the program that night did I learn of Ferrante's passion for all things Groucho and of his unique one-man show.
Anyone who appreciates good comedy will love "An Evening With Groucho" as it is performed in ACT's intimate Bullitt Cabaret Theatre. Since it's a general admission ticket, arriving early will get you the best seat in the house. Of course, if you decide that the best seat is up front, don't be surprised if you find yourself becoming part of the show as Groucho is continually wandering out into the audience to interact with anyone and everyone.