For one show only, Frank Ferrante will perform his acclaimed portrayal of legendary comedian Groucho Marx in Frank Ferrante’s Groucho. The show will take place on the main stage of The Walnut on Saturday, March 12, 2022 at 2 p.m. – the first time The Walnut will perform this matinee show.
Award-winning actor and director Frank Ferrante takes audiences through 90 minutes of pure, fast-paced hilarity. The two-act comedy features Groucho’s best lines, trivia, and songs such as “Hooray for Captain Spalding” and “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady.” Accompanied by his pianist on stage, Ferrante embodies the young Groucho of stage and cinema and makes us reconnect with the Harpo brothers, Chico, Zeppo and Gummo, Charlie Chaplin, WC Fields, etc. The audience becomes part of the show as Ferrante engages them throughout the performance.
As a drama student at the University of Southern California, Ferrante was discovered by Groucho’s son, Arthur Marx. Arthur then wrote Groucho: A Life in Revue and cast Ferrante to create the off-Broadway title role. The show then made its West End debut, earning Ferrante a nomination for the Laurence Olivier Award for “Comedy Performance of the Year”. Ferrante first recreated the stage role of Walnut in the 1992–93 season.
At the Walnut, Frank directed and starred in Walnut Street Theater productions of Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Laughter on The 23rd Floor. He has also done shows such as Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, Broadway Bound and Lost in Yonkers. At Walnut’s Independence Studio on the 3rd, Ferrante wrote and starred in By George and directed the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning Old Wicked Songs. Ferrante continues to perform his comic creation “The Caesar” in circuses/cabarets around the world.
Frank Ferrante’s Groucho is directed by Dreya Weber, who last appeared at The Walnut in Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors. Weber directed Ferrante in long runs of An Evening with Groucho at Seattle’s ACT, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Pasadena Playhouse, Bucks County Playhouse and Cincinnati’s Playhouse in the Park. She recently directed and choreographed Sensatia at the Faena Theater in Miami. An accomplished aerialist, she has designed aerial choreography for PINK’s Glitter in the Air and Try for the Grammys, Michael Jackson’s This is It, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Madonna and Cher.
Gerald Sternbach will accompany Ferrante on stage as a pianist on stage. Sternbach traveled with the show for a time, accompanying Ferrante on extended tours at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Cincinnati’s Playhouse in the Park, and Bucks County Playhouse. An in-demand musical director and accompanist, he has worked with a variety of artists, including Mel Brooks, Carrie Fisher, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett and Josh Groban.
In Walnut history, the Marx Brothers also performed on the Walnut stage. In 1923, during the transition from vaudeville to the legitimate stage, they launched their first show I’ll Say She Is. After critical acclaim at The Walnut, the show toured nationally before opening on Broadway . It was during this show that Groucho’s signature painted mustache was created. Late for a show one night, he used greasepaint instead of a glued-on mustache. He found it a much easier routine and decided to keep it in his routine.
Frank Ferrante’s Groucho will run for a single matinee performance at the Walnut Street Theater on Saturday, March 12 at 2 p.m. Tickets cost between $17 and $37, and VIP tickets, which include a post-show reception, are available for $77. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online at WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.com.
Ninety-five years ago, Groucho Marx performed at the Walnut Street Theater in the Marx Brothers musical I’ll Say She Is. Audiences and critics alike went wild over the Brothers’ irreverent humor, expert pantomime, physical shtick and outrageous musical talent. A local Philadelphia critic said of the show, “It was like a tornado hit the city. We’ve never seen anything like the Marx Brothers.” I will say it moved to Broadway in 1924 and caused an instant sensation legitimizing the Marx Brothers as world class talent. In 1930, Groucho and his brothers moved to Hollywood and changed the face of motion picture comedy forever. They produced Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup, A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races, Room Service, At the Circus, Go West, The Big Store, A Night in Casablanca and Love Happy between 1931 and 1949. As a solo actor, Groucho launched a career in radio and television with his Emmy-winning work as the host of the comedy quiz show “You Bet Your Life.” He became a staple of 1950s television. At age 82, he received a special Academy Award in 1974 for “the brilliant and unequaled achievements of the Marx Brothers”.
Walnut Street Theater continues to work with guidance from the CDC, Pennsylvania Department of Health, and Philadelphia Department of Health to develop the most comprehensive plan to keep patrons, performers, and employees safe.
Guests 5 years of age and older will need to be fully immunized with an FDA or WHO-cleared vaccine to attend a performance and must present proof of vaccination upon entering the theater with their valid ticket. Children under 5 and guests who require reasonable accommodations due to a medical condition or narrow religious belief that precludes vaccination must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test performed in within 72 hours of the performance or a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test taken within 6 hours of the performance. In addition to proof of vaccination, all guests 18 years of age or older must present valid government-issued photo ID. Customers under 18 can also use a school ID card. Guests under 12 must be accompanied by an adult who meets these requirements. For more information, visit WalnutStreetTheatre.org/visit/safety.php.
Everyone in the theater must wear an acceptable face covering at all times, including during the show, except when eating or drinking while seated in Barrymore’s Cafe, located in the Lower Lobby. Barrymore’s Cafe is the only area of the theater where patrons can consume food and drink.