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Frank Ferrante’s ‘An Evening with Groucho’ returns to Chicago on October 26

Actor/director Frank Ferrante returns to his internationally heralded stage performance for one night only in “An Evening With Groucho” on Tuesday, October 26, at the Spiegeltent ZaZou, located on the 14th floor of the Cambria Hotel Chicago Loop (32 W. Randolph St.) Ferrante, who currently plays the comic host “Caesar” in the cirque extravaganza “Teatro Zinzanni” at the same venue, was deemed “nothing short of masterful” by the Chicago Tribune for his role as the legendary comedian, Groucho Marx.

“An Evening With Groucho” is a laugh-filled theatrical portrait of “America’s most gifted funny man” (The New YorkTimes). Written and performed by Ferrante, the two-act comedy with music celebrates the style and spirit of comedian Groucho Marx (1890-1977) whose irreverent humor continues to influence artists. Born the middle son of Jewish immigrants, Groucho Marx never made it past sixth grade, yet for 72 years he exhilarated audiences in every medium–stage, radio, film, books and television.

“Groucho” revels in the legend’s prime complete with greasepaint, keen wit and unbridled comic physicality. The show is equal parts biography, music, pop culture history and stand-up comedy and the result is a riotous romp. “Groucho” sings (“Hooray for Captain Spaulding,” “Lydia The Tattooed Lady,” Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Willow, Tit-Willow,” etc.), dances and relates stories of his brothers, Harpo and Chico and friends Charlie Chaplin, W.C. Fields and poet T.S. Eliot.

What sets “Groucho” apart from any other theater piece is the sheer amount of improvisation. Ferrante as Groucho Marx liberally ad-libs throughout, wending his way through the theater and making his audience part of the show. Written and performed by Ferrante and directed by independent filmmaker Dreya Weber, the production was recently filmed at the two-time Tony Award-winning Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and will be broadcast nationally on PBS in the spring of 2022.

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History/Awards: Performed for 35 years over 3,000 times in more than 500 cities, Ferrante’s “Groucho” played New York Off-Broadway, London’s West End, Los Angeles and Australia. For the role, Ferrante earned the New York Theatre World Award for ‘Outstanding Debut,’ a London Laurence Olivier Award nomination (Tony Award equivalent) for ‘Comedy Performance of the Year,’ a New York Outer Critics Circle nomination, a Washington, D.C., Helen Hayes nomination and two Connecticut Critics Circle Awards.

Frank Ferrante was discovered by Groucho’s son, playwright Arthur Marx, who cast Ferrante when he was 22 to portray the elder Marx from age 15 to 85 in the New York and London premieres of Arthur’s own “Groucho: A Life in Revue.” The show played Off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre during the 1986-87 theatrical season for 254 performances. Frank is the owner of Groucho Marx Productions, Inc.

”Frank doesn’t just do Groucho…he is Groucho.”—Miriam Marx Allen, Groucho’s daughter.

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