“An Evening With Groucho” Presented by The Central Heating Lab at ACT

If you’re a fan of the Marx Brothers movies, if you love Groucho, or just want a good laugh, get over to ACT where he’s alive and well. Frank Ferrante transforms himself into Groucho right on stage, and once the transformation is made, there’s no doubting that the real Groucho is there.

Twenty-five years ago Groucho’s son saw Ferrante, then a University of Southern California drama student, play the comic master and hired him for an off Broadway review featuring Groucho. Ferrante has been delighting audiences as Groucho ever sinceā€”in London, New York, Los Angeles, and every major city in between.

With the trademark cigar and glasses, the black baggy suit, the sooty eyebrows and mustache, the energetic leaps and exaggerated walk, Ferrante launches into Groucho’s old jokes, songs, vaudeville bits, and life history. He ad-libs throughout, and chats with audience members in the zany way that Groucho interacted with the contestants on his quiz show, “You Bet Your Life.” Ferrante is remarkably adept at the audience exchanges, displaying exactly the quick wit that was Groucho’s hallmark.

He reminisces about his family, his four brothers, growing up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan at the turn of the 20th Century. He resurrects bits from his vaudeville years and his movies. He tells behind-the-scenes-stories about Louis B. Mayer, the all powerful movie mogul, and friends like Charlie Chaplin and his large bosomed foil Margaret Dumont. It’s biography, history, performance, and spontaneous witticisms.

Mark Rabe, one of Seattle’s top musical talents, plays piano for Groucho, and makes his music match the wit. The whole evening is monkey business of the best sort.

Through June 30 at ACT’s Bullitt Cabaret, 700 Union St., Seattle (206 292-7676 or www.acttheatre.org).

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