THEATER: “Animal Crackers” and its Crazy Marx Brothers Antics at Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray
Larry Murray: Hooray for Jenny Gersten and the Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) for opening their third season with an outrageous musical, “Animal Crackers.” The original Marx Brothers Broadway hit was made into the film just about everyone has seen. The modern day actors who play the Marx Brothers get away with some of the most outrageous antics ever seen on a Berkshire stage, and made me surrender my staid composure.
Gail M.Burns: Actually, in these days of small cast comedies where a handful of actors play a variety of roles – such as “The Hound of the Baskervilles” – I think we have seen Marxian zaniness on local stages in recent years, but not their level of anarchy. There was no fourth wall for the Marx Brothers, sometimes I don’t think there was even a floor! It would be just like Harpo to roll it up and put it in his pocket in the middle of a big dance number.
Larry: Many people read the first few lines of a review like this and assume that the whole show is a send-up of the hilarious Groucho, Chico and Harpo, plus Zeppo, but this is no gag-every-second show, it has some beautiful songs and great dancing in it as well. The plot is often looney-tunes but the book has many subplots that don’t involve the famous Captain Spaulding, but reporters, society types and artists.