|Frank Ferrante photo provided by A.C.T. Theatre|
The Cabaret offered a cozy setting with small tables and chairs as well as rows of seats. The stage held a piano along with 1930s furnishings and props, all positioned in front of a tied-back red velvet curtain. Jazz Age music added to the ambiance, as did images of the Marx Brothers and reproductions of their movie posters. The first person who took to the stage was Musical Director Jim Furmston. He not only played the straight man to Ferrante's Groucho, but also played the piano with impressive skill and great dynamics, whether featured on a solo piece, accompanying a song, or adding special effects.
|Frank Ferrante and Jim Furmston on Piano photo provided by A.C.T. Theatre|
Ferrante appeared with some fanfare and introduced himself and his show. Dressed in his signature tails and tie, but without makeup, he then sat down in front of a small mirror to create the character of Groucho right in front of us. But as he rose to his feet, it seemed that some kind of magical transformation had taken place inside of him as well. Instead of Ferrante, we saw the familiar wavy-haired, cigar-carrying man who wore wire-rimed glasses and black greasepaint for a mustache and eyebrows, who rudely joked, made funny facial expressions, cavorted across the stage, and sang silly songs like "Lydia the Tattooed Lady." I couldn't believe it wasn't the real Groucho, and I wondered if Ferrante himself even knew for sure if he still was himself, after having so eerily channeled the spirit that inspired him. When he told stories of Groucho's life—in Groucho's true voice—the actor disappeared and the character's real past became our equally real present.
For tickets and show times, please visit the A.C.T. website by clicking here: http://www.acttheatre.org/Tickets/OnStage/AnEveningwithGroucho
Copyright 2012 Candace J. Brown