Well, there was a lot going on in Marxfest, and I knew the full production in the New York International Fringe Festival was coming up so here I am announcing it NOW!
I’ll Say She Is was the the Marx Brothers’ first Broadway show. Its opening, in 1924 was what finally put the team on the map after 20 years in vaudeville. Vaudeville fans knew them of course — but not the highbrows who only patronized “legit” theatre. The show got them their first major reviews by critics like Alexander Woollcott, which led to majorly long runs, which led to movie deals, which led to US knowing who the Marx Brothers were, and loving their work. (Don’t know who the Marx Brothers were? Only the greatest stage and screen comedy team of the 20th century. Read all about them here).
Unlike the Marx Brothers’ second and third Broadway shows The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers, I’ll Say She Is was never made into a movie, and has never been revived. It has not been seen by the public in 90 years! Consequently it has become one of the Holy Grails of classic comedy fans, and a part of the Marx Brothers’ lore. It is quite literally a legendary show — people know OF it, but they don’t know the thing itself first hand.
This is partly because the show was in part a revue, and there’s been no single, definitive easy-to-lay-your-hands-on script for producers to dust off and work on. It was a potpourri of sketches from the Marx Brothers’ vaudeville act, combined with new material by writer Will B. Johnstone, and songs by Johnstone and his brother Tom…plus specialties, such as dance numbers, and so forth. Thanks to the scholarship, dramaturgy, and deft craftsmanship of Noah Diamond (who also plays — nails, actually — Groucho), along with the assistance of Will’s great-grand-daughter Meg Farrell (and a helping hand from West Hyler), we now have a workable reconstruction of the show.
By the way, I’m one of those classic comedy geeks I mentioned. I’ve known about I’ll Say She Is since I was a teenager, so it is the thrill of a lifetime to be associated with this historic project at all, let alone being entrusted with its direction. We take our mission with high seriousness, and have left no stone unturned in assembling the greatest cast and crew possible (and we did indeed locate some of them living underneath rocks):
Groucho: Noah Diamond
Harpo: Seth Shelden
Chico: Robert Pinnock
Zeppo: Aristotle Stamat
The Beauty: Melody Jane
Mrs. Mintworth: Kathy Biehl
Detective: Glen Heroy
Simpson: C.L. Weatherstone,
Agent: Bob Homeyer
and introducing the I’LL SAY SHE IS GIRLS
with musical direction by Sabrina Chap
Artistic Settings by Carolyn Raship
Props/ Costumes by Julianne Kroboth
You want tickets? I mean — yes, you do! You ABSOLUTELY want tickets! They go on sale July 18, and to get them go here: http://www.fringenyc.org/ No need to write that down. I am going to be reminding you. A LOT.
And learn much more about the past and present productions of I’ll Say She Is here.