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'Lost' Marx Brothers Musical, Not Seen for 90 Years, in Revival at NY Fringe This Summer

By Jon Sobel j.sobel@classicalite.com on May 24, 2014 08:41 PM EDT

We've just learned that I'll Say She Is, the Marx Brothers' first Broadway musical, will receive a staged revival this summer at the New York Fringe Festival. The loosely-plotted revue, which unlike its follow-ups The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers was never made into a movie, has not been seen on stage in any form since 1924.

As we reported in April, the show has been reconstructed from sources including composer Will B. Johnstone's 1923 rehearsal typescript (housed at the Library of Congress), other material from extant scenes, newspaper clippings, master Marxman Noah Diamond's "own Marxist intuition" and other sources. Last night it got its first staged reading, with costuming and music, at the Players Theater as part of New York City's monthlong MarxFest. A second reading (plus a panel discussion) is scheduled for Sunday May 25 at 5 PM.

The full production of I'll Say She Is will be presented as part of the NY Fringe Festival in August. It will include much revue material from the original production which was excised for the readings, including the Apache Dance, the Pygmalion ballet, Harpo and Chico's "tramp ballet," and numerous other Harpo routines too elaborate to attempt in a reading.

The Fringe production will feature a larger cast, more chorus girls, and a band. The cast will include many of the members of the company assembled for the MarxFest readings, which includes Mr. Diamond as Groucho, Seth Shelden as Harpo, Robert Pinnock as Chico, Matthew Curiano as Zeppo, Kathy Biehl as Ruby and Melody Jane as Beauty.

Directed by Trav S.D., the production will feature choreography by Helen Burkett of the Pontani Sisters and art design by Carolyn Raship.

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TagsMarx Brothers, Groucho Marx, Pontani Sisters, Fringe, NY Fringe, Fringe Festival, MarxFest