Heritage Theatre Festival to Present Marx Brothers Classic Musical "The Cocoanuts"

Acclaimed Actor, Director and Writer and World’s Foremost Groucho Marx Interpreter Frank Ferrante Returns To Star In and Direct Tour-De-Farce Musical From George S. Kaufman and Irving Berlin

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – June 28, 2018 – Strap in, folks…things are about to get wild over at Heritage Theatre Festival with the classic Marx Brothers musical The Cocoanuts – coming to the Culbreth Theatre from July 20-29.

Frank Ferrante, an award-winning actor, writer, director, and the world’s foremost Groucho Marx interpreter, returns to Heritage to direct and star in this uproarious romp that finds Groucho and his hilariously hapless brothers at their pun-wielding, prat-falling, gut-busting best. The 1925 musical, written by George S. Kaufman with music from Irving Berlin, finds Groucho at the helm of a fourth-rate 1920’s Florida hotel where he does his very best to swindle gullible tourists with shady land deals. Along the way, Groucho, with the help of brothers Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo, maneuvers through romantic and comedic misadventures while aiming his legendary sharp wit straight at the heart of high society. The Cocoanuts is a deliciously silly musical that is perfect for the whole family!

The Cocoanuts will be presented in the Culbreth Theatre from Friday, July 20 through Sunday, July 29. A preview performance will be presented on Thursday, July 19. Shows will be at 7:30 each evening with 2PM matinees on Sunday, July 22; Saturday, July 28; and Sunday, July 29. Tickets begin at only $15.00 and are available at the UVA Arts Box Office (located in the lobby of the Drama Building), online at www.heritagetheatrefestival.org or by phone at 434-924-3376. Season subscriptions are also available until July 1.

Ferrante, who wowed Heritage audiences in 2014 with his internationally-acclaimed one-man show An Evening with Groucho, is thrilled to be back in Charlottesville. “I love it here. I feel so welcomed and there is such enthusiasm about Heritage Theatre Festival. It makes you want to rise to the occasion and deliver in a big way.”

The show, he said, aims its satirical barbs in multiple directions. “In a way it is a sendup of musical comedies of the 1920’s. It is a very, very over-the-top, energetic  take on the musical with a fast-moving and outrageously funny book from George S. Kaufman, one of the greatest playwrights and directors of the 20th Century, and a peppy Irving Berlin score featuring the great standard tune ‘Always’.”

The show is a can’t miss opportunity for Marx Brothers fans, Ferrante said, but has an appeal that transcends knowledge of the all-time great clown princes of stage and screen. “Whether you know the Marx Brothers or not, this show is an absolute blast. They were such incredible comedic minds and performers, and so beloved – among the funniest people our country has ever produced.  This show is absolutely joyous to perform, and feels particularly timely given the fact that I think we all can benefit these days from some good old fashioned laughter.”

In classic Marx Brother style, the show will add a healthy dose of improvisation to the scripted proceedings. “The Marx Brothers were always improvising,” Ferrante said. “So there will definitely be some interplay with the audience and some improvised moments sprinkled throughout the evening. The great thing about a show like this is that no two performances are ever the same, which is something you don’t get in a traditional musical. As an audience member, you want to be exhilarated and you want to have your breath taken away, and The Cocoanuts really delivers on that.”

Joining Ferrante will be a stellar cast made up of actors from around the country and right here in Charlottesville, including Matt Roper as Chico; Seth Shelden as Harpo; Kevin Kent in the classic Marx Brothers’ foil Margaret Dumont role of Mrs. Potter; Lydia Flock as Trixie; Alisa Ledyard as Coco; Daniel Kingsley as Nate; Sam Reeder as Zeppo; Dreya Weber as Penelope Martin;  Jim Moscater as Harvey Yates; Ainsley Seiger as Polly Potter; and Timothy Read as Detective Hennessy.

The 2018 Heritage Theatre Festival season, dedicated to the memory of David W. Weiss, a founder of Heritage Theatre Festival and former Chair of the Department of Drama, also includes the beloved musical A Chorus Line (June 21-July 1); the classic Harvey (July 6-15) and Katori Hall’s moving and mystical reimagining of the last night of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., The Mountaintop (July 26-August 5).

Free parking for all Heritage Theatre Festival performances is available at the Culbreth Road Parking Garage, conveniently located alongside the theaters.