Opera House to Present Two Events as Part of “Freedonia Marxonia”
FREDONIA – The 1891 Fredonia Opera House will present two events as part of the State University of New York at Fredonia’s Freedonia Marxonia celebration. “Animal Crackers,” the Marx Brothers’ 1930 classic comedy, will be screened on Thur., Oct. 3, at 7:30 p.m. The following evening, Fri., Oct. 4, noted vaudeville expert Trav S.D. will present an illustrated lecture on The Marx Brothers and Vaudeville at 7:30p.m. Admission to both events is free.
“Animal Crackers” stars the four Marx Brothers – Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo. Groucho plays Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding, the African explorer, who returns from his adventures to great fanfare. The movie includes “Hurray for Captain Spaulding,” and “Hello, I Must Be Going,” two of the songs most associated with Groucho Marx.
It is the Marx Brothers’ second feature film, and is based on their 1928 Broadway musical of the same name. The script was written by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind. Music and lyrics were written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby (who also composed “Hail Freedonia” for the Marx Brother’s 1933 Duck Soup).
The film was presented here in Fredonia 89 years ago during its original October 1930 release at the Winter Garden Theatre, which is now the Opera House.
Immediately prior to its presentation of “Animal Crackers,” the Opera House will screen “The Marx Brothers & The Story of Freedonia Marxonia,” a short film produced by SUNY Fredonia Assistant Professor Mike Igoe and students Natalie Picarazzi and Dylan Jock. The film recently was shown as part of the Silver State Film Festival in Las Vegas, Nev.
The Marx Brothers began their careers in vaudeville, the predominant form of popular entertainment during the late 19th and early 20th centuries; well before the Brothers went on to become comedy stars of Broadway, movies, radio, and television, they spent nearly 20 years performing in vaudeville theaters around the country.
The story of vaudeville’s influences on the Marx Brothers, the Marx Brothers’ own experiences in vaudeville, and vaudeville history in western New York will be presented by writer/performer Trav S.D.
Trav S.D. is the author of No Applause – Just Throw Money: The Book that Made Vaudeville Famous and Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to YouTube. He was an organizer of Marxfest, the 2014 month-long celebration of the Marx Brothers held in New York City. He was a producer of the recent revival of the Marx Brothers’ 1924 musical I’ll Say She Is, and directed its initial reading and 2014 staging at the New York Fringe Festival, before it went on to an Off-Broadway run in 2016.
He has written for The New York Times, The Village Voice, and American Theatre. He created and maintains the blog Travalanche, a rich source of information about entertainers, including the Marx Brothers. He wrote the liner notes for the upcoming Archeophone Records CD containing sketches of the pioneering vaudeville comedy team, Weber and Fields.
Trav S.D’s appearance in Fredonia is supported through the Fredonia College Foundation’s Carnahan-Jackson Humanities Fund and the Hahn Family Freedonia Marxonia Fund. The Hahn Family funds Freedonia Marxonia, the annual festival that celebrates the Marx Brothers and their 1933 movie Duck Soup, set in “Freedonia.”
The 1891 Fredonia Opera House is a member-supported not-for-profit organization located in Village Hall in downtown Fredonia. A complete schedule of Opera House events is available at http://www.fredopera.org