Groucho Wows the Crowd

by Christine Wiese

People laughed till they cried last weekend at the Clausen Center in Holstein. “An Evening With Groucho” was brash, irreverent, and, at times, just plain crazy. Tux and Tails and a Mustachioed Male – that’s what this show was made of.

Frank Ferrante fairly exploded as Groucho. He leapt on and off the stage; he ran up and down the aisles; he put two bald heads together and said they reminded him of Mae West. He told stories; he sang songs; he waggled his eyebrows and used his cigar as a punctuation mark. In short, he was vaudeville as its looney best.

“I’ve never played Holstein but I’m going to be milking it all night!” opened the show and Ferrante cavorted in the same vein all evening long.

Take for example his running bit with local resident, Marj Rice. He kept trying to make time with her and she kept telling him to go back on stage and get on with his show. At the other end of the age spectrum was high school student, Jacob Biddle who probably has never been offered a cigar before in his life. He got pulled on stage, supplied with extra eyebrows and a mustache, and commenced to flying around in front of the audience two steps behind his Marxian mentor. Right in the middle was Kris Kistenmacher (“Kis-ten-macher….That sounds like my first two marriages!”) who took Jim Furmston’s place at the piano for a minute or two. And then there was the infamous couch that sent up huge puffs of dust the first time Ferrante launched himself on to it. “This could be called ‘An Evening With Coucho'” he quipped to the crowd’s delight.

There was lots more of the same plus stories of the show biz figures he had known back in the day. However, the supreme moment came with his inimitable rendition of “Lydia, The Tattooed Lady”. It went on and on with each verse more hilarious than the one before. Folks were leaning forward in their seats howling with laughter.

I’ve always wanted to say a show was “Boffo!!!”. This one was.