Animal Crackers Review - Shtick to the Script

The Animal Crackers highly irregulars

Chaos. Music. Anarchy. Dancing. Romance. Clowning. Suspense.  Hilaria.  These are the top ten reasons to see Animal Crackers. Did you notice?  It has already been held over until November 1!  It just opened.  And what an opening!

Did I forget the dancing girls? Harpo didn't!

Director Henry Wishcamper worked a small miracle.  If you don’t believe me, rent the movie. We couldn’t watch it to the end. But Chicago audiences are regaled with stunning new jokes, subtle plot twists, sight gags, outstanding music, crazy-comical-confusing relationships, two gorgeous sets—and knockout performances from nine comic actors including one masterful shoe-thief clown, each of whom play up to five characters.

The silly, flimsy plot (“This isn’t O’Neill, you know.” Grouch quips.) revolves (and I do mean revolves!) around a stolen painting and the Marx brothers concerted (did I say that?) efforts (honk!) to find it. You’ll love it! (honk!) Your children will love it! (honk!)

Joey Slotnick (Groucho) "Do you mind if I don't smoke?"

You bet your life it's funny. Joey Slotnick, who doesn’t look anything like Groucho until he’s made up, leads the antics as the African explorer Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding—and succeeds in out-Grouchoing  Groucho. He has those needy, searching, shifty eyes, the loping. sloping walk and that sly, conniving smile. When one of the actors dropped a line, like Groucho, Joey stepped right up with “Does anybody have a script?”

But Slotnick would have to move pretty fast to get ahead of Molly Brennan’s girl-chasing, fast thieving Professor ( Harpo).  What’s he a professor of?  Why doesn’t he talk? Why does he have fish in his pockets? (honk!)

The Professor (Harpo) by Molly Brennan

Jonathan Brody, Emanuel Ravelli ( Chico) is such a marvelous fast-playing, multi-tasking pianist, it almost overshadows his comical stunts; and the orchestra is so integrated into each scene, you never know when they’ll come up with a surprise.

Emanuel Ravelli (Chico)plays us for all he's worth

Also featured in the ensemble cast are Ora Jones as Mrs. Rittenhouse; Jessie Mueller as Grace Carpenter; Tony Yazbeck as Wally Winston; Mara Davi as Arabella Rittenhouse; Ed Kross as Horatio Jamison as Zeppo; and Stanley Wayne Mathis as Hives.

It tricky-to-impossible to keep the characters straight because they keep us too entertained to keep track. Don't miss this crazy, mixed-up evening of theater!

Somehow we ended up in France!

Tickets to Animal Crackers ($25 – $76) are currently on sale at Tickets can also be purchased at the box office (170 North Dearborn) or by phone at 312.443.3800. Mezztix are half-price mezzanine tickets available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10am online (promo code MEZZTIX) day of performance; Mezztix are not available by telephone. 10Tix are $10 mezzanine tickets for students available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10am online on the day of performance; 10Tix are not available by telephone. Valid student I.D. must be presented when picking up the tickets. Limit four per student with I.D. All tickets are subject to availability and handling fees apply. Discounted Group Tickets for 10 persons or more are available at 312.443.3820.

Visit the Goodman virtually: watch artist interviews at; catch the latest news from rehearsal on the Goodman’s Blog,; peek behind-the-scenes at; and Friend us at

About Goodman Theatre
Named the country's "Best Regional Theatre" by Time magazine (2003), Goodman Theatre is a leader in the American theater, internationally recognized for its artists, productions and educational programs since its founding in 1925. Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer's forward-thinking leadership has earned the Goodman unparalleled artistic distinction, garnered hundreds of awards-including the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre (1992) and Pulitzer Prizes for Ruined by Lynn Nottage and Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet--and moved dozens of plays from Chicago to stages in New York and abroad.

Photos: Eric Y. Exit for Goodman Theater

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