Performed on stage, this (mostly) one-man show gives us the story of Groucho Marx, told in the first person, from his early days in Vaudeville, through his many movie performances, to his later days as a star of radio and television. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <email@example.com>
I just watched a VHS of this play from HBO after watching Groucho:A Life In Revue starring Frank Ferrante.and BOTH have their pluses and minuses.For one thing, as one reviewer said on target, Gabe Kaplan is not a very.good actor, but in the scenes as the older Groucho, Kaplan is actually better than Ferrante in both voice and manner. Michael Tucci is perfectly cast as Chico. Unfortunately, Harpo is reduced to a horn offstage.and a harp with no harpist. The set on this HBO show is not as well dressed as the Ferrante set either.
Another thing that drove me a little nuts was how Kaplan get going back and forth on the pronunciation of Chico' s name often incorrectly pronouncing it Cheek-oh instead of Chick-oh!
The actress Connie Danese plays several roles and is quite good except as Margaret Dumont. The actress in the Ferrante production does better here.as well.
I like the way Ferrante captured many more of Groucho' s persona in terms of physical actions many times recreating perfectly all the usual trademarks from the classic Marx Brother movies. Kaplan does none of these save for the stooped Groucho walk. Just watching Frank Ferrante make the make-up changes on stage in front of your eyes is a delight as well as a revelation. Plus the actor playing Chico in that production, while not having as much a resemblance as did Michael Gucci,but he did all the business both Chico and Harpo did in character.
Overall, the HBO Kaplan version is somewhat inferior to the Ferrante presentation.
Both are worth viewing, but I recommend seeing the Ferrante DVD first.
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