“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know.” It’s vaudevillian lines like this, uttered famously by Groucho Marx as Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding in the Marx Brothers classic Animal Crackers, that let you know you’re not anyplace even resembling modern Broadway. But if it seems like a stretch for the Denver Center Theatre Company to revive the 1928 Marx Brothers extravaganza nearly ninety years after it debuted on Broadway, think again: The screwball gem hits the Stage Theatre in contemporary times, beginning tonight at 7:30 p.m. for a season-ending run through May 11, and it’s going to be pure genius.
“The show itself incorporates so many different styles of music and movement and dance, and that makes it exciting and fun,” says choreographer Christine Rowan, who admits she didn’t know much about the Marx Brothers to begin with, but has “fallen in love with their style of crazy, loony comedy.” Rowan adds that Animal Crackers has a whole party bag of choreographic challenges: “There’s the straight vaudeville, a tap-dancing number, traditional musical theater, a big Charleston number, and, also, a true reflection of the 1920s and 1930s style of nightclub music. It just covers the gamut of just about everything you could do dance-wise.”
And the acting, she notes, puts it over the top: “All the guys playing the Marx Brothers? It’s uncanny how fabulous they are at it. Not a minute goes by when you won’t be laughing.”
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Animal Crackers opens tonight at the Stage in the Denver Performing Arts Complex; for tickets, starting at $35, go to denvercenter.org or call 303-893-4100.
Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 1:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. Starts: April 4. Continues through May 11, 2014