He Left His Marx

The word “impersonator” does not always have positive connotations, bringing to mind sweaty fat men in pompadours and rhinestone-studded white karate suits, puffing up the stairs and presiding over drunk weddings.

Frank Ferrante is not that kind of impersonator. Sure, his act is called An Evening With Groucho and essentially consists of Ferrante slipping into the Groucho Marx persona — but Ferrante doesn’t just “impersonate” Marx, he channels him. “I’ve done it for so long that it’s in me,” Ferrante says of the show, which has been going since 1984. “I don’t even review the material anymore. I do a vocal warm-up and stretch before a show, and that’s basically all that’s required of me at this point; I can fit into it like a glove.”

Which he’d need to: While the show incorporates classic bits, one-liners and numbers from old Groucho routines, the real meat of the performance is Ferrante’s effortless riffing, out in the crowd, chomping on that cigar and sticking it to the man — or whatever random audience member happens to catch his eye. “The improvisation gives the show that unknown element, that dangerous element,” notes Ferrante. “That’s why it’s never boring, this show. I never know what’s going to happen.”

Whatever it is, it will happen tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 South Allison Parkway. Tickets are $25; to purchase yours, or for more information, call 303-987-7845 or go to www.lakewood.org/culturalcenter
Fri., Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m., 2010