Reviews of shows from the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts and other local venues published by the Los Cerritos Community News. The writer and paper are in their twentieth year of covering these events.

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Location: Fear City, Ca., United States

"My name is Addison DeWitt. My native habitat is the theater. In it I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the theatre - as ants to a picnic, as the boll weevil to a cotton field." George Sanders in "All About Eve"

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Frank Ferrante in An Afternoon with Groucho April 13, 2014

An Afternoon With Groucho in Cerritos

    By Glen Creason

       Many folks in the very-full Sunday matinee performance of “An Afternoon with Groucho” were looking forward to re-connecting to their favorite comedian and re-living many of his funniest moments in a seven decade career that left him in a small handful of greats of American comedy.  Most of us hardly knew just how close that comedian would come to us, including making the audience very much a part of the act. Certainly part of the genius of the television era Groucho was his sharp-witted winning of the people watching from the seats in studio and at home.  The very entertaining show that came to our Cerritos was crafted by the extremely capable and polished hands and feet of Frank Ferrante who has been perfecting this performance piece since the 80’s when he was a drama student at USC. While folks were hungry to hear the old Groucho wit brought back to life, this afternoon show was actually far better than advertised.  This may be the last time I refer to Ferrante as his goal is to make you believe Groucho is back on stage again and the actor does the old and young man proud without being at all sentimental or sappy. Not only does he tell the story of the rise of the Marx brothers in small, colorful vignettes and dialogue from their shows in vaudeville and on the silver screen but he, like his mentor, is a master of ad-libbing.  The Groucho that came to Cerritos on this afternoon was very much in the 90703 and made the city a part of the celebration with hilarious results.  As a matter of fact he made the audience very important participants in the fun that included scolding a reviewer for taking such pathetic notes. Guilty as charged Julius.

     Fans did get to enjoy the great bon-mots from the films and heard the songs every Marx brothers aficionado know by heart like “Hello I Must Be Going,” “Everyone Says I Love You,” “Lydia the Tattooed Lady,” “Tit-willow” “Omaha Nebraska” and “Hooray for Captain Spaulding” which “Groucho” crooned in his very strong voice. Ferrante also used his physical comedy gifts to set up gags and make the Performing Arts stage like another scene from one of the classic Marx Brothers films. Yet, the very best bits in the show came from the superb timing and asides that were so essentially Groucho. It made you long to see this Groucho back at the mike of “You Bet Your Life” and when he bantered with the folks in the front row and a kid named Quentin you got a glimpse of the very true genius of one of America’s national treasures.