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Animal Crackers coming to Goodman Theatre

Animal CrackersGoodman Theatre launches its new 2009/2010 Season with tap dancing, acrobatics, tumbling, guitar- and ukulele-playing in an original take on the rarely-produced Marx Brothers classic musical Animal Crackers, written by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind, with music and lyrics by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby. For the Goodman's revival of this family-friendly farce, Director Henry Wishcamper has restored a wealth of material originally cut from the 1928 Library of Congress version of the script; Chicago audiences will be treated to never-before experienced jokes, subtle plot twists, music, relationship detail- and virtuosic performances from nine of the country's leading comic actors, each of whom play up to five characters.

"Henry Wishcamper, fresh from his first Goodman success with Horton Foote's Talking Pictures, approached me with the idea to stage Animal Crackers at the Goodman- but with one major conceptual change," said Artistic Director Robert Falls. "The dozens of society swells, butlers, attendants and miscellaneous party guests written into the original script would be played by an ensemble of just nine actors, in order to ramp up the farcical madness and underscore the comic heart of the play. It was an irresistible idea, and I know that Henry and his energetic cast and collaborators will bring contemporary vitality to what is now considered a classic in the musical farce genre."

Wishcamper enlisted two-time Tony Award-nominated choreographer John Carrafa and Clowning Director Paul Kalina of Chicago's 500 Clown to supply the company with the tools needed for inspired comic performances. Musical Director Doug Peck leads a live orchestra of five that brings to life favorites such as "Hello, I Must Be Going/Hooray For Captain Spaulding," "Who's Been Listening to My Heart" and "Show Me A Rose," among many others.

"Our production will be dynamic and surprising, but at the same time will maintain the Marx Brothers' integrity," said Wishcamper. "Bring the kids! The spontaneity and excitement of musical theater are perfect for families, and audiences of all ages should experience a show like this. As was its original production, Animal Crackers today remains an extraordinary antidote for the times we live in."

Animal Crackers runs September 18 - October 25, 2009 in the Goodman's Albert Theatre. Tickets ($25 $76) are now on sale 312-443-3800 or

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