The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


October 18, 2012

Marx Brother’s Weekend in Lewisburg will be just ducky

LEWISBURG — Down in the dumps? Looking for some laughs? Mark your calendar, slap on your best glad-rags and head on over to The Campus Theatre this weekend for “A Night at the Opera” and some hilarious “Duck Soup.”

Don’t, however, expect to experience a cultural and culinary soiree. Instead, get ready for the crazy antics of Groucho, Harpo and Chico in all their cinematic glory.

“The Marx Brothers’ films are packed with slapstick and obvious jokes, gags, puns, pratfalls and mimicry. But beneath the laughs is a serious commentary of American culture,” said Ellen Flacker-Darer, executive director at The Campus Theatre. “In a world glutted with comedy programs, the Marx Brothers best work is still astonishing for its velocity, aggression and bursts of surrealism.”

The fun begins Friday evening, Oct. 19, with a free screening of the 1933 classic “Duck Soup” which is widely regarded as the brother’s best film. The screening will be preceded by a panel of humanities experts discussing the highlights of the Marx brother’s history in Vaudeville; movies and American culture.

On Saturday, Oct. 20, the highpoint of the weekend will be a screening of the classic 1935 film “A Night at the Opera,” which is a ticketed fundraising event with an opera theme for the theater and will feature a reception, multiple vaudeville acts and light hors d’oeuvres. Guests are encouraged to imagine themselves at the opera in 1935 and dress to the nines or even 10s so they can sip champagne in style while watching the Marx Brothers wreak havoc on the opera society.

The fun concludes on Sunday, Oct. 21, with a special presentation when the RiverStage Community Theatre of Milton recreate two episodes of “Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel,” a live radio program of 1933 that starred Chico and Groucho Marx

The production will be recorded for later broadcast on WVIA.

“In three days you’ll experience the Marx Brothers in three of the venues they mastered: the stage, film and radio,” she said. “And you will do it all in The Campus Theatre, a theater built when the Marx Brothers were still making movies.”

The Marx Brothers starred in more than 15 films and gave the theater staff a difficult task of narrowing those films down to only two.

“Duck Soup” was selected as their best from their Paramount years while “A Night at the Opera” is considered their best MGM film,” Flacker-Darer said. “We expect a fair number of folks who grew up with Groucho, but we also expect a younger crowd, including college kids, because, you know, the Marx Brothers are always cool.”

And cool they are.

Groucho was widely acknowledged as the best verbal comic in the business and his older brother Harpo ranked with the great silent-movie comedians as a persona and gagman. Holding these two disparate talents together was Chico, the eldest brother whose character fluctuated between extreme cunning and epic stupidity.

“Besides just enjoying two fabulous, classic films, this weekend is an opportunity to consider historical events, political practices, economic conditions, manners and customs, literary subjects and popular entertainment as satirized in the Marx brothers’ films and consider the ways in which their films were relevant in their era and remain so today,” Flacker-Darer said.


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