I'LL SAY SHE IS Opened 92 Years Ago Today; Revival to Begin May 28 Off-Broadway
I'LL SAY SHE IS, the legendary musical comedy that was the Broadway debut of the Marx Brothers, originally opened 92 years ago today -- on May 19, 1924 at the 875-seat Casino Theatre on Broadway at 39th Street. It played for 313 performances before being lost to history.
Thanks to Grouch Marx enthusiast Noah Diamond, I'LL SAY SHE IS will return to the stage in a historic new production at The Connelly Theater beginning previews May 28. It features original book and lyrics by Will B. Johnstone (as adapted and expanded by Noah Diamond), with music by Tom Johnstone and additional music by Alexander Johnstone. Amanda Sisk directs a cast of 21. Opening is slated for June 2.
I'LL SAY SHE IS is a revue in which the Marx Brothers attempt to thrill and amuse a wealthy heiress in search of excitement. Their resulting adventures, in a riotous series of comedy sketches and musical numbers, take them to Wall Street, Times Square, a Chinatown opium den, and even Napoleon's palace.
I'LL SAY SHE IS established the Marx Brothers as one of the greatest comedy acts of all time. However, unlike their later stage musicals The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers, I'll Say She Is was never adapted for film, or revived on stage. The show was lost to history, until writer, performer, and Groucho Marxist Noah Diamond spent six years researching, restoring, and adapting it. Diamond's new book Gimme a Thrill: The Story of I'll Say She Is, the Lost Marx Brothers Musical, and How it Was Found has just been released by BearManor Media.
I'LL SAY SHE IS was presented in 2014 at the New York International Fringe Festival. According to Mr. Diamond, "At the Fringe, we showed that the Marx Brothers comedy material in I'll Say She Is survives. It's like getting a whole new early Marx Brothers movie that you've never seen. Now we're planning a fully-realized production, and a chance to see the show in all its glory."
The Off-Broadway premiere at The Connelly will star Noah Diamond as Groucho, Seth Shelden as Harpo, Matt Roper as Chico and Matt Walters as Zeppo with Melody Jane in the ingénue role of Beauty, Kathy Biehl as the dowager Ruby Mintworth. Rounding out the cast are: Jennifer Harder, C.L. Weatherstone, Mark Weatherup Jr., Corrado Alicata, Dante Adela, Avital Asuleen, Amber Bloom, Caitlin Brunell, Beth Conley, Robyn Michele Frank, Olivia Gjurich, Peyton Lustig, Sarah Miller, Ashley Rubin, and Jessica Webb.
The show is co-produced by Trav S.D., with musical direction and arrangements by Sabrina Chap, choreography by Drama Desk Award nominee Shea Sullivan, costumes by Julz Kroboth, technical directon by Tom Bibla, scenic construction by Joe Diamond, and stage managerment by Sarah Lahue.
I'LL SAY SHE IS runs May 28 - July 2. Performances are Thursdays - Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 and 7 pm with an added performance on Weds. June 1 at 8pm. The Connelly Theater is located at 220 East 4th Street between Ave A & B in the East Village. Tickets are $35 ($25 for students & seniors), available at 212-352-3101 or www.illsaysheis.com.
Noah Diamond has a long history with the Marx Brothers. He served on the planning committee for Marxfest, and has performed as Groucho countless times, most recently in I'll Say She Is (FringeNYC), Music of the Marx Brothers (54 Below), Wish You Were Here: Groucho Marx (The Jewish Museum), and Groucho on the Air (Bushwick Project for the Arts). Noah is the author of Gimme a Thrill: The Story of I'll Say She ..., Love Marches On and 400 Years in Manhattan. With his partner Amanda Sisk, he co-created the Nero Fiddled musicals, a series of political satires seen in downtown Manhattan between 2004 and 2009. noahdiamond.com
Amanda Sisk directed, produced, and co-wrote the Nero Fiddled musicals, and directed and produced special events under the Nero Fiddled banner, both in the worlds of theatre and political activism. Other credits include Weetzie Bat (Edinburgh Festival Fringe), Eastern Standard (Rhodes Players), 400 Years in Manhattan and Orestes 2.0 (HERE Arts Center), Tecmessa (The Kitchen), and "An Evening for I'll Say She Is" at The Lambs. She is the recipient of three Memphis Theatre Awards, and the Best Actress award in New York's Chester Horn Festival.
Sabrina Chap is a Brooklyn-based songwriter, composer, and performer. Her debut album was the ragtime-infused Oompa!, followed by We Are the Parade. Chap was commissioned to score four silent films for New York's noted avant-garde film event, Cinema 16, and performed original songs and incidental music for the theatrical piece File:Under. She recently wrote the music and lyrics for the children's musical Fashion Academy, and for her own one-woman musical Postcards from Nevermore. sabrinachap.com
Shea Sullivan received Drama Desk, Off Broadway Alliance, and Callaway nominations for the Off-Broadway musical Pageant, which she produced and choreographed. Shea received Carbonell Awards for choreography for two consecutive years, and was awarded a BroadwayWorld Theater Award for choreography. Selected credits: Will Rogers Follies (Maltz Jupiter), Drowsy Chaperone (Cape Playhouse), Southern Comfort (Barrington Stage), The Music Man (Maltz Jupiter- Carbonell Award), Ragtime (Lyric Theatre), Crazy For You (Maltz Jupiter, Carbonell Award), Broadway Bares 18 & 19 (Roseland Ballroom), I Got Love (Laurie Beechman), Dancing on a Dream (Duke on 42nd Street Theater), Get Lifted featuring John Legend and the NY Knicks Dancers (Hammerstein Ballroom). For twenty years, Shea was the protégé of Tony Award-winning Choreographer Henry LeTang. sheasullivan.com
Trav S.D. is a key figure in the New Vaudeville, Burlesque and Indie Theatre movements. He is best known for his critically-acclaimed 2005 book No Applause-Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous. He is also the author of Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and its Legacies from Nickelodeons to YouTube, and more than a dozen plays, many produced by his theatre company, Mountebanks. For twenty years, Trav has served as producer and host of the American Vaudeville Theatre. He produced and directed I'll Say She Is at the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival. travsd.wordpress.com