HOME AGAIN: THE MARX BROTHERS AND NEW YORK CITY to Stream on Groucho's 130th Birthday

Tune in at 7:00 pm ET on October 2.

By: Sep. 14, 2020
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

HOME AGAIN: THE MARX BROTHERS AND NEW YORK CITY to Stream on Groucho's 130th Birthday

Every fall, the State University of New York at Fredonia pays homage to the town's near-namesake, Freedonia-the mythical kingdom at the center of the Marx Brothers' 1933 classic Duck Soup. Since 1987, the Freedonia Marxonia festival has become a tradition for Marx Brothers fans. This year, with the pandemic restricting public gatherings, Freedonia Marxonia has gone virtual.

Cindy Yochym, reference librarian at SUNY Fredonia's Daniel A. Reed Library, is responsible for organizing and programming the annual Marx Brothers activities. When it became clear that an in-person festival would not be possible in 2020, Ms. Yochym asked the scheduled guest speaker, Marxian writer and performer Noah Diamond, to devise a streaming alternative. "Back in late 2019, 'New York City and the Marx Brothers' was chosen as the theme for 2020," Ms. Yochym says. "Noah's skill and creativity have given us the ability to maintain the theme with a program that promises to be entertaining, informative, charming-and able to be enjoyed by people all over the world."

The resulting presentation, Home Again: The Marx Brothers and New York City, will be streamed live, free of charge, at 7:00 pm ET on October 2. The YouTube streaming link is here, and the stream will also be embedded at Mr. Diamond's website, and the Freedonia Marxonia site. Diamond explains that what began as an "illustrated lecture" has evolved into a "multimedia experience," incorporating music, film, photography, and other elements with a live monologue. Home Again, named for one of the Brothers' vaudeville sketches, will cover the team's years in New York and the city's influence on their work. It will also serve as a virtual tour of Marxian city locations, past and present.

The Marx Brothers were native New Yorkers, born to Jewish immigrants Sam and Minnie Marx at the turn of the twentieth century. New York City was the scene of their childhood, their entrance into vaudeville, and their eventual Broadway hits I'll Say She Is (1924), The Cocoanuts (1925), and Animal Crackers (1928). Their first films were made at Paramount's Astoria studio (now the Museum of the Moving Image), and New York was also the scene of later triumphs like Groucho's 1972 concert at Carnegie Hall.

Mr. Diamond, known as the creative force (and onstage Groucho) of the recent Off Broadway revival of I'll Say She Is, last appeared at Freedonia Marxonia in 2017, when his presentation The Marx Brothers on Broadway was seen at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House. "It's disappointing not to be making the trip to Fredonia this year," he says, "but it's nice that this will be accessible to Marx Brothers fans everywhere." He promises that the October 2 program will include "a lot of laughs, a few tears, and a few surprises. And it's a perfect way to celebrate Groucho's 130th birthday-by celebrating his birthplace."

Home Again: The Marx Brothers and New York City is supported by a grant from the Carnahan Jackson Humanities Fund of the Fredonia College Foundation. Freedonia Marxonia is supported by the Hahn Family Freedonia Marxonia Fund of the Fredonia College Foundation.

Noah Diamond is a writer and performer, known for his work on I'll Say She Is, the Lost Marx Brothers Musical. In addition to restoring and adapting the book and lyrics, he played the role of Groucho Marx to great acclaim in the show's 2014 New York International Fringe Festival and 2016 Off Broadway productions (New York Times and Time Out New York Critics' Pick). He has a long history of playing Groucho, on and off the stage. Other works include 400 Years in Manhattan, Love Marches On, and Gimme a Thrill: The Story of I'll Say She Is. He can be heard monthly as a co-host of The Marx Brothers Council Podcast, which was recently included in Vanity Fair's roundup of great film podcasts. Current projects include the satirical Greek tragedy Quarantigone, co-created with Amanda Sisk, his partner in life and art. noahdiamond.com

About Freedonia Marxonia: The Marx Brothers' 1933 movie, Duck Soup, is set in the fictional country of "Freedonia." Using this connection, "Freedonia Marxonia: Marx Brothers Film Festival and Symposium" began in 1987 at The State University of New York at Fredonia when marketing major Douglas Canham, class of '87, proposed the idea of an annual Marx Brothers festival to then university president, Dr. Donald MacPhee. The objective of the annual festival was to incorporate academics and fun, while involving the university and the village of Fredonia. Screenings of Marx Brothers films, look-alike contests, duck soup tasting competitions, speakers, artwork submissions, and postal cancellations were part of the festival from 1987 to 1990. The event received international media coverage. The festival was not held from 1991 to 2008, but in 2009, it returned with the sponsorship of Mr. Canham. From 2010 to the present, it has been supported by the Hahn Family Freedonia Marxonia Fund of the Fredonia College Foundation. In 2014, materials and event planning were transferred to the university's Reed Library. Freedonia Marxonia's main activities are held over two days close to Groucho Marx's October 2nd birthday. All activities are open to students, faculty, staff, and members of the community.