Bruce Nelson, Brad Aldous & More to Lead Center Stage's ANIMAL CRACKERS; Full Cast Announced

Rehearsals began Tuesday for Animal Crackers, the first production of Center Stage's 2013-14 Season. This classic American musical comedy is set to feature City Paper Best Actor Bruce Nelson as Groucho Marx playing the ineffable Captain Spaulding. Under the direction of Northlight Theatre Artistic Director BJ Jones-who previously directed Center Stage's smash production of A Skull in Connemara-Animal Crackers begins previews on September 4 and runs through October 13.

"It's hard to overstate the genius of the Marx Brothers," says Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah. "This is high-flying, laugh-a-minute lunacy at its best, and I can't wait to see families and kids of all ages come together to enjoy this remarkable musical comedy."

A toe-tapping, knee-slapping classic, Animal Crackers gets a zany new revival in this gem of American comedy. Filled with secret identities, love affairs, and stolen art, this timeless comedy proves the genius of the Marx Brothers is as spot on as ever. This new adaptation by Henry Wishcamper is based on the original book by George S. Kaufman & Morrie Ryskind, music and lyrics by Bert Kalmar & Harry Ruby, and features new orchestrations by Doug Peck.

Joining Bruce Nelson in the Marx Brothers family are Brad Aldous as Harpo and Jonathan Brody as Chico, who come to Baltimore from the recent Williamstown Theatre Festival production, where their performances as Harpo and Chico were hailed by critics and audiences alike (Brody also having played Chico previously at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago). Rounding out the Marx quartet as Zeppo is Sean Montgomery-fresh off the National Tour of Mary Poppins.

Completing the ensemble of actors are five talented performers making their Center Stage debuts. Sean Blake toured with the National and Australian tours of Show Boat, and has worked throughout regional theater as both a performer and choreographer. Dina DiCostanzo's credits in regional theaters across the country include musicals from 42nd Street to Hairspray and Singing in the Rain. Erin Kommor comes most recently from Goodspeed Opera, where she performed in Stephen Schwartz' Snapshots and the new musical Come From Away. John Scherer is a Broadway veteran whose many credits include LoveMusik, Sunset Boulevard, The Most Happy Fella, Mame, and 42nd Street. Rounding out the cast is Chicago native Catherine Smitko, whose work includes Mme. Thenardier in several productions of Les Miserables, as well as A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Cinderella, and Romeo and Juliet.

Also coming to Center Stage from the Williamstown and Goodman productions of Animal Crackers is Director of Physical Comedy Paul Kalina. A trained physical performer and director, Kalina is a Co-Founding member of the physical theater company 500 Clown, a Represented Artist with Cirque du Soleil, and an Assistant Professor of Movement at The University of Iowa.

Animal Crackers, directed by BJ Jones, begins previews on Wednesday, September 4. The show opens officially on Wednesday, September 11, and closes October 13. Tickets start at $19 and can be purchased by calling 410.332.0033, or visiting Full information on the season can be found at

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