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Susan's Travels Tours + Trips
March 08, 2014, 05:00 AM By Susan Cohn Daily Journal

Jenny Graham
IT’S MARX MADNESS AT THE OREGON SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL. Harpo (Brent Hinkley), Chico (John Tufts) and Groucho (Mark Bedard) make an entrance in The Cocoanuts, the 1925 screwball stage musical that became their first feature-length film. Through Nov. 2 in Ashland, Ore.

THE COCOANUTS GROW WILD (AND WACKY) AT THE OREGON SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL IN ASHLAND. You can bet your life that the secret word is laughter as Groucho, Chico and Harpo get caught up in (and create most of) the shenanigans at the down-on-its-luck Hotel de Cocoanut during the Florida land boom of the 1920s. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s delightful restaging of The Cocoanuts, the Marx Brothers’ 1925 Broadway hit, lets the trio run amok, on stage and in the audience, with hysterical results. Two hours and 45-minutes including one 15-minute intermission. Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. Book by George S. Kaufman. Adapted by Mark Bedard. Directed by David Ivers. Through Nov. 2.

AN ASIDE. Director David Ivers said, “The Cocoanuts celebrates the best that the Marx Brothers and musical theatre have to offer: a score comprising some of Irving Berlin’s early works and the anarchistic comedy to be found only in the Marx Brothers themselves.”

OH, AND DID YOU KNOW? After a wildly successful run on Broadway with the show, the Marx Brothers filmed The Cocoanuts in 1929 at Paramount’s Astoria Studios in Queens, N.Y. Their first feature-length film, it was made soon after the addition of synchronized sound permitted talking movies.

WHAT’S ON THE PROGRAM. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2014 season includes The Tempest (now through Nov. 2), The Cocoanuts (now through Nov. 2), The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window (now through July 3), The Comedy of Errors (now through Nov. 2), Water by the Spoonful (March 26-June 20 and Sept. 4-Nov. 2), A Wrinkle in Time (April 16-Nov. 1), Richard III (June 3-Oct. 10), Into the Woods (June 4-Oct. 11), The Two Gentlemen of Verona (June 5-Oct. 12), Family Album (July 1-Aug. 31), and The Great Society (July 23-Nov.1). For ticket information visit www.osfashland.org call (800) 219-8161 or email boxoffice@osfashland.org.

THE PLAY’S THE THING. During Ashland’s Fourth of July celebration in 1935, local college Professor Angus L. Bowmer arranged the first performances of what is now the internationally renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Approximately 125,000 people come from around the world annually to view the productions, which run February through Nov. The season includes four plays by Shakespeare and seven by classic and contemporary playwrights, rotating in repertory in three theaters. The outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre (1,190 seats) is the oldest existing full-scale Elizabethan stage in the Western Hemisphere.

A WALK IN LITHIA PARK. Ashland’s lovely 93-acre forested Lithia Park, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, runs along Ashland Creek, whose water has the second-highest concentration of (presumably beneficial) lithium in any natural spring (the highest being in the famous springs of Saratoga, N.Y.). The park, just a block from the theaters, has two duck ponds, a large playground, tennis courts and miles of hiking trails. A perfect place to stretch your legs between performances.

TAKE A ROAD TRIP TO ASHLAND WITH AMERICAN CONSERVATORY THEATER. Meet actors, rub shoulders with A.C.T. artistic staff and play a part in an insider’s experience alongside fellow theater enthusiasts on a July 17-21 road trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Included are luxury round-trip bus transportation; four nights of first-class hotel accommodations at the historic Ashland Springs Hotel; tickets to five performances (plus optional additional performances); backstage tours; a wine tour to Jacksonville including lunch; breakfast each morning; discussions and receptions with guest artists; a welcome reception buffet dinner at the hotel; and a farewell dinner. Deadline for reservations is May 1 with an early bird discount for booking by March 15. To request information contact Helen Rigby at hrigby@act-sf.org or (415) 439-2469.

FROM PAGE TO STAGE: JOIN ROAD SCHOLAR IN ASHLAND. Road Scholar, formerly known as Elderhostel, provides perennially popular programs at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival that combine the usual pluses of packages tours and the advantages of travel with intellectually curious friends. Attend performances; explore the architecturally unique OSF theatres with a behind-the-scenes field trip led by an OSF company member; learn about repertory theatre history and the life of an actor; and enjoy performances by the award-winning theater company. Get details about Road Scholar’s Ashland programs by visiting www.roadscholar.org or calling (800) 454-5768.

AND REMEMBER: Don’t keep forever on the public road, going only where others have gone and following one after the other like a flock of sheep. Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods. Alexander Graham Bell.

Susan Cohn is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, the North American Travel Journalists Association and the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association. She may be reached at susan@smdailyjournal.com.



Tags: shakespeare, through, oregon, performances, ashland, cocoanuts,

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