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Broadway delivers new flavor to annual Freedonia Marxonia celebration
Thursday, May 25, 2017

Broadway delivers new flavor to annual Freedonia Marxonia celebration

“Broadway and the Marx Brothers” will be the theme of this year’s Freedonia Marxonia -- the annual celebration of the connection between the Village of Fredonia and “Freedonia,” the setting of the 1933 Marx Brothers’ movie “Duck Soup” -- that opens on Thursday, Sept. 28, at Fredonia.

The two-day celebration begins in Reed Library at 3 p.m. with brief opening remarks, the singing of “Hail Freedonia” by members of the Student Opera Theatre Association and Fredonia’s chapter of the American Choral Directors Association, cake in honor of the 127th anniversary of Groucho Marx’s birth and a group photo of attendees wearing complimentary Groucho glasses.

The Marx Brothers were comedic stars of vaudeville, Broadway, movies, radio and television in the first part of the 20th century. Their 1933 movie “Duck Soup” takes place in the fictional country of "Freedonia." (A lukewarm reception greeted the film upon its release, in the midst of the Great Depression, but today it’s viewed as a classic political farce.) In 1987, Freedonia Marxonia: the Marx Brothers Film Festival and Symposium was created by Fredonia student Doug Canham to commemorate this connection.

The 1891 Fredonia Opera House will host the illustrated lecture “The Marx Brothers on Broadway: 1924-1929,” by author, performer and Marx Brothers expert Noah Diamond, also on Thursday, at 7:30 p.m. There will also be prizes relevant to the Marx Brothers.

In an interview format on Friday, Sept. 29, at noon in the garden area of Reed, Mr. Diamond will talk about his passion for the Marx Brothers and the effort it took to bring the first Marx Brothers’ Broadway show, “I’ll Say She Is,” back to the stage for the first time since its debut in 1924. Pizza will be provided as part of the “Lunch with The New York Times” series.

A screening of “Duck Soup” on Friday at 2 p.m., followed by “From Cracked Ice to Duck Soup,” a discussion about the creation of the film, led by Diamond, at 3:15 p.m., will be held in the Library Classroom.

The Marx Brothers’ 1929 film, “The Cocoanuts,” an adaptation of their 1925 Broadway musical, will be screened at the opera house on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The film was shown January 1930 in Fredonia’s Winter Garden Theatre, which would later become the 1891 Fredonia Opera House. There will also be prizes.

Everyone, regardless of age or skill or talent level, is invited to participate in the Freedonia Marxonia Art Contest. Using any medium (including items found around the house or in nature), creative renditions of one or more of the Marx Brothers are welcome. Artwork can be realistic, stylized, caricatured, etc. It can be drawn, painted, sculpted, constructed or formed in any original way.

Entries will be displayed as part of the Freedonia Marxonia exhibit, which opens Sept. 28 and continues through Oct. 22, in Reed Library. Those submitting entries will also be eligible for cash prizes: $100 first prize; $75 second; and $50 third. Artwork, which is due by Sept. 22, can be submitted to Cindy Yochym in Reed Library.

All activities are free and open to the public.

Freedonia Marxonia is supported by the Hahn Family Freedonia Marxonia Fund of the Fredonia College Foundation. Diamond’s interview is also supported by the Fredonia College Foundation's Carnahan Jackson Humanities Fund and Reed Library.

For more information, see online or contact Cindy Yochym via email.


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