Review by Michelle Collier.
“I’ll Say She Is” is a delightful romp back to the days of vaudeville and the wacky characters living in that era. Noah Diamond, with Direction by Amanda Sisk, has re-constructed a charming adaptation of the original “lost” 1924 musical by Will B. Johnstone and Tom Johnstone, a collection of Marx Brothers vignettes with a thin but humorous throughline that weaves them together plot-wise onstage. Noah Diamond obviously has studied Groucho Marx extensively, as his impersonation and interpretation of his character is quite good and well-developed. (He looks and sounds remarkably like him). Seth Shelden, as Harpo Marx, has the opportunity to show off his comedic and musical talents while honking and grinning his way through each scene, as he plays (quite impressively) the following instruments throughout the show: Penny whistle, piano, saxophone, clarinet/oboe and, most impressively, the harp. He has a comedic duet on the piano with Matt Roper, a native Brit, who plays Chico with charming Italian-New Yorker “goomba” style.
It seems as if each scene were designed to showcase specific talents. A few of the chorus members demonstrate their instrumental skills: Jennifer Harder displays some virtuosic bugling on trumpet, and is joined by a cherubic Jessica Webb on French horn and Avital Asuleen on trombone in a cute and humorous musical number. Confident Olivia Gjurich sings coloratura soprano runs in a Wall Street Fairy number. Also added in are some beautiful contemporary ballet dance numbers by the talented duo of Dante Adela and Peyton Lustig.
The chorus sings and dances as an alluring Corps of angel-faced bombshells. The opening tap number alone is enough to tire the most accomplished of hoofers. All throughout, we have the typical chaotic hustle and bustle, Marx Brothers patter, and hectic scattering of characters as they run from scene to scene (complete with comedic asides and pleas to the audience for mercy from Groucho). When we get to the predictable yet happy ending, you are relieved to unite the ingenue with her suitor and find a resolution to all the chaos.” I’ll Say She Is” is a loving homage to the early days of the Marx Brothers, New York and the Jazz Age. If you’re a fan of “Animal Crackers” and “The Cocoanuts”, see this adaptation at the Connelly Theater on East 4th St. while you have the chance.