Backstage Blog

Q&A with the Cast of Animal Crackers

Amy PerkinsAmy Perkins

What first attracted you to Animal CrackersWorking at my favorite theater for the summer and working with Sean Murray!

Were you familiar with the Marx Brothers before this? And if not, what are you excited to learn about them through the rehearsal process and show? I had no idea who they were- in fact I confused them with the 3 Stooges. Now I have seen all the movies and am comforted by seeing Harpo, Groucho, and Chico on the screen.

What do you find most challenging or exciting about working on this production? Is there anything you can tell us about the creative process? Playing multiple characters is always a challenge because you want to make sure the audience can tell who you are each time you are onstage.

Josh Odsess-RubinJosh Odsess-Rubin

What first attracted you to Animal CrackersI enjoy their taste. I found myself in the snacks aisle at my local grocery establishment, but the Chips Ahoy appeared rather caloric, I’m allergic to Oreos, and the Keebler Grasshoppers gave me a dirty look, so I went with Animal Crackers.

Were you familiar with the Marx Brothers before this? And if not, what are you excited to learn about them through the rehearsal process and show? I’ve read some works by my favorite Marx Brother, Karl, and I’ve enjoyed his extremely dry wit.

What do you find most challenging or exciting about working on this production? Is there anything you can tell us about the creative process? They cast me alongside a newly-immigrated Italian and a mute; it’s been rough. The snacks have been excellent.

Samantha Wynn GreenstoneSamantha Wynn Greenstone

What first attracted you to Animal CrackersThe zany world! It pushes the limits both in content and style. The ambiguity of the mechanics of some of the scenes was a challenge I was excited to embark upon!

Were you familiar with the Marx Brothers before this? And if not, what are you excited to learn about them through the rehearsal process and show? I was. Most of my knowledge was pulled from my research. I love that Harpo adopted multiple children. I’m adopted myself and it is the greatest blessing in my life. To have that in common with him is pretty cool because it is another testament to the importance of family within the Marx unit. Family is equally as important to me. I have two brothers. In this show, I have 3. They all treat me like I’m their sister (even though I insist that I’m their BROTHER). There’s a certain level of comfort and freedom to play that comes from that bond and I’m having so much fun having that safety net of support from my cast mates.

What do you find most challenging or exciting about working on this production? Is there anything you can tell us about the creative process? It’s challenging trying to find the balance of how much to pull from the movie/how much Marx humor to bring to it and how much Samantha I can bring to it. Naturally, you want to do justice to the iconic nature of the piece, but it’s important to me to show that I can make a vintage art form my own. If we can communicate that an earlier art form is still relevant and can be improved upon in a modern world, I think we are being responsible as actors.

Russell GarrettRussell Garrett

What first attracted you to Animal CrackersThe chance to work with Sean Murray (who I have known since SDSU days in college) and Cygnet Theatre after seeing and enjoying many shows at Cygnet over the years.

Were you familiar with the Marx Brothers before this? And if not, what are you excited to learn about them through the rehearsal process and show? Somewhat exposed to the Marx Brothers when I was younger. I mainly have fond memories of seeing A Night At The Opera. But more of my memories of the brothers were based on other things, like Groucho on You Bet Your Life and other TV appearances, and Harpo doing his mirror routine with Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy.

What do you find most challenging or exciting about working on this production? Is there anything you can tell us about the creative process? It will be challenging to not laugh at the silliness of the other actors and what they are doing. It will also be challenging to play the “straight man” as the Brothers wreak havoc. I’ve played several silly characters in recent years and in this I have to be more the straight man to them.

Bryan BanvilleBryan Banville

What first attracted you to Animal CrackersThe taste! The iconic personalities of the characters, and the old school physical and punny comedy!

Were you familiar with the Marx Brothers before this? And if not, what are you excited to learn about them through the rehearsal process and show? I knew of Groucho (the iconic glasses we all have worn) and had seen some clips. I was introduced to Groucho when I was doing Forever Plaid and had to do a Groucho “cross” in one the numbers. I am most excited to explore the various bits they do and work on adding even MORE puns to my vocabulary.

What do you find most challenging or exciting about working on this production? Is there anything you can tell us about the creative process? I think anytime you are in a show playing two or more characters that have extensive stage time, it is finding a way to differentiate them. With Jamison and John Parker, I have the added challenge of having two similar archetypes to portray that still have their own idiosyncrasies. This leaves me both excited and scared (musical theater ode for you) for the creative process. There is nothing more rewarding than finding a character for the first time, especially when you first feel it click! Sometimes it can be equally gratifying killing a character at the end of the run of a show. I remember after doing Spamalot at Moonlight, I ceremoniously killed off all 6 of my characters at the end of their last scenes. This helps me in the creative process to not bring in the same character over and over and over again, which can also pose a challenge for character acting!

Spencer RoweSpencer Rowe

What first attracted you to Animal CrackersI’ve always been a fan of the Marx Brothers comedies and have wanted to play Chico for years!

Were you familiar with the Marx Brothers before this? And if not, what are you excited to learn about them through the rehearsal process and show? Yes!

What do you find most challenging or exciting about working on this production? Is there anything you can tell us about the creative process? The physical side of the comedy. The timing has to be perfect!

Chaz FeuerstineChaz Feuerstine

What first attracted you to Animal CrackersThe comedy, the Marx Brothers, and a chance to work at Cygnet.

Were you familiar with the Marx Brothers before this? And if not, what are you excited to learn about them through the rehearsal process and show? I always knew about Groucho, because of the famous mask, and his appearance in random Saturday morning cartoons. But I actually had never watched a Marx brother movie until I was hired on for this show.

What do you find most challenging or exciting about working on this production? Is there anything you can tell us about the creative process? I find the challenge in the characters I play to be the straight society member for the Marx brothers to riff off of. I love that Sean set us up for this success right in the beginning… to always play the action of the scene, not the comedy.

Melinda GilbMelinda Gilb

What first attracted you to Animal CrackersSean asked me to do it. Seemed like it would be fun and I liked that I would be playing a straight character (meaning, not the funny one).

Were you familiar with the Marx Brothers before this? And if not, what are you excited to learn about them through the rehearsal process and show? I was familiar with the Marx Brothers. They used to show reruns of You Bet Your Life with Groucho and I thought he was brilliant. Harpo kind of scared me!

What do you find most challenging or exciting about working on this production? Is there anything you can tell us about the creative process? Learning the lines has been slow going!

Catch Animal Crackers through August 13th!