The Marx Brothers
Written by Herman Timberg
Theatrical Manager's Office, with artistes looking for engagements.
Scene 2. Takes
place on the balcony of the lobby in a fashionable hotel.
Cast in the order of their appearance
JULIUS H. MARX
The follow-up to N'Everything (Home Again) was written by Herman Timberg. His sister Hattie Darling both managed and appeared in the show and as boxing champion Benny Leonard was a fan of both Hattie and the Marx Brothers, he contributed both financially and in person to the show. It was initially called On the Mezzanine Floor and made its début in February 1921. It was soon renamed On The Mezzanine and played mostly on the Poli circuit until transferring to Keith's for June-October (having taken a break in August). It received its final name On The Balcony after leaving Keith's, playing other theatres in the autumn before commencing a tour of the Orpheum circuit in December.
publicity photograph was taken on 16 December 1921, at the Main Street
Theatre, Kansas City, Missouri, where the Marxes were performing On
The Balcony. The prints were reportedly delivered to them on
14 January 1922, at the Orpheum Theatre in Calgary, Alberta.
Benny Leonard and Hattie Darling soon left the show but On
was taken to London in 1922, opening at the Coliseum, St Martin's Lane,
on 19 June. By this time, Helen Schroader (or Schroeder), later known
as Helen Kane, "the Boop a doop"-girl, was in the show. Chances are
that she already had joined the troupe in April 1921 and also appeared
in Humor Risk. After a
rather unsuccessful first week with the British audience, the Marxes
switched to the more sedate Home Again
from the 26 June. After performances in Bristol and Manchester, the
Marx Brothers returned to New York on 29 July.
Most of this info is lifted from Glenn Mitchell's The
Marx Brothers Encyclopedia, including the programme and cast,
which is copied from a facsimile in the Encyclopedia
of the original London Coliseum-programme. However, this programme for
some reason omitted Arthur (Harpo) Marx, whom at last is given full
credit here. The hype about "The Comedy Hit of the Age..."
is from the London Coliseum poster of 19 June 1922, which reappears in
Groucho's and Anobile's The Marx Brothers Scrapbook.
The dialogue in the scenes is mostly taken from the Library of Congress
via Simon Louvish' book Monkey Business, except
where otherwise noted. Both LoC and the British programme indicates
that Grouchos character was named Hammer (as in the
movie version of The Cocoanuts),
whereas Chico is Chico (the programme adds the
surname Saroni). Zeppo is named
Bobby in the LoC-script, where the British programme
calls him Sammy Brown,
which I've also chosen. For
more info on scene 1 in On The Balcony, see Theatrical Agency in the I'll Say She Is-section.
From Animal Crackers and the song Hooray For Captain Spaulding onwards, Groucho became known for the "hello, I must be going"-routine. This theme was carried on in Dr Hackenbush ("the only reason that I came is so that I can go"), a deleted song from the film A Day At The Races, but this was probably a much earlier specialty of Groucho's. I'll Say She Is! features the famous Napoleon-scene, where Groucho as Napoleon constantly leaves and re-enters, but the closing song of On The Balcony's Scene 2 (where the Detective enters singing "goodbye, goodbye, I hate to see you go") to Groucho, predates those other appearances.