Animal Crackers
Die cut handout for the original 1928 production
MusicBert Kalmar
Harry Ruby
LyricsBert Kalmar
Harry Ruby
BookGeorge S. Kaufman
Morrie Ryskind
Productions1928 Broadway
1982 Washington, D.C.
1992 Connecticut
1993 New Jersey
1999 West End
2009 Chicago

Animal Crackers is a musical play with music and lyrics by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby and a book by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind. The musical starred the Marx Brothers and is set at the Long Island Home of Mrs. Rittenhouse; a character portrayed by Margaret Dumont in the 1928 production on Broadway.

The lyrics and music of Animal Crackers entered the public domain in the United States in 2024.[1]

Original production

Animal Crackers opened on Broadway on October 23, 1928, at the 44th Street Theatre, and closed April 6, 1929, running for 191 performances.[2][3] The musical was produced by Sam H. Harris, staged by Oscar Eagle, and starred the four Marx Brothers and Margaret Dumont in the Brothers' second Broadway hit. Hermes Pan appeared as a chorus boy.

The play was filmed in 1930 with most of the principal leads repeating their roles from the stage production, and most of the musical numbers cut.

After The Cocoanuts ran for almost three years at the Lyric Theatre, the "anarchic" Animal Crackers became the third and last Broadway show for the Marx Brothers (I'll Say She Is was the first). It was their last stage show, after which they focused on film. Vaudeville's heyday was finishing, as talking movies were beginning to become popular. While the Marx Brothers performed in Animal Crackers in the evenings, they were busy during the day filming The Cocoanuts at Paramount's Astoria Studios in Astoria, Queens.

Song list

The song list for the show is as follows:[4][5][6]

† added for Goodspeed production
‡ added for Arena Stage and Paper Mill productions
†† added for Paper Mill production
††† added for the Goodman production

Original 1928-9 Broadway cast

Character Actor
Hives Robert Greig*
Mrs. Rittenhouse Margaret Dumont*
Arabella Rittenhouse Alice Wood
Roscoe W. Chandler Louis Sorin*
Wally Winston** Bert Mathews
Mrs. Whitehead Margaret Irving*
Grace Carpenter Bobbie Perkins
M. Doucet** Arthur Lipson
John Parker Milton Watson
Mary Stewart** Bernice Ackerman
Horatio Jamison Zeppo Marx*
Jeffrey T. Spaulding Groucho Marx*
Emanuel Ravelli Chico Marx*
The Professor Harpo Marx*

*Reprised the role in the film adaptation.

**Character not in the film adaptation.

Later productions

The musical was revived in 1982 at the Arena Stage, Washington, D.C., directed by Douglas C. Wager and choreographed by Baayork Lee.[7] It was also revived in 1992 by Goodspeed Musicals, Connecticut.[8]

A production in 1993 at the Paper Mill Playhouse, New Jersey, was notable for being Kristin Chenoweth's first professional role.[9][10]

It was produced in the U.K. by the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre, where it was first mounted as part of the 1995–96 season,[11] running from the 21st of December until the 3rd February. It was then revived at that theatre's Swan Street Studio from 12 March to the 14th April 1998. It was taken on tour, and played the Sculpture Court of The Barbican Centre in a circus tent in June 1998;[12] after further touring, it transferred to the West End at the Lyric Theatre, opening on March 16, 1999,[13] and closing on May 15, 1999 (the run brought to an early close, having been booking until September[14]). Starring were Ben Keaton (Spaulding), Toby Sedgwick (the Professor), Joseph Alessi (Emanuel Ravelli), and Jean Challis (Mrs Rittenhouse).[15][16]

Animal Crackers was produced to open the 2009–2010 season at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, opening September 18, 2009, and closing on November 1.[17][18][19] The revival starred Joey Slotnick (Spaulding), Molly Brennan (the Professor), Jonathan Brody (Emanuel Ravelli), and Ora Jones (Mrs. Rittenhouse). In addition, with a cast of only nine, several of the roles were doubled up by actors.[20]

Animal Crackers also ran from May 6, 2011, to June 4, 2011, at The Lyric Stage Company of Boston.

"Animal Crackers" opened the 2013 season at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, running from June 26, 2013, to July 13, 2013.


  1. ^ "Public Domain Day 2024 | Duke University School of Law".
  2. ^ New York Times review, October 24, 1928
  3. ^ "Animal Crackers – Broadway Musical – Original – 1928-10-23 to 1929-04-06". IBDB. Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  4. ^ Original 44th Street Theatre program
  5. ^ - worldwide musical theatre database[dead link]
  6. ^ "Animal Crackers - 1928 Broadway Musical: Tickets & Info". Broadway World. Retrieved 21 August 2022.
  7. ^ New York Times review, May 31, 1982
  8. ^ New York Times review, December 6, 1992
  9. ^ "Over 20 Years of Popular: Kristin Chenoweth on Stage and Screen". Retrieved 2019-10-15.
  10. ^ New York Times review, November 14, 1993
  11. ^ "Main House Production History from 1976 - 2015". Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre. Archived from the original on 2015-05-19. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  12. ^ 12:00AM BST 04 Jul 1998 (1998-07-04). "Bliss is a tent filled with Marx Brothers one-liners". Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2015-12-11. Retrieved 2019-08-31.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ "Animal Crackers - 1999 West End Musical: Tickets & Info". Broadway World. Retrieved 21 August 2022.
  14. ^ "Animal Crackers Makes Way for Tango Pasion". Archived from the original on 2015-12-22. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  15. ^ This Is London, 3/16/99[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Full Marx for bringing back fun". Telegraph. 1999-03-15. Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2019-08-31.
  17. ^ "Animal Crackers - Goodman Theatre - Chicago". Theatre In Chicago. Retrieved 21 August 2022.
  18. ^ Sierra, Gabrielle. "Joey Slotnick Completes Cast Of ANIMAL CRACKERS, Begins 9/18 At Goodman Theater". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved 21 August 2022.
  19. ^ "Animal Crackers". Goodman Theatre. Retrieved 21 August 2022.
  20. ^ "Cast of Animal Crackers", Playbill: 3, October–November 2009