Minnie's Boys

Minnie's Boys is a musical with a book by Arthur Marx (Groucho Marx's son) and Robert Fisher, music by Larry Grossman, and lyrics by Hal Hackady.

Minnie's Boys
Original Cast Recording
MusicLarry Grossman
LyricsHal Hackady
BookArthur Marx
Robert Fisher
BasisEarly years of the Marx Brothers
Productions1970 Broadway

It provides a behind-the-scenes look at the early days of the Marx Brothers and their relationship with their mother Minnie Marx, the driving force behind their ultimate success.


There was a long preview period lasting for sixty-four performances, during which the creators constantly tinkered with the troubled show. The original choreographer, Patricia Birch, was replaced and "...there were rumors about replacing Shelley Winters..." The musical had mixed to negative reviews, "although Walter Kerr...enjoyed it."[1]

The musical opened on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre officially on March 26, 1970 and closed on May 30, 1970 after 80 performances. The musical was directed by Stanley Prager and choreographed by Marc Breaux, with scenic design by Peter Wexler, costume design by Donald Brooks and lighting by Jules Fisher.[2][3]

The cast featured Shelley Winters as Minnie Marx, Lewis J. Stadlen as Julius "Groucho" Marx, Daniel Fortus as Adolph "Harpo" Marx, Irwin Pearl as Leonard "Chico" Marx, Alvin Kupperman as Herbert "Zeppo" Marx, and Gary Raucher as Milton "Gummo" Marx.[2][3] Stadlen won both the 1970 Theatre World Award and 1970 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Performance in a Musical.[4]

The score's song "Mama, a Rainbow" has become a standard for cabaret performers,[5] and was recorded by Steve Lawrence and Jim Nabors soon after the show opened. In the show the song is performed by Harpo[6], whose screen and stage persona was always silent.

An original cast album was released by Project Three Records, although the cast album was originally scheduled to be recorded and released by RCA Victor.[7]

Groucho Marx received a playbill credit as the show's advisor; after the show closed, it was revealed that Groucho had made no real contributions, and had basically been paid off so that he would not raise any legal objections to the production.

During its brief run, Groucho did help promote the musical by appearing on the Dick Cavett Show with Shelley Winters and the five young actors who portrayed the Marx boys in the show.[8]

Song list



  1. Mandelbaum, Ken. Minnie's Boys Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops, St. Martin's Press, 1992, ISBN 1466843276, p. 219
  2. Minnie's Boys Playbill (vault), retrieved May 8, 2019
  3. Kerr, Walter. Kerr on ‘Minnie's Boys’" The New York Times, April 5, 1970
  4. "Lewis J. Stadlen Awards" ibdb.com, retrieved May 9, 2019
  5. Jones, Kenneth. " 'Minnie's Boys', the Marx Brothers Musical, Gets Concert Revival Oct. 31, Nov. 3-4" Playbill, October 21, 2002
  6. "Minnie's Boys Synopsis and Musical Numbers" guidetomusicaltheatre.com, retrieved May 8, 2019
  7. Dietz, Dan. Minnie's Boys, The Complete Book of 1970s Broadway Musicals, Rowman & Littlefield, 2015, ISBN 1442251662, pp. 11-13
  8. "The Dick Cavett Show, 3/20/70" dickcavettshow.com, retrieved May 8, 2019
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