The Cocoanuts production images

The Cocoanuts

  • February 16 - November 2, 2014
  • Music & lyrics by Irving Berlin | Book by George S. Kaufman
  • Adapted by Mark Bedard | Directed by David Ivers
Run Time:About two hours and 30 minutes, including one intermission.

Sun, sand and shtick

The service stinks but the gags are four-star in this Marx Brothers romp. Groucho owns a bum hotel in Florida and peddles dubious real estate to gullible Northerners seeking a place in the sun. He’s after a rich society dame, who’s after an eligible match for her daughter, who’s in love with the hotel’s head clerk. Trouble rolls in with the tide when the other Marxes arrive and mama’s eligible match turns out to be anything but. Mark Bedard (Groucho in 2012’s Animal Crackers) will adapt this jazz-age gem with songs by Irving Berlin.

To view images of this production, click here to visit our photo gallery.

more information+

The Story

At the Cocoanut Hotel, Polly Potter, the daughter of a rich widow, has become romantically attached to Jamison, the hotel’s clerk. Florida is in the middle of a land boom, but Jamison reveals to Polly that the property around the hotel is too hilly to be developed conventionally. As an aspiring architect, however, he has dreamt up innovative ways to build on the difficult terrain.

Mrs. Potter wants Polly to stop seeing Jamison. She would prefer an alliance with the seemingly respectable Harvey Yates. Meanwhile, Mr. Hammer, the hotel’s proprietor, tries to interest Mrs. Potter in buying “Cocoanut Manor” property near the hotel.

Yates, conniving with an old disreputable chum of his, Penelope Martin, concocts a complicated plan to steal Mrs. Potter’s diamond necklace, which is hidden in her room next to Penelope’s.

That night, various parties enter and exit Penelope and Mrs. Potter’s adjoining suites. Penelope is able to nab the necklace. But Silent Sam, unseen, discovers where she and Harvey plan to hide the purloined treasure.

Hammer enlists Willie to help drive up bids at the Cocoanut Manor auction, but the plan backfires. Also at the auction, Harvey and Jamison bid for the same lot. Jamison prevails. But just then, the theft of Mrs. Potter’s necklace is announced. Mrs. Potter gets her necklace back, but the wrong man is arrested!

Mrs. Potter insists now that Polly become engaged to Harvey. She plans an elaborate engagement party at the hotel—a masquerade ball with a Spanish theme. This smart event becomes the setting where, with any luck, wrongs will be righted and true love will triumph.


Ethnic Stereotypes

In The Cocoanuts, Groucho’s Hammer points out to Chico’s Willie the “levees” along the riverfront. “That’s the Jewish neighborhood,” Willie notes. Hammer replies, “We’ll pass over that.” 

As a comedy team, the Marxes tended not to wear their religious identity on their sleeves. “We Marx Brothers never denied our Jewishness,” Groucho once wrote. “We simply didn’t use it. We could have safely fallen back on the Yiddish Theatre, making secure careers for ourselves. But our act was designed from the start to have a broad appeal.” 

Nonetheless, the vaudeville routines that the boys played early on were part of a comic tradition that’s been called “relentlessly ethnic.” In one early sketch, a speaking Harpo played an Irish “Patsy Brannigan” character. In a later routine, Groucho portrayed a German “Papa”—whose accent was given a Yiddish twist when World War I made references to German elements unpopular. Eventually, Groucho’s “Papa” became a generic American patriarch. Chico’s clownish Italian was the one major vestige of stereotypical ethnic humor that followed the Marxes to Broadway and Hollywood.

An edited version reprinted from OSF’s 2014 Illuminations, a 64-page guide to the season’s plays. For more information, or to buy the full Illuminations, click here. Members at the Patron level and above and teachers who bring a school groups to OSF receive a free copy of Illuminations.


Music and Lyrics
Irving Berlin (1888-1989)
George S. Kaufman (1889-1961)
Mark Bedard*

Creative Team

David Ivers
Jaclyn Miller
Music Director
Gregg Coffin
Scenic Designer
Richard L. Hay
Costume Designer
Meg Neville
Lighting Designer
Marcus Doshi
Sound Designer
Corinne Carrillo
Orchestrations & Arrangements
Gregg Coffin
Julie Felise Dubiner
Voice and Text Director
Rebecca Clark Carey
Fight Director
U. Jonathan Toppo*
Associate Director
Nell Geisslinger*
Associate Choreographer
Robert Petrarca
Associate Music Director
Darcy Danielson


Mr. Hammer
Mark Bedard*
Brent Hinkley*
John Tufts*
Robert Jamison
Eduardo Placer*
Mrs. Potter
K. T. Vogt*
Polly Potter
Jennie  Greenberry*
Harvey Yates
Robert Vincent Frank*
Penelope Martin
Kate Mulligan*
Detective Hennessey
David Kelly*
Katie Bradley
Erin O'Connor**
Miles Fletcher*


Darcy Danielson
Jim Malachi
Bruce McKern
Michael Caruso
Aaron Moffatt
* Member of Actors' Equity Association (AEA)
**AEA Professional Theatre Intern
  • Cocoanuts image

    Trailer: The Cocoanuts

    Enjoy and come see the show, and then see it again! It's never the same show! Watch the video below with Mark Bedard to find out why.

  • Mark Bedard image

    Snapshot: On your Marx! Get Set! Show!: Adapting The Cocoanuts

    Adaptor and actor Mark Bedard shares his inspiration and process for adapting the play.

  • behind the scenes image

    Snapshot: Creating a High Tech Vaudevillian Drop

    Learn about the technical magic behind the show's integrated roll drop.

  • Gregg Coffin

    Snapshot: Musical Discoveries

    Music Director Gregg Coffin talks about the music and re-envisioning of this season's production.

  • Ivers photo

    Thoughts on the play and production

    Director David Ivers talks about the humor and music in this Marx Brothers classic.

  • Cocoanuts image

    Stage Notes

    Learn more about the play from Associate Director Nell Geisslinger in this excerpt from OSF's Informed Volunteer Program.

  • logo image

    Anything can happen...and does

    " of the funniest and most satisfying evenings of entertainment..."

  • Daily Tidings logo

    Another side-splitting musical

    "...sight gags, broad slapstick, intricate dance routines entertain and astound..."
    Click the logo to read the complete review.

  • Oregonian logo

    Delirious Mayhem

    "...see it more than once because it will never be the same show twice."
    Click the logo to read the complete review.

  • Herald & News logo

    Wacky joy in The Cocoanuts

    "...uproariously hilarious..."
    Click the logo to read the complete review.