Monday, August 28, 2006

Jim's Brilliant Closing Night

Jim Brochu taking a bow at the end of Zero Hour
If I may, can I brag about Jimmy just a bit? Perhaps I've already done a lot of that, but I think there's room for just one more post on the subject.

Last night was the closing night of his sold-out run of "Zero Hour." It probably could have run forever if the theatre hadn't already been booked in advance. At it was, the producer extended the run as long as possible. He and I had a talk earlier in the evening and he told me the run was way into the black. For a non-profit theatre company doing small 99-seat productions, this is exceedingly rare. He said, "The first two weeks were a bit shaky, but then word of mouth started, and from that point on, it was a sell-out run."

Barbara Rush with Jim Brochu & Carolyn Hennessy
Barbara Rush with Jim & Carolyn Hennessy.

Barbara Rush, one of the best actresses in this town came to see the show after hearing about it at her gym in Laguna. See, there's "good word of mouth" and then there's "YOU MUST GO SEE THIS SHOW" word of mouth. In LA, if the theatre fills up, it means you got the latter.

Last night's show -- in fact, every show this past weekend -- Jimmy was on FIRE. I attended three. I had to stay in the dressing room just behind the stage, but it was cool because I could hear the energy of the audience as they went from the initial shock of seeing him as Zero, to being thrown off balance by Zero's wicked sense of humor, to laughing uproariously, to the pin-drop silence of the serious moments where Zero talks about the blacklist and the bus accident that almost took his leg off.

On the last show, after sitting out act one, I had to find a way into the theatre. On the side wall is a couch that sits at kind of an angle. So I made my way to that and, because it was all the way to the side, I could watch both Jim and the audience in this lovefest.

Jim Brochu with Carl Ballentine
Jim with Carl Ballentine.

Watching the various celebrities hang around afterwards to pay tribute to Jim was wonderful, too. But the most gratifying responses came from people who were Zero's friends. They all came with a very critical eye. One in particular, TV director and producer Gary Smith, had worked with Zero on his TV specials. He came in ready to cut it to shreds if it didn't uphold Zero's legacy. Not only did he love the show, the script and Jim's performance, but he returned several more times and even helped me tape one of the performances.

Jim with a group of our friends.

Larry Blank, Kaye Lynn, Jim Brochu, Barry Weiss, Ted Heyck, David Rambo
Kaye Lynn, famed Broadway orchestrator Larry Blank, Jim Brochu,

Barry Weiss (nephew of Jack Gilford), Ted Heyck, playwright David Rambo.

Jim Brochu, Charlene Tilton
Jim Brochu with Charlene Tilton.

My favorite "new" celebrity to meet as a result of this run was Charlene Tilton, who is a total hoot. She and her manager have actually approached us about getting involved in a new show for her, so part of her agenda for being there last night was to check out Jim's writing. To say she was blown away, would be the understatement of the decade. We had a blast at the little afterparty. The champagne was free-flowing and she was bubbling with energy.

She told me, "I used to work at this theatre. I scrubbed those toilets and cleaned those seats and sold popcorn behind that counter. I also worked at the big theatre," referring to the larger Grauman's Egyptian looming behind us. "In fact," she continued. "I was fired from the Egyptian because of an incident with Fred Astaire."

"Really?" I probed.

She lit up and told us the whole story, which I just happened to catch on my little digital camera...

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The Steve Show #screamcry

My first show since my surgery. With Blake Zolfo.