The first preview in Houston was off the charts positive.
The audience, of course, didn't really know what they were in for. Zero Hour is like a freight train. Zero opens the play by hitting the audience hard and fast because he's aggressively determined to take control of the "interview" that's taking place (which is the conceit of the play, that he's being interviewed by a reporter).
I sat in the back row watching, hoping they would "get" what was going on. It seemed, at first, that the laughter, though plentiful, was nervous, as if they weren't quite sure if they are supposed to be laughing. Zero, as a character, gives no quarter.
Then when it gets into the blacklist and the rant that Zero goes on against McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee and being called a communist, by the end of the play, which concludes suddenly, like a shotgun going off, the audience immediately went into roaring applause. The people around us were saying to each other, "This is amazing! I've never seen anything like it!"
The second act is gentler and funnier, and they were with Jim all the way. There is one particular punchline (which I won't give away) which we wondered would "work" in Texas. The laughter seemed to go on for 2 minutes. They loved it. And at the end of the show, it was an immediate standing ovation.
I overheard people in the lobby saying it was the best show all season. So, we are pleased and grateful to know that it plays as well in Texas as it did in Los Angeles. Tonight, second preview.
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