Showing posts from September, 2007

U of A Wildcat Reviews The Big Voice

The University of Arizona Wildcat reviews The Big Voice.

'The Big Voice' speaks volumes to audiences

By: Elizabeth M. Holder


It's amazing how you can find someone, that significant other, in the most unlikely of circumstances. Who could have known that a Roman Catholic boy from Brooklyn and a Baptist boy from Arkansas would one day meet on a cruise ship in the Atlantic Ocean?

Jim Brochu and Steve Schalchlin never anticipated their chance meeting, their eventual life partnership and the creation of "The Big Voice: God or Merman?" But now they definitely have an inspirational life together and an astounding show that everyone should see in Tucson while they still can.

Where some two-person shows may feature one actor and use the other to play a supporting role, this musical equally showcases two talented actors and their unique life experiences.

Brochu and Schalchlin effortlessly wear the hats of many other minor characters in the lives of the two men, from ch…

Big Voice in Tucson 3: Talkback!

After the show this past week, we held a talkback with the audience, answering their questions.

Wilson Cruz on Coming Out & Aftermath

Yesterday, at UCLA, there was a seminar called "The Glass Closet" about celebrity and being GLBT, and being in the closet. Wilson Cruz provides some very smart insight into the subject.

Tucson Citizen Review

'Big Voice' boy meets boy love story
Tucson Citizen

Sure, we know life is a cabaret. But with Ethel Merman? Hers is not the first name to come sailing out of the wings when we think of that popular musical.

Jim Brochu and Steve Schalchlin sing and dance to a different drummer, however. When Brochu starts singing, his eyes light up, he spreads his arms and a distinctly Ethel Mermanish sound comes out.

He is not imitating her. He is living her - the pure joy and over-the-top enthusiasm of someone who doesn't really exist unless he's performing. Schalchlin is equally eager to be an entertainer. He just isn't that crazy about Merman. Brochu figures nobody's perfect.

Life being the cabaret it is, Brochu and Schalchlin were made for each other. The story of their journey together is the story of "The Big Voice: God or Merman?" a heartfelt musical comedy that becomes endearing because it feels so honest.

This show is their autobiography, opening Invisi…

Big Voice in Tucson 2

Tucson Weekly Review

I think this is a really lovely review and it shows the reviewer was really engaged and listening to what was going on (though the picture lists me as "James Schalchlin.")

Love as Salvation

Jim Brochu and Steve Schalchlin share their hilarious and touching story at Invisible Theatre


Love as Salvation

Now, here's a real odd couple. Jim is an extroverted Brooklyn Catholic who, as a boy, dreamed of becoming pope, mainly because he liked the clothes. Steve is an introverted Arkansas Baptist who, as a boy, toyed with the idea of evangelism until he learned that queers aren't welcome at the seminary, even if they never stray far from the closet.

Jim grew up going to Broadway shows starring the likes of Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh. Steve once saw a dinner-theater production featuring Bob Crane.

Jim and Steve meet on a cruise--in the Bermuda Triangle, aboard the sister ship of the Andrea Doria. Surely, the relationship has about as much of a chance of success as…

Buna Texas, My Hometown 6

In this final episode, our favorite barber Wendell Widener returns to talk about his yellow house, we meet the justice of the peace who tells us about strange weddings and court cases, and we go down to the bayou down near Port Arthur and meet two old folks crabbing (after crossing over the Rainbow Bridge). The documentary ends there. It was time to go back to New York. Sadly, Wendell died not too long after this and I haven't been back to Buna since then. I'm sure my high school buddy, Glenn, is still on his little ranch. I'm sure the downtown looks pretty much the same. And life goes on.

Happily, my folks are still alive and I'm ready to make me some more chicken gumbo.

Buna Texas, My Hometown 5

We meet two good ol' boys who live on small ranches. One raises rabbits as food and the other raises a few cattle -- and was one of my best friends in high school. WARNING: Though nothing graphic is shown, part of this may be disturbing to animal lovers. I didn't comment or criticize. I just pointed the camera and allowed him to speak. Remember, a lot of these small town people are living in survival mode. This is how they are able to feed their families.

A Rational Voice Among The Hatemongers.

The always wonderful Jim Burroway attended the hateful and mean-spirited "Family Impact Summit" in Tampa, Florida where the obsession with gay-bashing reached a fever pitch over the weekend. But as all these so-called "Christians" congratulated themselves over their smarmy and uninformed opinions of gay and lesbian people, Jim said one, small rational voice stood up to ask a simple question of the panel of self-described experts on homosexuality. One that stumped the panel and left them speechless.

Go here to read about the moment and learn how a calm, respectful and reasonable voice can override and trump the loud and angry every single time.

It's a lesson I continually need to learn. If you don't have Jim's Box Turtle Bulletin bookmarked, do so today. His peaceful and calm voice, along with his exhaustively researched entries, are a lesson for all of us no matter which side of this debate you fall on.

Get Your Own Copy of The Big Voice Script!

Announcing the good news! The Big Voice: God or Merman? has now been officially licensed and published by Samuel French. You can order your own copy of the script directly from them by going to this page. And if you're a producer and you want to produce The Big Voice in your theater, you can license the play, find a couple of middle aged prima donnas who've been wanting to play romantic leads, and put the show up in your own home town.

Buna Texas, My Hometown 4

This episode brings us to a man plowing a field and a look around a flea market with some very unusual country items.

The Funniest Moment.

I have to tell you, I am so exhausted. Absolutely and completely worn out. Yesterday, during our matinee, I could barely keep my eyes open. After working so hard during the cruise, then one day home, then right into tech rehearsal and performances, it was almost too much. But I made it.

But something funny happened during the show -- so funny (and sweet, really) that I thought I was going to fall off the stage laughing. And worse, it was during a moment in the show where I couldn't laugh. So, I had to totally contain it without cracking so much as a smile -- and had to wait until we got to the dressing room. It came from a comment that popped out of the mouth of an audience member -- and I had no idea if Jim heard it. We couldn't look at each other and we couldn't do anything.

So, here it is -- and I hope it translates:

First of all, the audiences here much older than we are used to. I think it's because Tucson has many retirement communities -- and senior folks love to …

Buna Texas, My Hometown 3: Mom's Chicken Gumbo Recipe

I asked my mom if she would demonstrate how to make authentic south Texas gumbo. Thanks to the invention of the microwave, the "roux" is now easily made. But there's still a trick to getting it done just right...

Buna Texas, My Hometown 2

In part two of my 1986 documentary, my mom and I visit an old graveyard and then the church where my daddy was the pastor and I played piano. At the church, you will hear some TRULY deep south country singing. This is the real thing.

First Tucson Review (Arizona Star).

In its entirety:

'Big Voice' is theater with big heart and funny tales
By Kathleen Allen

Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.23.2007

Salvation can come in many forms: the Bible, J.D. Salinger, Bach, the Dalai Lama — you name it.

For Jim Brochu, it came in the form of belter Ethel Merman.

The story is told in hilarious detail in "The Big Voice: God or Merman?" now playing at Invisible Theatre.

This is theater with a big, big heart and funny, funny tales. Brochu and his partner, Steve Schalchlin, have made it easy to embrace this musical about growing up, falling in love with the theater and each other, and struggling to make their love deep and lasting.

Schalchlin is responsible for the often lovely, lively tunes and tender lyrics in the show, Brochu for the play.

But it is the two of them together who pour their hearts out and make the stories real and relatable.

The bio-play traces their very different boyhoods — Brochu grew up in Brooklyn, where he learned mat…

Buna Texas, My Hometown 1

Although I was born in Arkansas, my family moved around a lot. My high school years were spent in a tiny, little town called Buna, Texas down in the southeast corner of the state up against the Louisiana border, on the border of the Big Thicket National Forest. Buna was actually a sweet town full of interesting and warm people.

In 1986, just after Jim and I met, I made a trip back home to Buna and brought a video camera along. It was one of the first things I ever shot. With my mother in tow, we cruised around Buna. The tape was locked away in a cabinet for a long time. Finally, last month, we transferred the VHS tape to a digital file. I've edited the footage and have uploaded it to YouTube in six parts. Here is part one:

In Memory of Jeff Pierce.

Jim and I had the privilege of meeting Jeff Pierce when we were in Houston earlier this year. Jeff was the longtime husband/spouse to J.D. Doyle, who has, for years, kept up an archive of GLBT performers -- and who has a radio show that is available over the Net. Jeff, an intensely spiritual man, was one of the kindest and most loving persons I've ever met. Unfortunately, he died this August of cancer. I wasn't aware of his passing until J.D. called me this morning to deliver the news and to tell me that he had put a tribute page to Jeff on his site.

Jeff & J.D.

J.D. is one of the nicest persons I know. I send him my most ardent sympathy for his (our) loss. And thank you, J.D., for the personal message you gave me this morning involving "When You Care." I'm honored that the song means so very much to you.

First Video from Tucson!

We FINALLY got connected to the Net here at the place where we're staying. Yay! It's so nice to be back online. So, here is the first video from Tucson. Also, be on the lookout for a new video series I just finished editing: a six part visit to Buna, Texas where I graduated high school. It's a video I shot in 1986.

Meanwhile, here is Tucson:

Made It To Tucson

Just wanted to write a quick note. We won't have regular Net access for a few days, but Tucson is lovely (and flat!). The mountains surrounding this place are startlingly gorgeous.

Streetcars and Judy!

Arthur in San Francisco did a video featuring all the classic San Francisco street cars, which I talked about in one of my SF videos. This is just great, especially with the Judy Garland soundtrack!

Atlantic Crossing '07 4: The Night Crew

Tirso previously asked me to write a song for him and the people who work on the night crew.

Atlantic Crossing '07 3: The Challenge

Long nights of working on new songs during the cruise got the attention of some people working on the night crew. So, they presented me with a challenge...

Atlantic Crossing '07 2: Dublin (2)

Part two of our Cross Atlantic cruise is also Part Two of our day in Dublin at the NewsTalk radio station with Fionn Davenport. This is the interview in which Jim defends Joan Crawford.

Atlantic Crossing '07 1: Dublin (1)

On our cruise across the Atlantic, we first hit Dublin, where Jim had set up a radio interview on a local NewsTalk show. This is the first of two parts. Our friend, producer Steven Rivellino, joined us.

Home (For A Day).

We are home from our cruise. I made four videos onboard and I'll be posting them over the weekend. We are only home for a day -- then we are off to Tucson for three weeks to perform "The Big Voice" again!

Our first article has appeared. Stay tuned for some very fun videos. First, Jimmy sets up a radio interview by.. well, let's just say it has something to do with Kathy Griffin. Then, Steve meets some very interesting people aboard the ship and one of them presents him with a challenge. Do I meet the challenge? Stay tuned!