Rush to get 'Zero' tickets
By COMI ZERVALIS NEUBURG
July 10, 2008
In the spirit of Jim Brochu's portrayal of entertainer/legend Zero Mostel, imagine the following proclamation as a shout: "Zero Hour" is a masterpiece!
Immediately you are transfixed by the eccentrically boisterous spirit of Brochu as Mostel. A teapot-shaped man with bright, intelligent eyes explains that he had a dream in which he was a baked potato. Such is the quirky, funny, poignant and engrossing world swirling about in "Zero Hour," a smashing one-character biographical drama.
Brochu, who also wrote, "Zero Hour," comes directly from the off-Broadway stage.
In "Zero Hour," Brochu's Zen approach to scripting delves deep into the spiritual core of Mostel. It is purely through the emotional being that we learn of the man's accomplishments. Brochu's storytelling is so expert that, in the end, you are a child listening to a fairy tale.
Brochu's accolades include a 2005 Los Angeles Ovation Award for best actor in a musical for "The Big Voice" and an Oscar Wilde Award for "The Last Session," an off-Broadway hit that he wrote and directed. He is also a television actor whose roles include Father James on "All My Children" and Judge Julius Weyburn on "The Young and the Restless." (Brochu also was a dancing raisin in a Raisin Bran commercial and a lemon for Palmolive, thus the spiritual connection to Mostel's dream of being a baked potato.)
But who, precisely, was Zero Mostel, the Jewish New Yorker whose humble beginnings imitating a butterfly at the Café- Society in Manhattan led to a career as a professional comedian and later to stardom?
Eccentric and driven, compassionate and zany and proud of his roots, Mostel was the kind of man who could initially scare or cajole acquaintances into psychological conundrums or good naturedly tease as he does a New York Times reporter whose portrait he madly paints during an interview about his life. ("I see you've had a human bypass!" is an introductory greeting.)
As a child, Mostel was a painting prodigy.
He would copy the works of the great masters at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the play, he dubs himself a "Mosteletic" painter of 10,000 works who performs comedy to finance his art.
Mostel's persona lingers in the psyche of baby boomers and their parents as the Tony Award-winning actor who, in the early '60s, starred as Pseudolos in the Broadway musical "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." He also played Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof," popularizing the sounds of a cantor in the iconic song "If I Were a Rich Man."
Part of what makes "Zero Hour" so funny is the way Brochu, reminiscent of the late comedian Sam Kinison, peppers his impersonation with choice words, delivered at high volume to evoke the comedy and the pathos of Mostel's life.
Directed by Oscar-nominated actress Piper Laurie, "Zero Hour" is full of suspense, sorrow and hilarity. It scores 100.
"Zero Hour" runs through July 27 at the Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Road in Coral Springs. Call 954-344-7765, or visit www.stagedoortheatre
Copyright © 2008, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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