Sunday, September 27, 2009

One Last DC Show.

Jim Brochu as Zero MostelI can't believe it's almost over.

Has it really been a month?

In this short month, it feels like we've done and seen everything, and yet we've barely scratched the surface. But we couldn't be full time tourists. After all, the main point of our being here was to put "Zero Hour" onto the stage in one of the most sophisticated cities (with one of the most sophisticated audiences) in the world, and to see what would happen.

It's one thing to do it in Florida for what would be mostly retirees (who, not so amazingly were also sophisticated and discerning), but this is, after all, Washington, DC. The city has a thriving theatre community and features some of the most progressive and stimulating art (and art critics) in the world. If we came to DC and failed, then New York would be almost an impossibility.

Jim Brochu as Zero MostelWhat we couldn't expected or dreamed was that not only would every critic in every paper give him rave reviews, but, Jewish holidays notwithstanding, we would end the run with sold-out houses and people hanging from the rafters.

Last night, for instance, every seat possible was filled, including two deep in the one-seat ring of balcony chairs, with people standing in the back for the whole show. At intermission, I saw several people giving him a standing ovation, and the show wasn't even over yet. Afterward, I heard more than a few people, upon exiting, saying, "See? I told you it was a fabulous show. That's why I had to bring you."

Which, of course, means they were coming back two and three times.

Jim Brochu as Zero MostelJim got a letter last night, in his dressing room, "I saw 'Fiddler On The Roof' back when my parents brought me, but Zero was out for the performance. Thank you bringing his presence to me 43 years later. This was what I was waiting for."

For me, personally, it's been fun being his caretaker. Doing a show like this is like singing an opera every single night -- and it's not just the physicality of the performance "where becomes a rampaging bellowing animal every night," as one actor used to say about Zero's stage performances. It's a psychological and emotional drain, too. Zero lived with pain. The physical pain of his leg, which had been hit by a bus and almost amputated, but the pain of losing his parents when he married a Catholic girl, the pain of being blacklisted and hounded and hunted and shunned for 10 years, the loss the film of "Fiddler," etc. Jim relives these things and the explosions of anger and pain and loss permeate his performance, as every critic noted.

Jim Brochu as Zero MostelAnd then, there's the new stress of knowing we're headed into the harshest and most critical theatre town in the world, New York City, where Jim (and Zero) was born and raised.

All these things weigh heavily upon him in each and every performance. This piece, "Zero Hour," as he puts it, is his baby. It's his life. It's the culmination of a lifetime of theatrical work.

But, first, one last show, and then rest.

Jim Brochu as Zero MostelHome for a month, where he'll take one last look at the play and include the little tweaks he discovered while performing the show here.

But as happy as we are to be going home for rest and to see the cat, and for me to get back to Kulak's and singing again (and editing more video shot here), we feel a melancholy that it's all so suddenly over. We will miss the creative team here, particularly Seth, Daniel and Josh who have toiled in the (freezing) booth every night, calling the cues, hitting the lights and sound.

Theatre is weird in that you become intimately friendly with people, joking around and laughing and loving each other, and then the fierce and vicious clock dings a little bell, and, suddenly the little family is torn apart, instantaneously. It's just not fair. But it's reality.

So, the end of a successful run, particularly one in which all the final shows are sold out, brings with it the joy of accomplishment and the sadness that it all has to end.
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New article in Arts & Understanding (with amazing photos)

http://aumag.org/2017/05/10/steve-schalchlin-advocate/