Friday, September 04, 2009

Reviews for Zero Hour in DC.

The reviews from Washington are beginning to trickle in, and though you can never know what a critic is going to say, and though reviews only partially account for ticket sales -- those are mostly driven by word of mouth, awareness PLUS reviews -- the notices are terrific.

Generally, big city newspapers eschew giving you "pull-quotes." They tend, rather, to describe what's on the stage in terms that let the reader know what it is they would see. They're more interested in the substance and subtext of the play. So, it's harder to just grab a "it's terrific!" type of quote. Rather, if they say anything positive at all, you know they liked it. And some give you a ratings system. For instance:

The first one to hit the wires was from the Washington Times. 3 1/2 out of 4 stars. That's fantastic. They sum it up in the last paragraph.

Mr. Brochu captures Mr. Mostel's thundering bravado — the florid language, extravagant gestures, the wagging brows and glowering stare, the way the comedian could never pass up a pun. The low humor is abundant, but so are the high ideals. Mr. Mostel claims to have come from nothing, but "Zero Hour" affirms his worth as both an actor and a man.
The toughest critic in town, though -- and the one "everyone" says in the most important -- is Peter Marks from the Washington Post. (We encountered Peter back years ago when he did the first review, which I would describe as somewhat positive, for The Last Session at the NY Times back when it ran off-off-Broadway -- a very tough reviewer who gives no quarter).

At first, we weren't quite sure what to think, given Mark's seeming distaste for these types of evenings -- he tore Valerie Harper to shreds replicating Talullah Bankhead -- until a friend wrote and said, "For Marks, this is a rave! Congratulations!!"

The headline is amazing. It reads, "Jim Brochu Ably Brings the Hero to Zero." After first putting down any play that features an actor portraying any other actor, he finally gives in and admits that Jim is really great in the role. (Most of the review is dedicated to describing Zero's career, as dramatized in the piece).

Here is his review digested:

Jim Brochu ably brings the hero to “Zero Hour.” The fascination with celebrity impersonation goes on and on. And actors, being actors, seem to love nothing more than slipping into the skins of other actors. So now, the writer-performer Jim Brochu is moving among us, as the embodiment of the great Broadway clown Zero Mostel. As these impressionist acts go, "Zero Hour" has the virtue of verisimilitude. With his ample frame, expressive eyes and hair forced forward to cover a thinning scalp, Brochu looks spookily like his subject, for whom he's written the piece as a heart-engraved valentine. The vocal inflections, too, are absolutely impeccable. If you close your eyes, you'll swear you hear the Mostel of Brooklyn and Broadway, the late star who forever put a stamp on two of the plum roles of musical comedy's golden age: Tevye the Milkman in "Fiddler on the Roof" and Pseudolus, the conniving Roman slave, in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." Aping Mostel's impish charm -- those rolling rogue's eyes! -- and replicating his surefire timing, Brochu proves to be a worthy keeper of Mostel's outrageous flame.

Peter Marks, Washington Post
Another friend wrote, "Congratulations! You survived the buzz saw of Peter Marks' pen!" And we did!

Hopefully, this will help the run sell tickets, and we breathe a sigh of relief as we also look forward to the New York run in November.
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