Showing posts from August, 2009

Zero Hour in DC vlog

Jim and I arrive in a very hot and humid DC. This video is from our first day of tech rehearsal, which went very quickly, thanks to the efficient and talented designers and staff of Theater J.

Standing Ovations (response to Ari Roth).

I wrote up the blog entry below about Jim's standing ovation after the initial preview of "Zero Hour" here at Theater J in Washington DC. Ari Roth, the artistic director, expands on the point in his blog entry on their site. I thought I'd make a few comments. Ari says:
We’re not a theater that’s big on Standing O’s. Maybe cause our ticket prices aren’t expensive enough (there often seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of money an audience has paid for a ticket and the extent to which they wish to congratulate themselves — and the performance — when it’s done, as if to say, “thank God it was worth it!),If you read theatre sites like Talkin' Broadway, the regulars there constantly bemoan the fact that "standing o's" in Broadway houses are so constant that they've become mundane -- as if the audience feels obliged to stand (usually without energy) -- in order to, as Ari points out, to justify paying over $100 a ticket, as if trying to…

Rescue gets another chance to help doggies.

Just got this note:

Hi Steve. My name is Amy Wentzel - I am the fund raising director for a small rescue in North western Pennsylvania (The Lyons Den Rescue, Inc.). We will be holding our 7th annual Canine Carnival on September 12th. This event brings area rescues together with dog clubs and vendors of animal products to network with each other, educate the public on spay/neuter, promote adoptions, and to raise funds for our rescue. Would it be possible for us to use your song, "Rescue" at our event? If we can use it, can you send me a copy? I came across your site while searching for songs to be played by our DJ during the event. Thank you for your help. Amy Wentzel Our website: I wrote her back and told her I and my co-writers would be MORE than honored for them to use "Rescue" for their event. This makes me so very happy. And just in case you haven't heard "Rescue"....

First DC Preview.

If the extended standing ovation, two curtain calls and loud whoops and hollers don't say it all, I don't know what could. But Jimmy, as Zero, still getting used to the stage and still struggling a bit with the dense humidity of September in DC (not to mention the leftover clouds and rain from the hurricane that just passed by), managed to grab the audience by the neck and totally mesmerize them.

(We know this because we checked with the lady who watches the door of the DC Jewish Community Center. "They loved it. They loved it," she said. "I overheard one man saying it was one of the best plays he's ever seen. Another just kept going on and on, saying how great it was to be treated to such a satisfying entertainment.")

Today, he has two shows, so we'll see how well he holds up. But, you know, old theatre pros like Jim, he could swim the Potomac, cook a ten course meal and run and marathon, and still have energy left to do a show. All he needs is a lit…

Images from DC.

Here is the beautiful Jewish Community Center, the home of Theater J. And below that are a few more photos taken during the photo shoot using my little camera. They are not the official photos, but you can get a sense of the terrific set.

EDIT (courtesy of Delia, the production manager): The set seen here was designed by Luciana Stecconi with props by HannaH Crowell (she likes to stress the palindrome of her first name) and lighting by Jason Arnold.

My Favorite Picture So Far.

Jim with his stage manager, Seth Finkle, posing like the poster for "Zero Hour."

"Zero Hour" in the Washington Post.

Jim is interviewed in the Washington Post.

Jim Brochu's play portrays the impact of the blacklist on actor Zero Mostel. (Michael Lamont)

By Jonathan Padget Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 28, 2009 When writer and actor Jim Brochu picks up the phone at his home in Los Angeles, he is eager to share some good news. He has just learned that "Zero Hour," his one-man play about the late, larger-than-life actor Zero Mostel, which opens Saturday at Theater J, has been picked up for an off-Broadway run in the fall. But there's bad news, too: Brochu has picked up something else -- an annoying cold. Yet even the misfortune has an upside. "I think I caught the cold from Topol!" he says gleefully. Brochu explains that he met Chaim Topol after a recent performance of "Fiddler on the Roof," the musical in which Topol has toured extensively in the decades since winning the role of Tevye -- originated by Mostel on Broadway in 1964 -- when the hit show…


Can the nation's capital handle Zero Mostel and Jim Brochu?

We'll find out when "Zero Hour" starts previews on Aug. 29th, just three days from now.

And, of course, look for the video blogs. I'll be right there capturing all the excitement (and the laughs) with my little camcorder.

See you in Washington!

"The Whole World Watching" by Marc Platt.

You might recall a video we did about the Iran voter crisis, called "The Whole World's Watching." Marc Platt wrote the song and demo'd it during the demonstrations. And then I cut together video of everything we could access through the Net that day, June 20, 2009.

Marc has now done a studio recording of the song. It's rich, filled with some Beatlesque guitars -- just enough to give the song a little 60s texture, entirely appropriate to the theme. Some of my best pals are in this: Berington Van Campen, Paul McCarty, Lisa Turner, Deanna Pino and Thomas Hornig, all excellent singers and songwriters themselves.

On New Movies.

"District 9" is "The Hurt Locker" with aliens.

(And I loved them both.)

A Successful Benefit for NCTC.

Steve standing in front of a poster for the show.

I am happy to report that we raised a lot of money for New Conservatory Theatre Center this past weekend. The house was packed, the singers I invited from the SFGMC to sing with me totally kicked ass on their numbers, and Jimmy brought down the house. (Comedian Jim David, who's there doing "South Pathetic" also contributed 10 side-splitting minutes).

Because this was in support of a challenge matching grant, people made pledges at intermission and now the theatre is very close to meeting their goal, the deadline of which is August 31.

So, that's the headline. Here are some photos taken at the rehearsal.

Jim Brochu during rehearsals.

Steve at the piano during rehearsal.

Steve with Ed Decker, Artistic Director, New Conservatory Theatre Center.

Behind the scenes, I spent most of Saturday putting together ring binders full of music. I had invited KC and Ned from Preoccupied Pipers to join me on bass and drums, but the timing did…

"Rescue" used for another animal shelter.

I'm so happy that "Rescue," the song I wrote with several of the participants in the Kulak's Wednesday night workshop, is now being used to help find homes for more dogs at another shelter here in California, the NEW DAWN RESCUE SHELTER of Northern California.

Here is the video they made.

Les Paul Dies.

Les Paul, a name every guitarist knows because of the iconic Gibson Les Paul guitar, a blazingly powerful rock guitar, died at 94 today. Every major rock guitarist has played one. They have a distinctive "fat" sound, thanks to his genius as an inventor. He created the "pick-ups" that capture the sound of the solid body guitar, another invention of his. (There was a time in my life, when I traveled with a rock band, that I could identify just about any electric guitar on the market by hearing just a few seconds of sound. Les Pauls were my favorite.)

He also was an early pioneer in multi-track recording, which made it possible to not have to sit in a room all together while making a recording. He and his wife, Mary had a number of hit records as "Les Paul & Mary Ford."

Read the Rolling Stone obit.

Ernie's Egg In A Hole: A Cooking Demonstration.

Today, my friend, Ernie -- who you've seen on our "Breakfast with Ernie" vlogs -- demonstrates how to make a delicious breakfast treat, Ernie's Savory Egg-in-a-Hole. It consists of french bread, eggs, mushrooms, peppers, onions, sausage, spinach, spices, rosemary, oregano, and whatever else you think would taste good.

Be sure to listen to the wonderful crackle of the bread when we finally get down to eat it. Mmmmmm.

"You Are A Stranger" at Kulak's Woodshed

A song that attempts to express how it feels to lose that close connection to someone you really love, "You Are A Stranger" from "The Big Voice: God or Merman?" is usually sung by Jim. The song means a lot to me and it's so emotional, I almost can't get through it.

EDIT: I had been wanting to sing it for the open mic for a very long time, just to see how the non-theatre crowd would respond. Many of the performers here in the L.A. acoustic scene have commented that my songs seem sophisticated. I honestly don't see it. I think my songs are very simple. I wrote it originally this for a "sequel" to The Last Session which I knew we were never going to write, but which gave me inspiration beyond its story. In TLS, the character of "Buddy" talks about his mother, Emma. I always thought Emma might sing this song.

So, the song sat around for a long time until The Big Voice happened, and it fit perfectly into the section where "Jim" a…

So You Think You Can Mug.

See anyone familiar?

Yes. Right behind Nigel, just as he was explaining how happy he was with the winner of "So You Think You Can Dance," are Jim and Steve.

Just sittin' there.

I Feel Like A Proud Papa.

Amy Lynn Shapiro, who I have mentored as a lyricist, is being featured tonight in New York on Big Night Out's "Featured Composers Series." A number of the songs she will be featuring are numbers she and I wrote for "Manhattan Clam Chowder," a new musical (with book by Jim Brochu, of course).

So, congrats to Amy, who's kicking ass!

We'll be joining you in New York soon, Amy.

APA Rejects "Ex-Gay" Therapy.

At long last, the American Psychological Association tells the full truth. There is no such thing as credible "change therapy" that "fixes" homosexuality. Any of us who have been interacting with the "exgay ministries," whether through personal involvement or, like myself, through dialogue with them, knows this to be a fact.

The exgays will come back with "proof" that people have "changed," but it's always the same handful with the same stories. And when pressed, they will confess that they're still attracted to the same sex, but somehow, have managed to bond with a person of the opposite sex. I have never met an "exgay" who has actually turned into a heterosexual the way you and I think of heterosexuals.

Does this mean that people shouldn't be allowed to seek this kind of therapy if it's what they wish? No. I think people should do whatever they want. But no therapist should ever tell a client that they'll …

Only One Demand: Equality.

National Equality March

Official Website

On October 10-11, 2009, we will gather in Washington DC from all across America to let our elected leaders know that now is the time for full equal rights for LGBT people. We will gather. We will march. And we will leave energized and empowered to do the work that needs to be done in every community across the nation.

Our single demand: Equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states.

Our philosophy: As members of every race, class, faith, and community, we see the struggle for LGBT equality as part of a larger movement for peace and social justice.

Our strategy: Decentralized organizing for this march in every one of the 435 Congressional districts will build a network to continue organizing beyond October.

The Power of the Pentatonic Scale, or, How To Teach An Audience A New Song