The headline, which I wasn't able to talk about, is that we have made a deal to go to the intimate, beautiful DR2 theater in Union Square. The past couple of weeks have been tense as the producer team searched for just the right space. The location is terrific. A little more downtown. It will give us a chance to continue to grow.
When you open in New York, you hope for a couple of things, the biggest one being some great reviews. The second one is word of mouth. (Third one being theater parties and groups. But, because theater parties go to bigger shows, especially during the holiday season, and St. Clement's has a lot of stairs and is not accessible.)
Word of mouth, according to Ed Gaynes, takes three months minimum for a new play. We started off back at the end of November with some awareness and a little curiosity about Zero Mostel, got our reviews, struggled a little during New Years, but now we're exploding. Houses are packed. The winter slump? Not here. I expect this final week to be sold out. So, if you're my friend, no, I can't sneak you in.
I wrote this at All That Chat:
Jim is getting lines of people coming backstage to the dressing room. I stand there each night and the feedback is extraordinary. Old stage hands who worked with Zero. Songwriters. Actresses.
Sophisticated audiences are also coming who keep asking, "Where has he been all this time?" meaning Jim. (Answer: Los Angeles).
Though it might seem like Jim Brochu is a new face in New York, he grew up backstage at Fiddler and Forum and Dolly, selling orange drink.
The producers have maintained a policy of keeping some seats available at TKTS because, while Zero Hour does have a natural audience for those who saw him on the stage, younger theater fans are turning up and sitting in the front row like it's a rock concert.
The natural wood acoustics, vaulted ceiling and depression-era naturalism of St. Clement's gives Jim's voice an immediacy that's really impactful, even up to the last row, which is still right there almost in his face.
I sit downstairs in the dressing room each night reading, and I can literally hear the building shake as "Zero" rants and raves, pounds and screams, echoing the description of when Zero would shake the foundations of the "tenement building" during Ulysses in Night Town.
I can also hear the dead silences of the play, interrupted only by the radiators in the old building. Over to my right, as I sit reading, there's a full machine shop where they cut wood and build sets.
But the area is meticulous.
The Peccadillo Theater Company has really cleaned St. Clement's up and have restored it into a little wooden jewel box again. And, to brag on our backstage crew, Don Myers and Jeramy Peay, there's not a speck of dust or dirt anywhere to be found.
We really tried to respect and honor the space. It's as much a part of the history of New York as Zero Mostel is.
The vicar of the parish is also an amazing woman and I encourage all visiting theater companies who rent the space to go out of your way to meet Dr. Mitties DeChamplain. Like any great fan, she LOVES theater and sees it as being just as much a religious experience as any church service.
We get so caught up in the business side of it -- who's up, who's down, who's selling, etc. -- that we forget that what we do can and does have a profound effect on peoples' lives.
She is also aware that many people in the theatrical community have a troubled relationship to religion. As we wrote in The Big Voice, Jim and I got into theater in order to get AWAY from religion. EEEK!! A COLLAR!!!!
I told her flat out, when we met, that my "religious beliefs" are purely secular. That my religion is music.
From that starting point, all of us, actors, crew and producers alike, formed a little bond and performed a benefit for the church's free vet clinic and food pantry.
If you google her name, by the way, you will learn some very interesting and surprising facts about this very bold and courageous woman. I would do it for you, but she is sincerely uncomfortable about drawing attention to herself.
I hope theatergoers will continue to reward St. Clement's with good audiences, support Dan and Kevin who run the Peccadillo Theater, and I hope theater companies who rent there will continue to respect the space.
Our last week is going to promise some tearful goodbyes. I've been making backstage videos very casually during this time, if anyone's interested. You can see how cute Don and Jeramy are.
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