AndyGram Interview: Zero Hour at 200 Performances.
Wonderful interview with Jim Brochu at AndyGram.
In 1953, Ed Sullivan, who was really a truly wicked man, threatened to expose Jerry Robbins as gay in his column unless he named names. So not only did he have pressure from the Committee [House Un-American Activities Committee] to name names, his career was about to be ruined on many different levels. And back then there was the social stigma of being queer. Of course he capitulated and gave names. He said he gave names that he thought had already been given, but he certainly named Madeline Lee. Madeline and I had a long talk about it one night.
The other thing that surprised me was his friends. They started to come in droves to the show. And most of them came with their arms crossed: ‘Somebody thinks he can be Zero? Oh, yeah? Show me!’ And by the end, now we are all friends. They gave me stories for the show -- Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, Theodore Bikel gave me some wonderful things that are in the play now. So that’s been a wonderful blessing. And all the family has come. Esther Mostel – his niece – all of 86 years old got to the St. Clements Theater [where the production opened in New York in 2009]. She was in a walker and she couldn’t climb the stairs. So our two stage managers just picked her up and brought her up 30 stairs. And she had hands in places that she hasn’t had hands in places in a long time. So she really enjoyed the show. Ha! Ha ha!
We started the show in Los Angeles, from there we went to Houston and San Francisco. I did a couple of shows in Boston and then we went to Florida. We did a 16 week run in Coral Springs and sold out this 400-seat theater every night and that’s what gave the shape to the New York show. Then the final touches were in Washington, just before we came up here last year. We won the Ovation in LA, the Carbonell in Florida, the Helen Hayes in Washington, and the Drama Desk in New York. Jesus, as an actor – thank you, thank you! We came here for 12 weeks but when that was up – the reviews were love letters -- the producers said we can’t close this. So now we are going to stay here in New York.
Zero brought me back, and I brought Zero back. He’s a star again. He likes that.