Showing posts from September, 2010

Photos from York's "Greasepaint."

Finally, photos of the great cast of York Theatre's "Roar of the Greasepaint, Smell of the Crowd." First performance, Friday night!

Jim Brochu and Josh Grisetti
Jim Brochu and Josh Grisetti
Jim Brochu and Josh Grisetti
Jim Brochu and Josh Grisetti
Quentin Earl Darrington
Quentin Earl Darrington and Josh Grisetti
Jim Brochu, Elly Noble, Kay Trinidad, Veronica Kuehn, Josh GrisettiZonya LoveRuthie Ann Miles and Eliza Hayes Maher
Photo credits areBen Strothmann.

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Free Concert, Columbus Ohio Oct. 11

I'm singing a concert at a hospital in Columbus Ohio on October 11.  It will be free to all.

The program is to be held at the Susan H. Edwards auditorium at Riverside Hospital in Columbus Ohio, 7-9 pm
FREE and open to the public. SW CEU's will be provided at no charge

It Really Does Get Better.

In the news last night was the story of the boy who jumped to his death after his roommate hid a camera and broadcast, over the Internet, the kid having sex (with another boy).

One prank. One camera. One dead kid.

How afraid was this boy?

So afraid that he felt it was better to be dead than for anyone to know.

And how did it come to be like this? What made him so afraid?

It's the question I don't hear get asked that often. But I can tell you that I grew up absolutely terrified of being discovered. Terrified. I was so terrified that when I finally did come out to myself, I shut off my family, ran to the nearest big city -- Dallas, in this case -- and never spoke about it to them.

This hurt my younger brother, especially, because, to him, it looked like I had abandoned our family -- which, I suppose, is exactly what I did, though it didn't feel that way to me, at the time. (And I was unaware of the pain I was inflicting on him and everyone else.)

I've been addressing the…

Josh, Marcia, Jim, and Thoughts on "Greasepaint."

I didn't know anything about "The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd" when Jim and Josh (Brochu and Grisetti), together with Jim Morgan, artistic director, at the York, decided to schedule it. All I heard (by rumor from most everyone who had seen it) was that it had a "fabulous score" and that the book made no sense, whatsoever. Or something.

But, for the "Musicals in Mufti" series, it was a perfect fit, because they "revive" classic or lost musicals -- five performances spread out over three days -- in "mufti," meaning "in street clothes."

So, it doesn't matter if the particular show is "good" or "bad." It's history. You want to see it because it exists and to know if it can stand the test of time.

A couple of weeks ago, they did "Coco," which was a Katharine Hepburn vehicle -- her first musical. (These performances really show you the bare bones of the script and score.…

Jim Brochu to Appear at Christopher Reeve Benefit.

Born for Broadway was created by a girl, Sarah  Galli, still in college in support of her brother who is a high level quadriplegic. It always makes me happy when I see young people create something.

The idea is simple. Mix stars with new, upcoming talent, and present them cabaret-style. Sell tickets. Give the money to the Dana and Christopher Reeve Foundation.
This year, Kathy Lee Gifford is the host. And, btw, she's a very nice person. We met her once at Sardi's. She saw us trying to take a group photo, and, out of nowhere, offered to take the camera and do it for us. She didn't know us from Adam, but, before it was all over, she was sitting on Jimmy's lap.
But the cast list is fantastic. Directed by Marsha Milgrim Dodge, who is also directing Jim and the fabulous Josh Grisetti in "Roar of the Greasepaint" this next weekend at the York. I think Charlotte Rae said she's coming that Sunday and bringing friends. 
Here is the Theatremania link to the story about…

Drama Desk Trophy Ceremony

Winners of Drama Desk Awards for the 2009/2010 New York theater season received their engraved trophies at a cocktail reception in their honor last week at Il Punto Ristorante. BroadwayWorld was on hand to bring coverage of the trophy ceremony. Photo Credit: Genevieve Rafter Keddy

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Review of Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg.

Terrific, detailed review of the DVD of the superb documentary "Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg," made by Aviva Kempner. We have this DVD and it's really a MUST HAVE for anyone who loves television, history, and movies. Seriously. GO GET.

Included in the extra disk are interviews and stories that you cannot stop watching. This is a seriously great DVD.

It also includes information about Philip Loeb, who Jim talks about in "Zero Hour." From the review:

An excellent documentary about the talented comedienne, Gertrude Berg, who wrote, produced and starred in her own comedy series, first on radio and then very early on television, essentially inventing the family situation comedy for TV in the process, Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, has been released by Docuramafilms and New Video.  Directed by Aviva Kempner, the movie has the advantage of being about an entertainer, so that it can always cut to the entertainment to keep its energy up, but Berg’s life was rich and fascinating—as a …

Fran's Big Night Out.

Our friend, Fran, is, one of our favorite people in the world. She has overcome a lot in her life, including recent surgeries that left her immobile for a long time, so when she said she would be in town, and really wanted a New York night out, we said that another friend of ours had wanted us to go to Feinstein's for Mickey Rooney's 90th birthday party. He and his wife, Jan, would be doing their night club act.

Now, normally, though it might not seem like it, Jim and I aren't really much for going out and sitting in clubs. We much prefer to be home with our feet up, watching TV, working on our laptops and generally being quiet. But, for Fran, it seemed like the perfect plan. We brought along our actress friend, Barbara Spiegel, because she classes up our act, and we thought she and Fran might really like each other. And we invited Jeramiah Peay, who was our stage manager for The Big Voice and Zero Hour. (Jeremy's been working for hot theater producer, Ken Davenport).


Marian Seldes Visits Zero Hour.

After the matinee performance of "Zero Hour," I asked Marian Seldes, one of the greatest actresses of our time who, this past year, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Tony Award, what she thought.

She looked at me, deadly serious, and said, "Horrible. Just horrible."

I smiled, because I knew exactly what she meant as she continued...

"So horrible what happened. Those were all my friends."

I love the way an artist like her evaluates a play. She doesn't watch it. She feels it.

Week in Review.

This morning, at Christ Church Episcopal in Brooklyn, at the 11am service, we are going to debut another new arrangement. It's one I had to throw together yesterday, after having worked all week long on another.

Mostly, this week, we've been nesting. After having stuffed 25 years of our lives into 28 boxes -- 30, actually. On the day the junk guys came, we found four more drawers of stuff I had overlooked, but 28 sounds better.

The opening and unstuffing of the boxes, the repainting of the apartment, the careful placement of our pictures and keepsakes. The original Blue Angel poster, signed by Dietrich. Given to us by jazz pianist Stan Freeman, one of the great minds of the 20th century, who accidentally pulled Dietrich into the orchestra pit, thus ending her concert career.

Charles Pierce, who brought Bea Arthur into my living room on the day I was just out of the hospital that first time, when I couldn't lift my head off the pillow. I woke up from a dream where I thought…

Look Who Came To Dinner.


Jim Does Greasepaint Oct 1-3 at the York.

Only five performances. JIM BROCHU and JOSH GRISETTI are playing the iconic roles of "Sir" and "Cocky" in a classic show that rarely gets revived because the book is kind of a kind of fantasia on power and class warfare in England. The two characters appear on the stage and play a game where Sir can change all the rules. It was hard for American audiences in 1965 to embrace it, but it had two hit songs -- and many others that have become theater standards.

In this day and age, with Wall Street and Washington changing all the rules all the time, it actually makes more sense.

Social norms and qualms are thrown out the window inĂ‚ The Roar of the Greasepaint—The Smell of the Crowd, a musical about 1960s London, where two gentlemen of different classes are always trying to get the best of each other and neither truly win. This comic musical premiered on Broadway in 1965 and includes the standards“Feeling Good” and “Who Can I Turn To?”

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 won…

Broadway Grab Bag.

For people in New York, or coming to New York, Zero Hour is participating in a little trivia grab bag contest being put on by Here's the press release:
Announces “Broadway Grab Bag” Giveaway Contest! announces the “Broadway Grab Bag”
Giveaway Contest! From September 13th, 2010 through October
10th, 2010, visit each week, click on
the contest page, and using the site,
answer the ten trivia questions (new questions posted each week)
to be eligible to win one of four weekly Broadway “Grab Bag” prize

“GRAB BAG” Prizes offered will include a mix of some of the following:

A poster and playbill signed by the cast of Billy Elliot on Broadway;

Two tickets to one of the Off-Broadway Shows: Zero Hour, All
American Girls, Danny & Sylvia, the Danny Kaye Musical,
Dietrich & Chevalier and Black Angels of Tuskegee;

Memorabilia from Broadway cast members of Jersey …

"When You Care" new live recording.

For those who have just been clamoring for the recording I made of myself singing "When You Care," I've put it up as a free download from Google Docs. The choir is from the Christ Church Episcopal of Bay Ridge. Fr. Jeff Tamblin is the preacher there, a very gregarious, kind and generous man who, himself, loves music and loves to sing.

You know, I never know how to address clergy at these fancier churches. My dad never cared for titles or even the idea of being "elevated" over the congregation in any way. In fact, I remember one time he pointed at his driver's license and said he didn't even like to see "Rev." on that.
I inculcated this attitude early in life, later to discover it has a fancy name, "egalitarianism."
In the South, when you see the preacher, you say, "Hey, preacher!" in a big Gomer Pyle voice. Not "Hello, reverend" as if going to funeral. At least, I always did. 
The first time I got into trouble for doi…

WTC Searchlight on 9/10/10.


Quran/Bible Burnings: My Opinion

People have been asking me my opinion on a publicity-seeking "Christian" pastor who has managed to gain world-wide attention for an upcoming Quran-burning, especially now that America's other publicity-hungry "Christian" gay-hating Baptist family is protesting that the media ignored their Quran-burning activities.

So let's look at this rationally. To burn a Bible or a Quran means nothing, physically.

After you've burned one, you can go to the book store or a hotel room and find another. It's not like Rev. Handlebar is burning the last one on earth, though would be a great Twilight Zone episode -- where the last people on earth are a bunch of religious zealots holding the last copies of each other's holy books hostage with matches and kerosene.)

In an earlier era, he would have been just one lone nutcase with bad facial hair, making money off the locals and moving from town to town after everyone got tired of his shtick. But, now he's got an …

Cloud Over Ground Zero Searchlight.


How I Got "My Own Choir and World Class Conductor."

"So, what have you been up to?" Said Miss E., who is one of my new sophisticated New York friends, who's involved in opera and is also a food and wine connoisseur.

"Well," I said, "I have a choir with whom I sing one of my songs each week, under the baton of a musical director who was a protege of Leonard Bernstein."
Her jaw dropped."You're kidding! How did you manage that? You've only been here for how long?"

I laughed. 
"Officially, since last Sunday. But we've been here for awhile with Zero Hour."
"But, how..."
"Well, once we moved Zero in, I decided that I was going to treat New York as if I were a Freshman in college. Mark is the most talented and knowledgeable person I know. So I decided to attach myself to him and learn everything I can."
"Very smart."
"Happily, there's a mutuality about it. He respects me as a writer. In fact, how it started was he asked me to sing a solo at this …

Only ln NY?

It's a store in the Village called Pop Mart. It only has one product. Can you tell what it is? Hint: The cheapest one costs $3.75.

"When You Care" Choral Arr. This Morning.

This morning, at Christ Church, Bay Ridge Episcopal in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, I'm going to sing "When You Care" during the morning liturgy, which starts, at 10am. And, behind me, if there's enough to rehearse it, the church choir will be singing the actual original arrangement which you hear on "Buddy's tape" in the final scene, and which you hear on the Original Cast Album and my Bonus Round Sessions CD.

I hadn't announced it earlier because I wasn't sure I would find it. But I did. It was a photocopy of a photocopy of the original, hand-written (more like, hand-scrawled) by Alan Satchwell -- and I've spent all week deciphering it. (Does anyone know where Alan is? I'd love to find him and reconnect.)
I'm now off to meet Mark for rehearsal. But I have a great story about that choir. I'll tell it when I come back.

Ayatollah Fears Musical Insurgency!

I'm trying to imagine a country without music, but destroying music and art is exactly what the despots, who disguise themselves as "religious leaders," do. From the Wall Street Journal, Terry Teachout reports:
According to the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's maximum politico- spiritual leader, the promoting and teaching of music—not just Western music, but any kind whatsoever—is "not compatible with the highest values of the sacred regime of the Islamic Republic."  The Journal's Eric Felten suggested the other day that such attitudes are at bottom political. Music, Mr. Felten writes, "somehow manages to make despots nervous." Why? Because "it affects people profoundly and can't be controlled," which would explain why authoritarians of all stripes look upon it as trouble incarnate.TROUBLE! Right here in River City!! And here you thought my idea of a "musical insurgency" was just a clever marketing ploy? Do you think we sh…

Happy 200th Off-Broadway Perf. for Zero Hour

It happened on the day I arrived back in New York. Zero Hour hit its 200th performance, Off-Broadway. Don Myers, our beloved former stage manager, brought a cake. (We love our Don).

Philip Loeb Panel Emphasized his Activism, Kindness, Humor & Obstinacy.

Philip Loeb was one of the most beloved "TV dads" during the 50s, when he was unjustly named as a communist on a publication called Red Channels, which sought to expunge any possible "commies" from being able to work in TV and film. Eventually, Philip, who was living with Zero and Kate Mostel, committed suicide. Or, as Anna Berger put it, at the panel discussion, sponsored by Actors Equity and the Museum of Jewish Heritage last night, "He died of a disease called the blacklist."

I met the panel earlier that day at O'Lunney's, an Irish bar near Actor's Equity headquarters. Then, we adjourned to the Philip Loeb Room at Actor's Equity. Phil was a fiery activist on behalf of actors, especially concerning issues such as paid rehearsal time, hot running water in dressing room areas, allowing black actors full equality, etc.