Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Zachary Maitlin is going to be a star.

Zachary Maitlin as Oliver. Irish Rep benefit at the Shubert.
I was standing in Shubert Alley just after the Irish Rep's annual big musical all-star fundraiser, held at the Shubert Theater. Two friends of ours from Chicago were in, visiting. Two highly talented directors.

Zachary Maitlin, Charlotte Moore,
Music Director Mark Hartman.
"Where did they find that kid?" he asked." I never see this show done by someone so naturally himself. Usually it's done by some older boy who's small, and who's a real Broadway type." Meaning, someone who looks "trained."

Zachary had this unabashed ability to just stand and be himself. Quiet. Unassuming. Real. Would that we all had the ability to just stand and be ourselves, quiet and unassuming.

I thought, wait. That sounds like the bonus round! How can a kid this young already be in the bonus round? Or is this how we start, and then we circle back around and find it again?

(Anyway, for the record, I'm not professionally associated with this kid, nor is this some kind of publicity stunt for anyone. I don't know if he had a manager or an agent, or they just found him. But these benefits rarely get press or reviews. In the case of the Irish Rep, they do this once a year. Find a great old musical and stage it with full orchestra and Broadway stars. And I thought, if he really is just a kid, this will give the relatives something to coo over.)

Jim Brochu, Zachary Maitlin, Dewey Caddell.
This is a benefit Jim loves doing. A couple of years ago, "Brigadoon." He wanted to do it last year, but he was doing "Zero" out of town.

For us, too, it feels like a family affair. Mark Hartman, the musical director is not just a friend and one of the most skilled and talented men in New York, but he also manages to be one of the kindest people in the Broadway community, a trait he shares with Brian Stokes Mitchell, who was playing Fagin. Brian, or Stokes, and we go way back to Los Angeles and a musicals writing course we took together one summer.

I don't know Melissa Errico or James Barbour that well, so I can't speak for them. I don't need to. Their powerful performances spoke for themselves. That same friend who noticed Zachary said, "I never realized how good she is. I guess she just needs that one starring vehicle."

The list of first class musicians who would do anything for Mark, like learning, rehearsing and then performing in a benefit on their night off, countless. This is why nights like this are so special. This is why fans fly in from all over the country just to donate their time in the chorus. Included in this fabulous ensemble, was an entire boys choir from Philadelphia en route to sing for a Nobel Prize winner's presentation, the Keystone State Boychoir.

Since I came to musicals later in life, "Oliver" was not really a part of my cultural DNA, though I was vaguely aware of the big songs from the show, "Food, Glorious Food" and "As Long As He Needs Me," I don't think I ever really saw it. I remember the movie, kinda.

What you cannot describe is how these songs sound with the full orchestra. Those strings! Wow, I can feel them in my body! It's so rich and full and natural and real. All those voices filling the theater.

Good guys. Bad guys. Bad girls turned good and murdered for it. And Jim Brochu coming in at the last minute and saving the day. What could be be bad?
John Treacy Egan and Kathy Fitzgerald achieved the impossible:
They stole the show completely away from the children.
rehearsing "Oliver!" Irish Rep benefit. Shubert Theater NY 2012
James Barbour, Zachary Maitlin, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Lance Chantiles-Wertz
rehearsing "Oliver!" Irish Rep benefit. Shubert Theater NY 2012

Brian Stokes Mitchell rehearsing as Fagin in "Oliver!"
Irish Rep benefit. Shubert Theater NY 2012

Melissa Errico
rehearsing "Oliver!" Irish Rep benefit. Shubert Theater NY 2012
James Barbour murders Melissa Errico.
rehearsing "Oliver!" Irish Rep benefit. Shubert Theater NY 2012
Jim Brochu and Zachary Maitlin rehearsing "Oliver!" Irish Rep benefit. Shubert Theater NY 2012

Curtain call of the Irish Rep benefit Shubert Theater NY 2012
From my seat in the upper right corner of the Loge.
And, no, I did not shoot, nor try to shoot any video, so don't ask. 
After the show I stood in Shubert Alley. Then we went across the street to Sardi's. Jim has known Max, the owner, who began there as a dishwasher and is the coolest human being alive, for 40 years.

Shubert Theater 2012.

Shubert Alley.

"Hey, we're not on the bus!"
That's Broadway's legendary John McMartin at Sardi's after the show posing with Jim Brochu.
He is referring to an incident on a city bus. The day our incredible New York Times review
came out for "The Big Voice: God or Merman?"
He was reading it just as we stepped on -- he was headed to his own matinee --
 and he said something like "Kings of New York!"
Brian Stokes Mitchell and Jim chat after the show.
There is a picture of myself with my longtime TLS fan (and friend), TeKay TK. But it's on his camera. I'll post it when he sends it to me.

And that was our big day. And all through this, Jim is suffering from back pain, a pinched nerve in his shoulder blade that runs all the way down to his pinky. Stokes said he had the same thing. So, he showed Jim some exercises, and I get to be the nurse!

In fact, I think I hear my patient calling. Pardon me, Ethel. I'm wanted in surgery.


Bev Sykes said...

What did Jim do that saved the day?

Steve Schalchlin said...

He took Oliver home, of course!

Bev Sykes said...

OH! Mr. Brownlow. I was afraid he was Mr. Bumble.

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