They chose Ethel, not regular
There is more than one love story chronicled in the funny, tender and thoroughly entertaining two-man show "The Big Voice: God or Merman?" at the Actors Temple Theatre (339 W. 47th St.). One of them is between "Voice's" creators and performers, Jim Brochu and Steve Schalchlin, who play themselves in the musical memoir. The other is between the pair and the theater - a relationship that has changed their lives. They discover that the theater has helped them do the same for others, and anyone who loves the theater will relate - and should see this show.
The parallels between the men's early lives and experiences prove fascinating. Schalchlin, a Baptist from Arkansas, figured he'd be a preacher, but fell in love with music. The Brooklyn-born Catholic, Brochu, dreamed (seriously) of being the Pope - until he heard the legendary Ethel Merman on the "Annie Get Your Gun" LP (we've incorporated a shot of her in that signature role at left). Then, in 1959, he saw Merman in "Gypsy" at the Broadway Theatre. Click. "It was like church," he says, "but with energy."
The now-middle-aged men met on a cruise ship and made lives together in the theater, not the church. Like their long relationship, the show isn't all smooth sailing. But even when it meanders and occasionally treads into too-much-information territory, the "Big Voice" captivates with its big heart.
Thank you, Joe!