Friday, January 29, 2010

A Taping For Lincoln Center.

Last night was, literally, the most responsive and exciting performance of Zero Hour since the run started. And, thrillingly, it was the night that Lincoln Center came down to tape the show for its theater archive (an honor afforded only what they consider to be the most notable works of the season).

The audience not only laughed at all the insults, quips and jokes that dot the opening sequences (which establish Zero's personality), but the individual set pieces, which detail his history, each got lengthy applause, almost as if he had just finished singing a song.

This is very unusual. In my experience, every time you stick a camera in a live theater, the audience goes totally dead, as if they resent the intrusion. For instance, last week, we shot some B-roll. Audience? Quiet.

Maybe it's that New York audiences who really love theater are finally finding us after the very short time we've been running. Perhaps those who loved it before are coming again, knowing that the end of this run, at St. Clement's, is nearly over. I saw several familiar faces.

Also in the audience was a group of college kids. They were knocked out by it.

I have a theory that this has something to do with the fact that Jim's performance is so raw, so real, and totally acoustic. The human voice, no matter how you dress it up, amplify it, detune it or electronify it, you can't improve the visceral impact of the voice by itself, filling a great house.

You just can't.

There's a reason for this. It's because all of those fancy electronics? They were created with the specific goal of trying to duplicate the thing itself, the voice. The closer they get, the more impactful it becomes.

But the thing itself, the voice, is the perfection they're seeking.

Combine that with a great stage actor, like Jim Brochu, who knows how to use his body and his voice -- for the two are intertwined -- and you have the experience of a lifetime. Seriously.

This is from the stage manager's report. And remember, Don Myer is not writing for the press. It might even be confidential, but I'm going to quote from it anyway until someone tells me to take it down. This is what he wrote to the production team. This is not a press release.

Jim gave a mind blowing performance tonight and audience could not have been more exuberant in all of their responses to his performance. Truly a phenomenal night of theatre for everyone privileged enough to be involved in this production and for everyone fortunate enough to be sitting in the audience. Jim received a rousing standing ovation during the curtain call that brought him out for a second call after he had already closed the door of the set and left the stage.
And now it's preserved forever.

The line of people who came back to the dressing room after the show stretched all the way down the hall and out the door into the lobby. Old friends of Jim's, old friends of Zero. One man last night worked with Zero during Ulysses in Night Town in the original production, where you had to go up a rickity staircase. (Jim talks about it in Zero Hour).

Another was the group of college students. (He gave them the painting he created that night).

And more.

I would have taped all of this last night, but the battery on my camera was out, due to the fact that he had made an appearance earlier in the day at St. Francis College, his alma mater. (A video blog to come).

So, Sunday matinee is the last performance until we re-open down in Union Square at the DR2. We're gonna stay in New York, try to see some museums, and just give him a break. He even suggested last night that he might do a little tinkering with the script. Our stay here has brought new insight into Zero's life, more stories we never knew.

There's so much I want to say -- and will -- but, for now, I just wanted to mark this night. Jim was on fire. The audience was on fire. I even had hot wings at the burger joint across 46th street, so I was on fire. (I hear Union Square has some good food, too. Must investigate.)

But what a thrill be going out on this high note. In the dead of winter when all the other shows are in their "winter slump." It feels appropriate that I'll be performing New World Waking on the morning of the last show. More on that later, too.

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