Saturday, March 22, 2014

Amazon On Demand is "backlogged"

Several people have complained that they couldn't find how to order a physical CD of "Tales from the Bonus Round" on the Amazon On Demand store.

I inquired at TuneCore after seeing, on their site, that Amazon is backlogged.

So, please forgive me for the delay.

It's not you.

You can still get it cyberly from all the big download and streaming sites. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Crying for Fred Phelps.

The Rev. Fred Phelps is dying, excommunicated.

As one who looked him eye to eye, I have this compulsion to go to wherever they bury the now excommunicated from his own church, Rev. Fred Phelps, and just sit down and cry.

Hold a Lamentation. Maybe hold one for the whole world while I'm at it. But, specifically, to mourn the life that could have been, had he not had a particular obsession.

(If you're not familiar with this story, he's the "Baptist" minister from Kansas who first got attention by protesting at funerals of dead gay kids, which got him some press, but then moved on to funerals of veterans.)

How sad a life, to have been obsessed with this one thing - gay folk - to the point that it drove him spiritually insane. Training his kids in it.

And then, at the end, (as the story goes, though no one is talking on the record) when his "Church Board" suddenly turns on his hateful daughter, a thing he created, he suddenly cries out to them for kindness. 

But they, totally consistent with what he taught them, excommunicated him.

I wonder if, lying there by himself, he ponders whether the hatred he just saw directed at him -- no doubt couched in theological justification -- was the same that he directed at us, those '"fags" (the only term he would ever use)? And whether doing unto others as you would never want done to you is violation of everything Jesus ever taught. 

It's Shakepearean.

An entire Christian culture based on hate. Fascinating.

Sometimes, to us, the whole Christian world does look like that. Like they just can't be cruel enough. That they have to slap us and demean us. Have to shun. Have to make invisible.

But we know feelings aren't fact. Just because something feels a certain way doesn't mean it's the reality. I know a Christian world that totally embraces us. Fred Phelps may have been the id of the opposite of that world, the Christian Homophobics, but most Christians eventually turned away from him when he went after veterans.

Why did he hate veterans? Because they represented a government and a world that didn't hate "fags" hard enough. He was punishing them for not hating with the fervor that a "True Christian" would hate.  

Poor Fred dying alone and despised. Destined to burn in hell, by his own definition because he stupidly asked him own acolytes for kindness.

Fred, you don't get kindness when you teach that kindness is evil.

How utterly, utterly sad it all is.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday Thoughts by Jim Brochu.

Jim Brochu wrote on Facebook.
THROWBACK THURSDAY THOUGHTS: When I was a naïve young actor (now I’m a naïve old actor; I was thrown out of every acting class I ever took), I was told to visualize how I wanted to spend a perfect day and the dream would become reality.
I saw myself waking up knowing I had a show that night, then dash off to do a radio interview with one of New York’s wittiest theatre raconteurs, get to sing to an audience with a virtuoso at the piano, meet a fan who saw your show the night before and said I made her laugh, do the show, then hang out with legends and talk about theatre, then go home with my best friend who just happened to have a camera. Ah, well. I know those days are gone forever. But I had a nice day anyway.
I was the best friend with the camera.

So let's review:

 I was told to visualize how I wanted to spend a perfect day and the dream would become reality. 

We trudged around in the cold rain, lugging a bag with the camera.

I saw myself waking up knowing I had a show that night

I would say that qualifies as your own show in New York City. BTW, he's wearing my tie.

 then dash off to do a radio interview with one of New York’s wittiest theatre raconteurs

Seth Rudetsky interviews Jim.
For those of you who live in places, both physically and culturally where the rare and hysterically comedic gifts of Seth Rudetsky aren't appreciated -- you're not a theater queen -- I feel sorry for you. He is exceptionally witty and entertaining. He also has a show on Sirius Radio. So you can listen to Jim's spot all weekend.

True musical nirvana, though, was listening to Seth and Jim talk about Davy Burns. Seth has a great knowledge of the golden age of musicals, but somehow David Burns had slipped through under his radar -- the curse of the Character Man. When Jim started reeling off Davy's credits: Original Banjo in The Man Who Came To Dinner, Mayor in The Music Man, Senex in Forum, and Horace Vandergelder opposite Carol Channing in Hello Dolly, you could see his jaw drop.

But there was also that wonderful glee in his eye, the glee any true lover of musical theater and its history when they learn one more thing that helps to complete the puzzle that artform that brings such happiness.

Live theater cannot be duplicated, so all of it comes to us second hand.

 get to sing to an audience with a virtuoso at the piano,

Seth Rudetsky.
Did I mention Seth is also one of the best musicians in town? And they all sang along, too! And he has a hilarious musical running, too, called "Disaster!" a take-off on 70s disaster movies.

"We got trouble! Right here in River City!"

meet a fan who saw your show the night before and said I made her laugh

An unexpected fan says how she saw Character Man just the night before.
Seth Rudetsky and Jim Brochu.

do the show, then hang out with legends and talk about theatre,

One Wednesday nights, they are doing talkback sessions with theater historian, author, critic and columnist Peter Filichia. On this night -- the night of Davy Burns' death -- the talkback featured Sondra Lee, the legendary Jerry Robbins dancer. She originated Tiger Lily in Peter Pan, and Minnie Fay in Hello Dolly with Davy. And Lee Roy Reams, who starred on Broadway in 42nd Street and also the revival of Hello Dolly (with Carol Channing).

Sondra Lee, Lee Roy Reams, Peter Filichia, Jim Brochu.

Peter Filichia, Jim Brochu.

Sondra Lee.
"Davy Burns put on the same performance every night.
He never missed a line, a cue, an entrance or a punch line."

Sondra Lee.
"I didn't get to know him. He showed up on stage and then that's was it.
He was more of a guy's guy. Didn't hang out with the girls."

Sondra Lee was born in 1930.

Lee Roy Reams is legendary for his theater stories.

Lee Roy Reams laughs at something Sondra Lee is saying. Peter Filichia and Jim Brochu look on.

Sondra Lee, Lee Roy Reams.

Sondra Lee is a stunningly beautiful woman.

Jim Brochu.

Peter Filicia listening to Jim Brochu.

Peter Filichia.

Sondra Lee, Jim Brochu, Lee Roy Reams, Peter Filichia.

Ah, well. I know those days are gone forever. But I had a nice day anyway.

Yeah. Too bad he didn't get to fulfill his fantasy day. No wonder he got thrown out of acting class!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Joe McGinness, the famous crime writer, acted in my home made movie aboard a cruise ship.

Joe appears in a scene of one-liners at a round table right about 5:00.

8 years ago, we got our first digital video consumer grade camera and, because Jim Brochu, the most famous actor in the world, had a gig on one of the legs of a world cruise -- Sydney to Hong Kong -- we knew we wanted to document the trip, but find that most vacation movies are really boring. Here we are at Bla Bla. And here we are standing in front of the Bla Bla.

I mean we have all this location! That would cost a zillion dollars if you were doing a Hollywood film.

So, a friend suggested we think up a premise.

We thought glamorous Famous Actress from the 30s is on board and is hiding out.

It started with the flight attendants in their suite overlooking Sydney harbor. Then we start involving friends, then other passengers, and members of the crew. All in on the joke from the start.

But as we made it to the various ports, we ran into the most unexpected guest stars. For instance, touring a hotel in Brunei, we run into a public appearance by the Crown Prince of Brunei just as he was breaking off from a photo op.

The other entertainers and speakers on board were targets. Broadway star Tommy Tune makes an appearance. Alvin Shuster, former New York Times London Bureau Chief and longtime LA Times Executive Editor. He and his wife join in.

And Joe McGinniss, who passed away yesterday at 71. He was famous for having written about a famous crime, Fatal Vision. It was made into a movie. We were at lunch with him, former Ambassador to Iraq, Edward Peck and Robert Verdi, and the old famous Hollywood make-up artist.

We told them the premise, that we were looking for this famous actress, and they improvised their lines, building up the image and character of this movie star. No matter what anyone said about her, it became part of her mythology.

The whole thing may only be only funny to us, because it's a vacation video with a lot of friends, but when I heard he died, it made me very sad.

We tried making a follow-up movie, but it got bogged down in special effects.

The old British couple at the top of the film, we gave them that line to say and they were so adorable, it became the title slate of the film. He died on board several years later. They loved the sea, and they stayed together till the end. She even finished the cruise.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Discount tickets for Character Man for Wednesday night, March 12


Due to a temporary SMARTTIX GLITCH, it was not possible to buy tickets for the 3/12 performance. The problem has been fixed, so PLEASE try again. And because this show has a great TALKBACK scheduled afterwards with Lee Roy Reams, Sondra Lee and Peter Filichia joining Jim Brochu to discuss the late, great character man David Burns, Urban Stages is offering a ONE NIGHT ONLY DISCOUNT PRICE OF $20!!! That's more than 40% off! The code is CM20 and is good for WED., MARCH 12 7PM only. If you are a fan of classic Broadway musicals, here's your chance to hear living legends share their memories. Plus see a great show that the NY Times calls "solidly satisfying"'. Hope to see some old and new friends there! For tickets:

Opening Night in New York.

Joan Copeland, Arthur Miller's sister.
She got to knew Marilyn very well.
It is fun to be a part of an opening night in New York. It's also a lot of work.

My job was to greet people in the lobby and take photos. (I like having a task during things like this.)

So different from The Last Session opening in London, where The Big Party is not done. (In fact, what I do remember was the rather dignified -- but fun! -- gathering in the small bar area, just cast and crew members and their families. Oh, but how excited we all were! Then Rob Harris and Darren Day said some very nice things about me. I said nice things about him (and the rest of the cast) and that was it. Quiet, Lovely. Dignified. Like a church service. It was memorable and meaningful.)

But there is also something to be said for a star-studded gala at Sardi's, where the music is playing and everyone is celebrating in party fashion. A perfect venue for a true Broadway "Character Man."

We were on the second floor of historic Sardi's, overlooking 44th street. Big Windows. Streets filled with people getting out of the other shows. An ocean of humanity out on the street. It's so alive!

But earlier, we were down on 30th street at the tiny theater. I was greeting people in the lobby.

Sondra Lee, a dancer for Jerome Robbins who played Tiger Lily in the original Mary Martin Peter Pan.
Legendary dancer and director Marge Champion.
Broadway star and TV game show celeb, Anita Gillette.
The show is just so beautiful. (People were crying out loud after laughing their butts off. Do you remember the comedienne, Marilyn Michaels? She was sitting down front in a folding chair and was so taken, she would exclaim out loud with laughter or sobs. It was great!)

And Broadway star (and Aussie) Tony Sheldon, legendary dancer and director/choreographer Marge Champion, and Sandra Lee, who has a great life story and was in the original Peter Pan with Mary Martin. 92 and 94, and smarter than you'll ever be in your life.

Tony Sheldon, Jim Brochu, Character Man Director Robert Bartley.
And Brian Stokes Mitchell, the most nicest human being on earth who is also the most talented. We love watching him on the old Pyramids with Dick Clark. He's so good at playing the game. That's one of the disappointments of the current Pyramid, aside from the fact that I thought the contestant on one show was the celebrity.

Jim is in tears listening to Brian Stokes Mitchell's praise.
But it was also a tribute to Robert Bartley, who directed a young team in a small space to Broadway level work and to Don Myers, who stage manages everyone like a family. They all put their whole hearts and soul and time and effort into it to get every moment just right.

Carl Haan, the musical director, was thrilled when he saw "Marian Colby," Jennifer Bassey from "All My Children."

Carl Haan, Jim Brochu, Jennifer Bassey.
Producer Peter Napolitano with members of the
creative crew plus friends. 
Also celebrating was the excellent young team who put their whole hearts into it, and many hours of hard labor, doing whatever needed to be done. No one makes any real money from a gig like this, so we all pitched in and the "Mickey and Judy Putting On A Show" aspect made it that much more joyful and emotionally fulfilling.

It's an honestly beautiful show and the production design is just enough. No one wanted to overwhelm the story or the performer, not that any object (or human) could upstage Jim Brochu.

There are lots more of these photos at, so enjoy!

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Times Review is in.

And it's a smash. In fact, it's downright lovely. Daniel Gold even gives us a quotable, "Solidly satisfying evening. Walks down memory lane are rarely so inclusive and entertaining." Which, for the Times, is like a stadium roaring.

Aside from the personal gratitude one feels for this -- we were on tenterhooks all week waiting for it to come out -- it will give the show a chance to find its audience, which is not easy in a big city, where there are thousands of entertainment options every single night. Where voices in small not-for-profit theaters get drowned out because of the high price of ad dollars.

For Frances Hill and Peter Napolitano, it's also a victory for their artistic vision. It was absolute luck that, just as they were needing a show and had heard of it, Jim and I were booked at the Metropolitan Room together.

It also means I can focus now on my concert, which is only a week away! I'm not even sure if we've sold any tickets. Hey, a week is a lifetime in New York. It's just like election season.

I went to Facebook and put out a call for anyone who'd like to be in the Bonus Round Choir. We have exactly 12 chairs. I suppose some people could sit on the floor, or bring their own folding chair. But that's what we have.
Reader, you can be in the Bonus Round Choir, too, in our continuing "make it up as we go along" series. Just go to this folder. If you can't make this one, do the next! What the choir sings is going to be entirely improvised on the spot, but there are some guides. So, if you know the music, then you can figure out when to sing. It will be different for every show. 
I have used this crowd-sourcing choir idea for New World Waking, so I know it work. 

Meanwhile, buy your tickets now! Every show is a different show.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

March 12 in SF, Camarota/Manuel will sing New World Waking songs.

At Martuni's. March 12. 7pm to 8:45pm. 

Each month, Stephen Camarota and Dustin Manuel, two impossibly good looking and talented men, sing a program called "Songbook." This month the theme is Heroes and they intend to include selections from New World Waking.

Thanks, guys! Make a video!