It’s a simple production about a complex man, Zero Mostel, whose theatre and film careers are the stuff of legend. He could be charming, impossible, hilarious and infuriating all at the same time. And the Drama Desk and Helen Hayes Award Winner Jim Brochu has him down pat.Zero Hour kicked off Barrington Stage Company’s Stage 2 season with previews and is running through June 5, 2011 at BSC Stage 2, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield, MA. Look for our review in a few days as it opens Saturday night May 21.
Zero Hour traces Mostel’s early days growing up on the Lower East Side as the son of Orthodox Jewish immigrant parents, through his rise as a stand-up comedian – from the Borscht Belt to Manhattan’s most exclusive supper clubs.
Mostel is remembered for his comedic genius and his definitive roles, but in the 1950′s he was equally known for his place on the infamous Hollywood blacklist. That reinforced his outlook as a keen observer of history and current affairs and one reason he is as relevant today as he was when he was alive.
“Humor is a sense of proportion and a power of seeing yourself from the outside,” he once said. He thought that “the freedom of any society varies proportionately with the volume of its laughter.” He saw through the political opportunists and deceptive legislation decades before it became so commonplace.
“Comedy is rebellion against that kind of piety which we may call the False Piety…against hypocrisy, against pretense, against falsehood and humbug and bunk and fraud, against false promises and base deceivers…against all evils masquerading as true and good and worthy of respect,” he observed. He could also get himself in trouble with his wit: “Romanian-Jewish cooking has killed more Jews than Hitler,” he once said. Through these and other wisecracks, we get to know Mostel in Zero Hour.
Set in Zero Mostel’s West 28th Street painting studio, a naive reporter attempts to interview the famously volatile actor, prompting an explosion of memory, humor, outrage and juicy backstage lore.
For his performance in Zero Hour, Jim Brochu received the 2010 Drama Desk Award for Best Solo Performance and a Helen Hayes Award for Best Actor in a Play. Zero Hour ran 14 months and played 238 performances Off-Broadway.
Zero Hour is sponsored by Joyce Bernstein & Larry Rosenthal. The Stage 2 Season Media Sponsor is Mid Day Live with Bill Sturgeon/WBRK 1340AM. Berkshire Living is the Season Opening Night Sponsor.
“Zero had a great influence on my life and I was fortunate to get to know him when I was first starting out. His life was filled with great laughter, great drama and great life lessons for all of us. He considered himself primarily an artist who took acting jobs to support his painting. I can think of no other person in show business who had more obstacles to overcome than Zero Mostel. He grew up poor. He survived the blacklist. A bus accident almost took his leg off. But he fought and survived, and then went on to win three Tony Awards.” – Jim Brochu
With partner/composer Steve Schalchlin, Brochu penned the award-winning musicals The Last Session and The Big Voice: God or Merman? In addition to his theatrical work, Brochu’s acting credits also include appearances on “All My Children,” “Mary Hartman,” “Cheers,” “Wings” and “Bram and Alice.” www.jimbrochu.com.
Zero Mostel earned Tony Awards for his performances in Fiddler on the Roof, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Rhinoceros and was also nominated for Ulysses in Nighttown. His film credits include The Front, Mastermind, Journey Into Fear, Fore Play, Rhinoceros, Marco, Once Upon a Scoundrel, The Hot Rock The Great Bank Robbery, The Producers, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and DuBarry Was a Lady.
Zero Hour will be presented at BSC Stage 2, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield, from May 18 through June 5 with performances Tues-Fri. at 7:30pm, Sat. at 4pm and 8pm, Sunday at 3pm. Additional performance on Fri., May 20 at 3pm. Opening Night: Sat., May 21 at 8pm. Please note there is no 4pm performance on Saturday, May 21. There will be a post-show discussion with Jim Brochu following the 7:30pm performance on Tuesday, May 24. Tickets: $15-$39. Seniors: $25 all matinees. Youth 18 and under or students with valid ID $15 all performances except Saturday evening. www.barringtonstageco.org
About Barrington Stage Company
Barrington Stage Company, a professional award-winning Equity regional theatre located in the heart of the Berkshires, in Pittsfield, MA, was co-founded in 1995 by Artistic Director Julianne Boyd. Barrington Stage’s mission is three-fold: to present top-notch, compelling work; to develop new plays and musicals; and to find fresh, bold ways to bringing new audiences into the theatre—especially young people. Barrington Stage garnered national attention in 2004 when it workshopped, and premiered William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin’s musical hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which later transferred to Broadway’s Circle-in-the-Square Theatre where it won two Tony Awards and played more than 1,000 performances. In 2009/2010 Barrington Stage produced the world premiere of Mark St. Germain’s Freud’s Last Session, which later moved Off-Broadway to the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater, where it resumed performances on January 14, 2011. For more information, log on to www.barringtonstageco.org.