This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

11Mar/14

CHARACTER MAN

(photo by Carol Rosegg)

Jim Brochu looks back at his long life in musical theater in CHARACTER MAN (photo by Carol Rosegg)

30th Street Theatre at Urban Stages
359 West 30th St. between Eighth & Ninth Aves.
Wednesday – Monday through April 6, $35
212-868-4444
www.jimbrochu.com
www.urbanstages.org

Award-winning actor and playwright Jim Brochu pays tribute to the Broadway character actors of old in his charming one-man show, Character Man. Brochu, who won a Drama Desk Award for his previous solo presentation, Zero Hour, in which he portrayed Zero Mostel, this time tells his own story, about growing up in the theater surrounded by such character actors as Jack Gilford, Lou Jacobi, Jack Albertson, George S. Irving, Barney Martin, Jack Klugman, Robert Preston, and his mentor and longtime friend, two-time Tony winner Davy Burns. As Brochu shares intimate tales of his childhood and career, with a focus on his relationship with his father — including how Joan Crawford almost became his stepmother — old photos and video appear on three screens hanging from the ceiling. Brochu moves across the small stage, relaxing in a red theater seat (that matches his tie and pocket square), sitting at a dressing-room makeup table, or walking to the back, where he mimics selling orange drink at the Alvin Theatre, his first job in show business. Each vignette features a related Broadway tune accompanied by Carl Haan on piano, among them “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid” from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, “(Ya Got) Trouble” from The Music Man, the haughty “The Butler’s Song” from the ill-fated So Long, 174th Street, and, perhaps most appropriately, “Mr. Cellophane” from Chicago, in which he sings, “And even without clucking like a hen / Everyone gets noticed, now and then / Unless, of course, that personage should be / Invisible, inconsequential me!” Such is the character man’s fate, never to be the famous star, although Brochu has crafted a witty and poignant little musical memoir that deservedly puts him front and center. Character Man continues at Urban Stages through March 30; there will be post-show spotlights the next three Wednesdays, looking at David Burns with Sondra Lee and Lee Roy Reams on March 12, Jack Gilford and Zero Mostel with Joe Gilford and Josh Mostel on March 19, and current character actors with Richard Kind and Tony Sheldon on March 26.

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