This afternoon I saw a delightfully whimsical one man show entitled Character Man, written and acted by Jim Brochu.
Having seen Mr. Brochu do his show Zero Hour, based on the life and art of Zero Mostel, and doing it to the nines, I pretty much knew I was in for an interesting afternoon at Barrington Stage 2.
I was not disappointed.
Mr. Brochu grew up selling Orange Ade in the backs of Broadway theatres while getting to know many actors who were, as the title suggests, 'Character Men'. Some years ago a vocal student of mine in New Jersey who was getting started in the theatre world of New York City told me that he was advised 'Wait until you're 40. You are a character actor. That's when you will come into your own.' He has been teaching theatre in a high school in the south for many years and acting, as a character man, I'm sure, every chance he gets.
This is the same thing Mr. Brochu was told. Wait until you're 40.
In the meantime he had the opportunity to meet many actors including some great character men. Zero Mostel, Jack Gilford, Sid Silvers, Jimmy Cagney, to mention a few. He had some great quotes from some of the greats: Bert Lahr, on entering the Player's Club and being asked 'How are you today, Burt?' Burt answered 'Talented!'
Mr. Brochu's father, a very handsome man, who was on Wall street, dated Joan Crawford for several years. Mr. Brochu and others encouraged them to get married. 'What could be nicer than having Joan Crawford for your mother?' he asked (with a wink).
Mr. Brochu has played a number of character men on the stage including the Cyril Ritchard role of Sir in The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd. he was the winner of the New York Drama Critic's Award, the Helen Hayes Award, the Los Angeles Ovation Award, the Carbonell Award for 'Best Actor in a Play' for his performances in Zero Hour.
I must say it sometimes brought tears to my eyes as he spoke about these many wonderful actors, all of whom I had seen on Broadway in the days when I saw everything that was playing there. Theatrically, those were the good old days!