We’re not a theater that’s big on Standing O’s. Maybe cause our ticket prices aren’t expensive enough (there often seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of money an audience has paid for a ticket and the extent to which they wish to congratulate themselves — and the performance — when it’s done, as if to say, “thank God it was worth it!), or maybe because we do so many new plays and what becomes a standing ovation most is the recognition that we’re in the presence of a legend — or a legendary performance in the making. Recent standing ovations on a nightly basis at Theater J have gone to Sandra Bernhard, Theodore Bikel, and Robert Prosky; though by no means the only hits we’ve had, the ovation has gone to bravura perfomers who come with a history.
Last night was the first DC performance of ZERO HOUR. It clocked in at an hour and twenty four minutes of bravura performance (not including the 15 minute intermission) and audiences LEPT to their feet at the conclusion. Which legend were they congratulating? Zero Mostel, with whom we thought we were in the presence of over the course of the evening, or was it the larger than life performance of Jim Brochu who offers a marathon tour de force? Or was it the inevitable fusion of both, as we paid respect to Zero’s legend and legacy and Jim Brochu’s stunning feat of recreation?
There certainly wasn’t anything cynical or self-serving about this standing ovation. It came from the heart. It came because people laughed and marveled, and were deeply affected by the tale of a genius artist put out to pasture prematurely by a government-initiated hysteria, and how Zero recovered after his blacklist ordeal and pushed his career to new heights?
Inspiration abounds here. As does political relevance. How glad I am that we waited until now — until this very moment — to bring Jim Brochu’s important play — and his stunning recreation of an American-Jewish genius — to our stage.
Two shows today — at 3 and 7:30 (the latter being the first of two Pay What You Can Previews… and how important these PWYC’s are for our community where pensioners on fixed incomes and, even more now, those who’ve lost a significant part of their income, can come and see great art, fully accessible to all, at a price of their own choosing) — and then our Town Hall Meeting Monday night at 8. We’re over 130+ people signed up for the event, so we’re really looking forward to the meeting, and the Season Sneak Preview, with some wonderful actors joining us to bring our artistic future into quick focus.
Forecast (x2): Doubly Optimistic.