Zero Hour is a sensitive and thought-provoking one-person play that explores the life of Zero Mostel, the Jewish comedic actor and Tony-Award winner. Mostel’s experiences with being black-listed during the 1950s and his success with Fiddler on the Roof and The Producers are retold by playwright and actor Jim Brochu, a lifelong admirer of the famous comedian. Jim Brochu brings back to life Zero Mostel in Zero Hour. He re-creates the definitive backstory to this amazing performer's appearances in such shows as Fiddler on the Roof, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Mel Brooks' The Producers and many more. Brochu is both hilarious and poignant as he recounts Mostel’s big life - as a Broadway legend, a larger than life personality and the target of Hollywood blacklisting. Brochu won the 2010 Drama Desk Award of Outstanding Solo Performance and the Helen Hayes Award for the subtlety and honesty that he brought to the role in Zero Hour.
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About Jim Brochu: A native of Brooklyn, Jim Brochu produced his first show when he was 13 years old. Four years later, Jim was working on Broadway, selling drinks at the St. James Theatre during intermissions. He would go on to study drama at Carnegie-Mellon University and he got his B.A. in English at St. Francis College. Jim made his Broadway debut as Christopher Sly in a revival of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Jim Brochu was worked on and off-stage, featured in television commercials and programs such as All My Children and The Young and The Restless. Jim has written a number of plays including comedies The Lucky O’Learys starring Helen Hunt as well as Fat Chance with Virginia Capers. Jim now lives in New York City after living in Los Angeles for 22 years. However, Jim certainly can’t stay still. The talented playwright and actor has been traveling the world lecturing about the history of Broadway and performing in various theatrical performances. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Actors Equity Association, and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. His latest role as Zero Mostel is a personal achievement for the Broadway veteran, as the life of the Jewish comedian was of particular interest to Brochu early on in production. He brings a significant amount of personality and wit to the character, proving himself as the New York Times called him, the “Man of the Theatre.”
“Thank you for bringing back a volcano that we thought was long extinct”- Theodore Bikel
I don’t know how many hours Mr. Brochu, who also wrote the script, has spent in front of a mirror practicing his eye rolls and bellowing quips, but it has paid off. He’s the spitting image of the bearish Mostel, down to the strands of hair barely covering his head.
THE NEW YORK TIMES - Jason Zioman
“It all flows and provides plenty of big laughs as well as hushed drama. After a while, you stop caring whether a particular line is Brochu’s or Mostel’s; all you know is that you’ve been privy to the work of a great comedian."
THE NEW YORKER
"We owe Jim Brochu adebt of gratitude for Zero Hour, an extraordinary act of reincarnation that restores the outsize actor to us in all of his daunting dimensions. From the moment that Brochu spins around to face the audience, he is a Hirschfeld drawing come to pulsing life! You can’t help being swept up in the tornado of energy as Brochu’s star turn conjures forth a Zero larger than life and death.”
TIME OUT NEW YORK-- Critics Pick and FOUR STARS
“The rumors of Zero Mostel's death have apparently been greatly exaggerated. Jim Brochu recalls his subject so uncannily in looks, voice and anarchic spirit that one immediately wants to see him in revivals of "Forum" and "Fiddler." Thirty-two years after Mostel's untimely death, it's a pleasure to have him back on the boards."
THE NEW YORK POST
Zero Hour captures Mostel's rich contradictions in a loving but unvarnished homage as entertaining as the man himself. Jim Brochu seems almost fatefully destined to play Mostel. Brochu reintroduces us to the funny, fantastically contrary Mostel in all his biting intelligence and imperfection.
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
Zero Hour has the virtue of verisimilitude and Jim Brochu amply brings the hero to Zero. With his ample frame, expressive eyes and hair forced forward to cover a thinning scalp, Brochu looks spookily like his subject, for whom he's written the piece as a heart-engraved valentine. The vocal inflections, too, are absolutely impeccable. If you close your eyes, you'll swear you hear the Mostel of Brooklyn and Broadway, the late star who forever put a stamp on two of the plum roles of musical comedy's golden age: Tevye the Milkman in "Fiddler on the Roof" and Pseudolus, the conniving Roman slave, in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." Aping Mostel's impish charm -- those rolling rogue's eyes! -- and replicating his surefire timing, Brochu proves to be a worthy keeper of Mostel's outrageous flame.
THE WASHINGTON POST
On Zero Mostel - From Author Jim Brochu:
Zero Mostel considered himself a painter who acted rather than an actor who painted. In July of 1977, Mostel left his art studio on 28th street and began rehearsals to star as Shylock in Arnold Wesker’s revisionist Shakespearan drama, The Merchant. He would only play one performance in Philadelphia before his untimely death on September 8th at the age of 62. When I heard the news I thought back to the day when I first met the larger-than-life star.
It was 1962. I was a sophomore in high school, enamored with the theatre and lucky enough to have a mentor named David Burns. Davy was co-starring with Zero in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. I had no idea who Zero Mostel was when I first saw the show but was knocked out by the comedic force of nature that ruled over the stage of the Alvin Theatre.
I made my way backstage to see Davy and literally ran into Mostel who looked like he had just taken a shower in his costume – steamy and covered with sweat. I was attending military school and dressed in my West Point style uniform which caught his attention. “You must be General Nuisance. What do you want?” he snorted.
“I’m here to see Davy Burns,” I said. “You never come to see me!” he grunted as he brushed past me and disappeared down the dark hallway. The next week, I saw the show again, visited Davy and then went to Zero’s dressing room. He was reading the riot act to one of the actors who he thought had upstaged him. The funny man I loved onstage had become a screaming maniac and all I could do was stand back and cringe. The actor apologized and left. Zero looked at me with exploding eyes and said, “What do you want?” “To say hello,” I managed to articulate. His rage turned to total charm in a nanosecond. “Well, hello! Come in.” I sat in his dressing room as he asked me all sorts of questions - like why was I a fat kid in a military uniform? From that night until he left the show, whenever I came to visit Davy, I always spent time with Zero too.
On the second night of Fiddler on the Roof, I flew to New York from Pittsburgh, where I was studying drama at Carnegie Tech. I sat in the first row of the Imperial Theatre and was dazzled by the uplifting, heartbreaking performance that unfolded just a few feet away from me. I knew from Forum that Zero was a master comedian, but I didn’t know until Fiddler that he was a towering dramatic actor. He waved to me at the bows and I felt as though I had been knighted. Still drenched with sweat, he welcomed me into his dressing room like an old friend. I was so moved by his performance I found it difficult to talk.
A few years later, when I had become a professional actor, I ran into Zero on the street and asked him for an autographed picture of himself. He screamed at me, “You’re not worthy!” and went on his way. I was shocked - yet not shocked - because his behavior was as outrageous offstage as it was on. But he did accept an invitation to come see my off-Broadway debut in a show called Unfair To Goliath. The day after he attended, I found a manila envelope on my dressing table. Inside was an autographed picture of Zero signed, “To Jimmy, with my admiration…” You'll find that pciture at the top of this page.
Years later, I looked at that picture when I heard of his death and hoped that someday I could give back to Zero something of what he gave to me. Zero Hour is a tribute to the life of a man who overcame both physical and social obstacles to become one of most enduring giants in the history of the American Theatre. This show is for you, Zero – with my admiration.
Thank you for supporting The Lyric Theatre, see you at the show!