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AN EVENING WITH WITH ZERO MOSTEL
31 July 2006
I don't often have the chance to socialize with dead celebrities, so I couldn't pass up the chance to spend an evening with Zero Mostel, who has been dead since 1977.
I love having wonderfully creative, talented friends. Steve's partner Jimmy (Jim Brochu) is a playwright, an actor, a singer, and in his spare time, "God." Such a towering presence. I have seen him do the minor role of "Jim in the booth" in The Last Session, and of course I have watched him and Steve develop and perform The Big Voice all over the country.
Now Jimmy, who seems to have "known them all" from Ethel Merman to Lucille Ball, has written an homage to one of his heroes, the great Zero Mostel, whom he met when Mostel was doing Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum on Broadway. The two developed a casual friendship.
The one-man show is called Zero Hour and it has just extended its run at the Egyptian Arena Theatre in Hollywood. A "Critics Choice" by the L.A. Times, the show has received great reviews from everyone, including Theodore Bikel, who wrote "Brochu has brought back to us the memory of a volcano that was thought to be extinct."
How could we not go? So we planned a whirlwind weekend. On Friday afternoon, I took Sheila to a new kennel, since our old one was full up. That's a subject for the video of the day. Fortunately, I had remembered to bring my camera this time. (Note: Blip is having problems, so there is no .mov version at the moment. Clicking on the photo doesn't work, so you have to click to download from YouTube. I will eventually get a .mov file up)
Then on Saturday morning, we went to the Sacramento airport and caught an almost empty flight to Bob Hope Airport, in Burbank. We drove to my friend Pat's house, near the airport, and from there made arrangements to meet our friend Michael for lunch at a place called Bahia Caporalis.
Michael works for Fox studios and his special area of expertise is taking those old movies that everybody loved off of VHS, cleaning them up, and making sure you have beautifully restored DVDs to rent from Netflix or Blockbuster or wherever you rent/buy your videos. He also loves theatre.
Pat was the music editor for Walker, Texas Ranger and also has been working in the TV/movie industry ever since the days of the animated shorts of Gumby. It was great fun listening to the two of them compare notes. We sat and talked and laughed for about 2 hours, I think.
Walt and I took naps in the afternoon while Pat snuck in to check her e-mail, and then we were off to Hollywood for dinner at Musso & Frank's.
Established in 1919 this may be Hollywood's last surviving restaurant from the golden age, when all the Hollywood elite would stop in for dinner in the wood-paneled dining room. They say you can still catch the likes of George Clooney there today, but George was not having dinner with us this night.
While Pat and Walt were indulging their disgusting love for liver with a big plate of liver with onions and bacon (Walt requested no onions on his), I, still full from my big chili rellenos from lunch, ordered fresh cracked crab. You know how I love crab.
I can truly say this was, hands down, the best crab I've had this year, with big legs filled with flavorful meat, and instead of giving you the body in a lump, they sliced it into four separate 1" slices, which made getting the meat out so much easier. It was a light dinner, but absolutely perfect. I'd go back again, if we lived in Hollywood!
Then it was time for the main event. Amazingly, as I look back on my photos, I took NO photos at the theatre and in the entire weekend, less than 10 minutes of video, so the posted photos from Steve will have to do. And PLEASE check the 2 Zero Mostel videos under "Look at These Videos." One is a bit of Jimmy in performance, the other is a pre-performance video showing how he gets "the look" for the show.
He does an amazing show and while he is costumed to resemble Mostel, he doesn't go overboard on trying to do a perfect impression. Instead, he lets body movement and the stories he tells create the illusion, and do it beautifully.
I learned a lot about Zero Mostel and also a lot about the McCarthy witch hunts that I didn't already know. It's funny. It's touching. It's powerful. It's...Zero, and it's Jimmy.
If you are in the L.A. area, by all means GO SEE IT!!!! Get ticket information here: http://westcoastjewishtheatre.org/
Tomorrow I'll tell you what we did with outselves all day on Sunday.
PHOTO OF THE DAY