Urban Stages Presents CHARACTER MAN, A MUSICAL MEMOIR, Now thru 3/30
Urban Stages Founding Artistic Director Frances Hill and producer Peter Napolitano present the World Premiere of Character Man as part of its 30th Anniversary season. Jim Brochu's new musical memoir begins an Off-Broadway run at Urban Stages Theatre (259 West 30th Street) tonight, February 28th, with opening night set for Wednesday March 5th. This limited run will continue through March 30th only. Robert Bartley directs, with musical direction by Carl Haan. Character Man will have scenic & video design by Patrick Brennan, lighting design by Meghan Santelli and sound design by Sean Hagerty.
Drama Desk Award winner Jim Brochu puts his stamp on an original musical valentine to the Great White Way. Character Man has a book by Brochu and the music and lyrics of Leslie Bricusse, Jerry Bock, Betty Comden, Stan Daniels, Fred Ebb, Adolph Green, Sheldon Harnick, Jerry Herman, John Kander, Bob Merrill, Anthony Newley, Stephen Schwartz, Stephen Sondheim, Jule Styne, and Meredith Willson, including the iconic songs of the Golden Age of the American Musical.
Character Man is a salute to the memorable character actors of Broadway, filled with hilarious theater stories and touching personal recollections. Sprinkled with juicy backstage lore, the show spotlights the careers of, among others, Zero Mostel, Jack Gilford, Jackie Gleason, George S. Irving, Barney Martin and Brochu's own mentor, two-time Tony Award-winner David Burns. "There would be no Broadway without these guys who supported the great stars and got the laughs without getting the girl. I began my own career as a character man at a time when I got to know these men and learn from them. David Burns was like a second father to me and I grew up backstage hanging out with him some of the others. They were amazing, dear, funny men and I don't want them to ever be forgotten," said Brochu.
Urban Stages is located at 259 West 30th Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues). Performances will be Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 7PM, Friday at 8PM, Saturday 3PM and 8PM and Sunday at 5PM. There will be an added performance on Tuesday, March 4th 7PM and no performance on Thursday, March 6th.
Tickets for all performances will be $35 (with low priced previews February 28th through March 4th at only $25) and available through SmartTix.com or by calling 212-868-4444. For more information, visit www.UrbanStages.org or call 212-421-1380.
Jim Brochu is the only actor in America to win New York's Drama Desk Award, the Washington D.C. Helen Hayes Award, the Los Angeles Ovation Award and Florida's Carbonell Award. He won these prestigious honors for Zero Hour, which he wrote and in which he portrayed the great Zero Mostel for over six hundred and fifty performances across the United States and Canada. Jim has appeared on Broadway in many special events, including Brigadoon, playing Andrew McLaren in opposite Christine Ebersole and Len Cariou, and Oliver!, taking on the role of Mr. Brownlow to Brian Stokes Mitchell's Fagin. Most recently Jim played Broadway's legendary Palace Theatre starring opposite Tony Sheldon in Broadway Backwards 8, directed by Robert Bartley. In Washington, DC he was Willy Clark to Theodore Bikel's Al Lewis in Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys and Harry Binion opposite Eddie Albert in Room Service. Brochu made his Off-Broadway debut in the 1968 American Place Theatre production of Endicott and the Red Cross by Robert Lowell, followed by Ephraim Kishon's Unfair to Goliath at the Cherry Lane. Recently, he starred in the Off-Broadway revivals of The Man Who Came To Dinner as Sheridan Whiteside and as Sir in The Roar of the Greasepaint; The Small of the Crowd at the York. He is the author of two books, ten plays and three musicals (The Last Session, Manhattan Clam Chowder and The Big Voice: God or Merman?) written with his partner of 30 years, Steve Schalchlin. His website is www.JimBrochu.com.
Robert Bartley (Director) is delighted to be working again with Mr. Brochu. In 2006, Robert created Broadway Backwards, now in its ninth year, which he continues to direct, choreograph and write, and has featured countless performers including Betty Buckley, Whoopi Goldberg, Len Cariou, Neil Patrick Harris, F. Murray Abraham, Bebe Neuwirth, Alan Cumming, Charles Busch, Tony Sheldon, Doris Roberts, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Florence Henderson. Last year, Robert directed Jim in the eighth edition of Broadway Backwards at Broadway's historic Palace Theatre. Other directing credits include The Cuban and the Redhead, for which he has co-written the book, music and lyrics with Danny Whitman (Los Angeles Festival of New American Musicals, Village Theatre, Revision Theatre, York Theatre Co. and the National Alliance for Musical Theatre), The Family Fiorelli (New York Musical Theatre Festival), The Tales of Custard (Algonquin Theatre, later transferring Off-Broadway to Daryl Roth's DR2 Theatre), Sailing Against the Current (York Theatre), Color Blind (NYMF), Hair (Peculiar Works' sequel to the Obie Award-winning Off Stage: East Village Fragments) and the Dallas premieres of a new play, Frequency of Death (Eisemann Center) and Xanadu (Watertower Theatre). Next fall, Robert will direct and choreograph the Off-Broadway premiere of Bed Bugs: The Musical, which workshopped last fall (Chernuchin Theatre). As an actor, Robert has played leading roles on Broadway in Miss Saigon, the national tours of Cats and Grease, Off-Broadway in Clue, the Musical and Cy Coleman's last musical, Exactly Like You, as well as regionally at Goodspeed Musicals, Coconut Grove Playhouse, the MUNY, Pioneer Theatre, Barrington Stage Company, Walnut Street Theatre, Theatre Under the Stars in Houston and Baltimore Center Stage. Films: The Producers and Disney's Enchanted. One of his most memorable experiences, however, was performing in an all-star, one-night-only concert of West Side Story alongside Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Whoopi Goldberg, Bette Midler, Beyonce and Chita Rivera. Robert is a proud member of SDC, the Dramatists Guild, AEA and SAG-AFTRA.
Carl Haan (Musical Director) most recently served as the asst. conductor for the national tour of My Fair Lady, produced by Cameron Mackintosh, and is currently teaching musical theater for Rosie's Theater Kids, an organization started by Rosie O'Donnell which enriches the lives of children in the NYC public schools through the arts. Broadway credits include Lestat, Broadway Backwards 5, 6, 7 & 8; Off-Broadway: Five Course Love, Miracle Brothers, We're Still Hot, Pirates of Penzance, On the Town. Regional: The Rocky Horror Picture Show with Nick Adams, The Last Five Years, The Yiddish are Coming!, Second City at Sea. Chicago credits: The Wild Party (LaChiusa Midwest premiere), Menopause: The Musical, Forever Plaid, Nine (Jeff nomination), Hello Muddah! Hello Fadduh!, Little Shop of Horrors, Into the Woods, and Passion.
Urban Stages celebrates its 30th anniversary this season. The award-winning not-for-profit Off-Broadway Theatre was founded in 1984 by Artistic Director Frances Hill. Over the past 30 years, Urban Stages has produced over 90 productions (mainly world premieres) most recently the world premiere of the critically-acclaimed comedy Honky by Greg Kalleres and the award-winning musical Langston in Harlem by Kent Gash & Walter Marks with Langston Hughes poetry. Langston in Harlem received a Drama Desk nomination for Best Actress, a John Callaway Award for Best Choreography and four Audelco Awards including Best Musical. Honky received a New York Times Critic's Pick and an Audelco Nomination for Best Actor. The play will be published by Smith & Krauss and licensed by Dramatists Play Service for upcoming Regional productions, and was named the Best Off-Broadway Play of 2013. The World Premiere of My Occasion of Sin by Monica Bauer led to its current run at Detroit Repertory Theatre. The New York Premiere of ReEntry by KJ Sanchez and Emily Ackerman (2010) is currently touring military bases and regional theatres across the country and the 2008 world premiere of the Joe Iconis musical ReWrite was critically acclaimed. Urban Stages' 2011 Musical Legends and annual winter music festivals have garnered several nominations and awards from the prestigious MAC Awards. The 2007 World Premiere of Eisa Davis' Bulrusher (2007) received two Drama Desk nominations, an Outer Critic's Circle Award, an Obie nomination, eight Audelco nominations and was considered for the Pulitzer Prize in drama. Our productions of Men On The Verge Of A Hispanic Breakdown, by Guillermo Reyes, and Minor Demons, by Bruce Graham moved on to commercial runs. Chili Queen, a play by newscaster Jim Lehrer, transferred to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The majority of works developed at Urban Stages have had further productions commercially, regionally, and abroad. Numerous projects developed at Urban Stages have been adapted into film and television projects, including Scar by Murray Mednick, Conversations with the Goddesses by Agapi Stassinopoulos, and Cotton Mary by Alexandra Viets. Urban Stages has a consistent history of discovering new writers and introducing their plays into theatrical repertory.
Frances Hill (Founding Artistic Director) began her theatrical career in California as an actress. Since 1983, Ms. Hill has overseen more than 600 staged readings/workshops and 90 productions of new works for the stage and directed over 30 workshops and productions. Her favorite directing credits include Gino DiIorio's Apostasy, Roma Greth's Our Summer Days, Jim Lehrer's Chili Queen (directed at Urban Stages and Kennedy Center), John Picardi's Seven Rabbits on a Pole and The Sweepers (directed at Urban Stages and Capital Rep); Comfort Women by Chugmi Kim (Urban Stages 2004), 27 Rue De Fleurs, and My Occasion of Sin. Two of her plays have been produced, Our Bench and Life Lines. Under the guidance of Ms. Hill, Playwrights' Preview Productions/Urban Stages have moved two plays into commercial Off-Broadway successes: Minor Demons opened the Century Center Theater and Men on the Verge of His-Panic Breakdown won an Outer Critic's Circle Award while playing to capacity audiences at the 47th Street Theater. Urban Stages' African American Poets as Playwrights won eight Audelco nominations and Coyote On a Fence received two Drama Desk nominations and a Pilgrim's Project Award. Eisa Davis' Bulrusher was one of three nominees for a Pulitzer Prize. 2010 production of Langston in Harlem garnered several Drama Desk nominations, a John Calloway Award, several Audelco nominations including a win for best music production of the year, along with several other awards.
Peter Napolitano (Producer, Character Man) received his training at NYU School of the Arts - The Experimental Theatre Wing, which led to working with two groundbreaking Off-Broadway theatres, Charles Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Co. and The Glines. In musical theatre, he was lyricist of Tropicana, book and direction by the legendary George Abbott, produced by Musical Theatre Works; and lyricist/librettist of The Lady in Penthouse B, music by Matthew Ward, produced "Mufti Style" by the York Theatre, starring Nancy Dussault. A member of the prestigious BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, he is currently writing the book and lyrics of That Way and Pinocchio of Chelsea, with composers Barry Levitt and Mark Janas, respectively. For his recent work in virtually every major NY cabaret venue, he received the BMI Bistro Award (director) and three MAC Awards (director, lyricist, producer). Associated with Urban Stages since January 2011, Mr. Napolitano has produced Musical Legends, My Occasion of Sin and Character Man, three annual Winter Rhythms music series and has directed numerous readings and concerts including A Centennial Celebration of Mary Martin. Other highlights of his varied career: directing the early work of Charles Busch; guest lecturing at Manhattan School of Music; contributing editor of The Blockbuster Guide to Movies on Video (Dell); and author of a Modern Love essay for The New York Times.