In “Character Man” at Stage Door Theatre, Jim Brochu gives the impression that he just happened to stroll by the Coral Springs theater, wandered onto the backstagey jumble of a set, which – purely by chance mind you – reminded him of some wink-and-nudge stories he really ought not share, there being ladies and possibly impressionable grandchildren in the audience.
But share the stories and songs of Broadway character actors he does, for about 90 minutes with a 15-minute intermission. And spoiler alert: The Robert Preston/Dior and Joan Crawford ones are doozies.
They are a few, and I mean VERY FEW, clunkers though. The Charles Nelson Reilly video just doesn’t work, ending up a garbled mess on too-small-by-far video screens on either side of the stage. And whenever a song needs a little something extra, David Nagy on piano and Rupert Ziawinski on bass are Brochu’s right hand, left hand men.
A veteran showman himself and a raconteur of the highest order , Brochu manages to give off the insouciant air that he isn’t all that concerned about pacing or trying to conjure up some illusion that he hasn’t done this a gazillion times.
But in this salute to the unsung song and dance men – David Burns (“Hello Dolly,”), Jack Gilford (“A Funny Thing…”), Zero Mostel (“Fiddler on the Roof”), Barney Martin (“Chicago” and Seinfeld’s dad) and others – he brings these men forth and gently sends them into the audience to grab us and squeeze us in a wonderfully warm bear hug.
“Character Man” plays through Aug. 11 at the Broward Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Road, Coral Springs. 8 p.m. Fridays - Saturdays; 2 p.m. matinees Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays. $38 tickets. Contact: 954-344-7765 or StageDoorTheatre.com.