by Joe Regan Jr.
MAC Award winner Steve Ross and Drama Desk winner Jim Brochu have been friends since the 1970s. They have done a lot of private parties together and their cabaret show, Two Guys and A Grand, was performed at the Laurie Beechman Theatre May 24. The full house was packed with Broadway and cabaret stars. Their first memory was Ross’ engagement at a seedy bar where he would play Friday and Saturday nights and Brochu and Stan Freeman would sit at the bar all night and lead the customers in the standards they sang.
Their opening number was Irving Berlin’s “Pack Up Your Sins and Go to the Devil.” This led Brochu to complain that although Ross was vocally like Fred Astaire he was singing too softly. Ross countered that Brochu was singing too loud…like Ethel Merman! This led to an Astaire/Merman medley, featuring at least nine songs, Ross singing the Astaire ones and Brochu belting out the Merman ones. They confessed that Astaire and Merman did appear on The Hollywood Palace together in this medley (which can be found on
Brochu revealed he would pay Ross to accompany him when he auditioned for Broadway shows. The number he sang was an Abe Burrows comedy number, “I’ll Bet You’re Sorry Now, Tokyo Rose,” with lots of l’s on the “r” sound. Somehow, he never got the part!
Of course, Brochu went into full Merman mode to belt out “Some People.”
Brochu talked about how the late David Burns took him under his wing and sponsored him at the venerable Players Club. Brochu amusingly discussed his application appearance which began with Burns introducing him to James Cagney! He went before the interviewing Board and the President of the Board (who was Roland Winters) and told him how much he loved his Charlie Chan movies. Another member of the Board was Alfred Drake who was shorter than Brochu thought! Brochu later sponsored Ross at that club.
Ross discussed Noel Coward’s The Girl Who Came To Supper which took place during the Coronation. At the end of the second act, Coward created a part for music hall singer Tessie O’Shea who won the Tony that year for The Girl Who Came To Supper. Ross and Brochu did that London medley.
One of the best songs in the program was a song that Ross performed at Ted Hooks’ Backstage often. It was “Old Friend” by Gretchen Cryor and Nancy Ford from 1978’s I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road and Steve sang movingly.
Brochu then discussed how he was responsible for Ross getting that job at Ted Hook’s club as well as Ross’ appearance at the Plymouth in Coward’s Present Laughter. It ripped into the one-ups man duet “Where Would You Be Without Me” from Roar of the Greasepaint, Smell of the Crowd with Brochu doing the Cyril Ritchard part and Ross doing the Tony Newley role!
They returned to Stan Freeman and discussed his two Broadway shows, I Had A Ball and Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen and the blonde newcomer Karen Morrow, and Ross sang a moderate tempo of the title song, changing keys on the second chorus. The second show was a musical version of The Teahouse of the August Moon with music by Franklin Roosevelt Underwood. Brochu’s lifelong mentor, David Burns, was in it and he recreated one of Burns’ numbers, “You’ve Broken Fine Woman’s Heart” describing his wife’s heartbreak when he was thrown out of the service. The second song from the show was from the show within the show, a crazy ditty called “Call Me Back” which Ross and Brochu sold animatedly. They introduced Underwood in the audience.
Photos: Maryann Lopinto