Babes on Broadway?
We haven't heard the last from Medea, the Musical. John Fisher's cutup romp ended its nearly three-month run at the Lorraine Hansberry Sept. 30. But according to Fisher's producer, Jon Zimmerman, the ham-happy Sassy Mouth Players will reopen Nov. 17 at the 200-seat Bayfront Theater, where Medea will play in repertory with another Fisher comedy, The Joy of Gay Sex, through December, perhaps beyond. “They sort of want us as a resident,” Zimmerman explains, sounding a note of optimism that Bob Martin, general manager of the nonprofit Bayfront and Cowell theaters at Fort Mason, does not contradict: “There's a possibility to extend the run into January-February.” Though Martin emphasizes that his organization is not promoting exclusivity, “depending on Fisher's output and our shared box office … our goals could mesh. The bottom line,” he elaborates, “is that if there's good work in the Bayfront, it's good for Fort Mason.”
What's good for Fort Mason may be good for Gotham, too. The 29-year-old Zimmerman reports that he has snagged another venue for Medea: the off-Broadway Westbeth Theater. Now, he notes with Mickey Rooney zeal, it's a simple matter of raising the $50,000 to $70,000 to deliver cast, crew, and costumes to New York City next May. “That's really very little,” Zimmerman enthuses.
As wide-eyed with wonder as Zimmerman comes off, he's a serious promoter with a couple of hit shows under his belt (he also produced Joy, which premiered early this year at the Bayfront) along with a six-year track record in New York as an actor (mostly TV and commercials). He returned to the Bay Area (his family is from Marin and Sonoma) a couple of years ago to finish his degree in peace and conflict studies at UC-Berkeley. While there, he acted in a Fisher-directed production of Guys and Dolls; he and Fisher remained friendly, and when Zimmerman saw a campus production of Joy, he says, “I fell out of my seat.”
Unemployed yet looking for work, he formed Air Zimmerman Productions and began fund raising to mount the S.F. production. But by the time Joy closed in early May, Zimmerman was negotiating the Hansberry debut of Medea. Buoyed by good reviews and audiences averaging 120 a night, he continued extending the show — and keeping the cast of 15 employed, with their nightly share ranging from $25 to $55. “Everyone gets a percentage of the pie — that's a reason we keep putting up shows. … The actors have a home.” Though he credits Fisher with creating the ensemble (as well as a cultlike following among theater buffs), Zimmerman takes no small pride in his own role as producer: “I'm happy creating the deals and seeing them successful.”
By John Sullivan