Tom Hewitt Returns to La Jolla Playhouse
Tom Hewitt is bringing his super voice and talents back to La Jolla Playhouse! We’ve seen him here in "Zhivago" and "Dracula: The Musical" and this guy is Tony and Drama Desk-nominated for a reason. Hewitt has played diverse, powerhouse roles across the nation from Broadway (Pontius Pilot in "Jesus Christ Superstar" and Frank N. Furter in "Rocky Horror") to smaller roles in various regional productions and national tours. On television you may have caught him on "Law & Order," "Third Watch," "Fraiser" or "All My Children."
So what happens when you put top-notch veteran Hewitt together with three-time Grammy Award-winning psychedelic rock band, The Flaming Lips and Director Des McAnuff? Good question; something wild, unique, totally out there. Something newly commissioned by the La Jolla Playhouse and named "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots," theatre so unique even Tom Hewitt can’t quite describe it.
"Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" comes from The Flaming Lips’ 2002 album of the same name. In the show’s description it talks about a young artist, Yoshimi, fighting for her life in a fantastical robot world. How would you describe this show?
I really have no reference point, I guess it is sort of like an opera-like The Who’s Tommy. It’s sort of like a rock video, it is very, very unusual. When we are in rehearsals we keep wondering what will people think? What will audiences say? There is so much choreography that is based on special effects. We are just getting into the tech rehearsals so all of the scenic elements are being introduced. What was once an abstract movement now has the technology behind it, this show is really breaking new ground. My recommendation: Come with a completely blank slate and an open mind. I don’t want to do any spoiler alerts, but we are so looking forward to incorporating the audience into this visual storytelling. The costumes, sets, lights, it is so exciting.
I’ve noticed a lot more creative use of technology in shows. How is technology changing live theatre?
Technology is making people re-examine what is theatrical, we are looking at how to keep it alive
and current. This show is all about technology; robots and computers are used to create beautiful scenic effects. What’s wonderful, is that there is also this very human story-the technology serves to magnify a basic, beautiful and touching human story.
You have played incredible roles and received great acclaim. What about this script, this show, caught your interest?
While I was performing in "Jesus Christ Superstar," Des McAnuff sent me a treatment for the
show that included The Flaming Lips lyrics and printouts of the graphics. It wasn’t a script, it was a storyboard, I thought to myself "What the hell is this gonna be?" Curiosity led me to pursue it, I am always happy to jump at the chance to do a new show. And I love being back at La Jolla Playhouse, the feeling of being with family...
Tell me about your best stage moment.
It was the opening night of "Rocky Horror" on Broadway, my very first entrance as Frank N. Furter. I am being lowered in this giant birdcage, there is the thumping at the start of the song. Everyone in the audience knows Frank is coming-they are going crazy. I thought, "I’m in heaven, the little gay boy from Montana has arrived-in eightinch pumps!"
That is so awesome. I can only imagine. And what is next for you?
I don’t know, which is so often the case. My partner of 16 years is on tour with "Anything Goes"! They will be in L.A. over the holidays. He brought the car and our dog, so I think I am going to be a tour wife and hang out with him and play with the dog, see the sights. Let him earn the paycheck for a while-unless of course Broadway calls.
"Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" runs now through Sunday, December 16 at the La Jolla Playhouse. For tickets and more information call 858.550.1010, or go to lajollaplayhouse.org.