Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, With Tom Hewitt, Paul Nolan, Kimiko Glenn, Begins Nov. 6 in CA

By Kenneth Jones
November 6, 2012

Veterans of director Des McAnuff's Canadian and Broadway revival of Jesus Christ Superstar punctuate the rockin', other-worldly production of his new musical Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, lit ablaze with the music of The Flaming Lips. The world-premiere staging begins previews Nov. 6 at La Jolla Playhouse.



Kimiko Glenn (LJP's The Nightingale) plays Yoshimi in the rock musical that has a story by The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne and former Playhouse director McAnuff (Jersey Boys, Jesus Christ Superstar). Music and lyrics are by The Flaming Lips. McAnuff directs.

Opening night is Nov. 17. The LJP run continues to Dec. 16 in the Mandell Weiss Theatre in La Jolla, CA.

The cast features Tony Award nominee Tom Hewitt (Zhivago, The Rocky Horror Show, Dracula, The Musical and Pilate in JCS) as Dr. Peterson, Paul Nolan (Jesus in JCS) as Ben and JCS ensemble members Mary Antonini, Laurin Padolina, Jaz Sealey, Jason Sermonia and Julius Sermonia. Returning to the Playhouse are Pearl Sun (The Seven) as Mrs. Yasukawa and Albert Guerzon (The Wiz).

Seven resident actors performing include ensemble members Richard Bulda, LaMae Caparas and Jonny Wexler; swings Chelsea Diggs-Smith (The Nightingale) and Christopher Cortex; and two UC San Diego M.F.A. students: Katie McGehee and Jack Mikesell.

Additional cast members are Nik Walker as Booker, John Haggerty as Mr. Yasukawa, and ensemble members Michael Balderrama, Emmanuel Brown, Ian Paget, Vasthy Mompoint, Catherine Ricafort, Vanden Thurgood and Jesse Wildman.

Nik Walker in rehearsal
photo by Sandy Huffaker

Here's how LJP bills Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots: "Yoshimi is a young artist facing the battle of her life: the battle for her life. Adrift from her family and lover, Yoshimi journeys alone into a fantastical robot-world where she wages a war with fate. Her will to survive must be powerful enough to master the evil forces that threaten to destroy her. Inspired by the psychedelic music of Wayne Coyne and The Flaming Lips, this world premiere musical integrates music from several albums — 'Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,' 'The Soft Bulletin,' 'At War with the Mystics' — with Coyne and multiple Tony Award-winning director Des McAnuff's poignant, humanistic story about the triumph of love and optimism over the mystery of our own mortality."

The creative team includes Ron Melrose (musical supervisor); Bradley Rapier (choreographer); Robert Brill (scenic designer); Paul Tazewell (costume designer); Michael Walton (lighting designer); Steve Canyon Kennedy (sound designer); Sean Nieuwenhuis (projection designer); Basil Twist (puppet designer); Steve Rankin (fight director); and Gabriel Greene (dramaturg).

Tickets to Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots are available online at LaJollaPlayhouse.org or by calling the Playhouse Box Office at (858) 550-1010.

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The Tony Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse was founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer. The followingPlayhouse productions have moved to Broadway: Memphis, Jersey Boys, Big River, The Who's Tommy, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, A Walk in the Woods, Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays, the Pulitzer Prize-winning I Am My Own Wife, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Farnsworth Invention, 33 Variations and Bonnie & Clyde.