BWW Interviews: Tom Hewitt Takes On MEDEA
With comedies like Jeffrey and musicals like Rocky Horror Show and Jesus Christ Superstar under his belt, Tony-nominated Tom Hewitt may seem a little out-of-place onstage at The Duplex performing a decidedly dark and dramatic one-man adaptation of the Medea legend. But for the past several weeks, Aaron Mark's experimental play Another Medea has been running at the music venue, twisting a classic story into something new and disturbing, and Hewitt has been displaying a decidedly different set of skills.
Tom Hewitt in Another Medea" width="300" bheight="200" />The monologue takes the form of the confession of a man imprisoned for murder. (The title might offer a hint as to who he has killed.) Unlike other adaptations of ancient legends, this protagonist is fully aware of his story's connection to the myth and Euripides' play, as well as to other cases in recent memory. (Casey Anthony's name is dropped, among others.)
"It's a lighthearted romp!" Hewitt quips of the ultra-dark material before praising the play's writer and director Aaron Mark, who also directed Ben Rimalower's one-man play Patti Issues, which has been running at The Duplex for more than six months. "The Duplex is the last place in the world that you would expect to see Another Medea," Hewitt acknowledges, "but he has a relationship with the wonderful staff there. We wanted just to test it out, see if it would fly, get it on its feet. It's a very dark show, so I wanted to see if I could do it."
That darkness, he adds, made the play even more challenging than it otherwise would have been. "When I first read the piece, I thought it was too dark. I didn't want to burn that psychic candle." But Mark's script kept Hewitt intrigued, and when The Duplex became available, he decided to take a leap of faith with the young writer. "I've never done anything like this," he says, with no small amount of amusement. "My friends are shocked! It's been profoundly satisfying and rewarding to work on, and the response has been very positive. So we're gonna keep moving forward with it and ride the tide."
And, he adds, he is enjoying the challenge of a one-man play. "The biggest challenge is that there's nobody to blame but me!" he laughs. "I can't blame my costar if a scene goes wrong! The buck stops with me. This one is pretty easy," he adds. "It's just me at a table. The tech demands are small, so it's a good first step." And challenges can be a good thing for an actor, especially when working with a nascent piece: "I think part of The Duplex run is to see if [the play] has commercial viability," he says. "We don't have all the answers yet, so we have a few more performances, and more people will come."
And while the legend of Medea may seem ubiquitous, Hewitt was surprised to find audiences who had never heard of it before. In a way, he says, there is a "surprising exhilaration" in telling the story to someone who's never heard it before. "It's exciting to think that I'm taking people for a ride! They don't know what's going on here!" he laughs. The average visitor to The Duplex on any given evening would probably not expect to see a one-man Medea in the Cabaret room, he acknowledges. "But it could be an interesting juxtaposition!"