March 15, 2012
By Kenneth Jones
Courtesy of PlayBill.com
Des McAnuff, the Tony Award-winning director whose embrace of rock musicals has been passionate over the years, is writing and directing a new musical calledYoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, which will use the music and lyrics of the alternative rock band The Flaming Lips.
La Jolla Playhouse, where McAnuff served as artistic director for 18 years, will present the world premiere starting in November in the Mandell Weiss Theatre in La Jolla, CA. McAnuff directed Broadway's Jersey Boys and the new revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. He won Tonys for directing The Who's Tommy and Big River.
According to LJP notes, "Yoshimi is a young Japanese 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. Will her will to survive be powerful enough to master the evil forces that threaten to destroy her?"
It's "inspired by the whimsical and psychedelic music" of Wayne Coyne and The Flaming Lips, integrating music from several albums, including "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots," "The Soft Bulletin" and "At War with the Mystics."
It's billed as McAnuff's "poignant, humanistic story about the triumph of love and optimism over the mystery of our own mortality." Expect a "dazzling, multi-media experience that offers an allegory of our modern battle for progressive thought and individuality in the face of blind acceptance and conformity."
The Flaming Lips is an American rock band that formed in Norman, OK, in 1983. According to LJP notes, "Their sound contains lush, multi-layered, psychedelic rock arrangements, but lyrically their compositions show elements of space rock, including unusual song and album titles" — such as "Psychiatric Explorations of the Fetus with Needles," "Free Radicals (A Hallucination of the Christmas Skeleton Pleading with a Suicide Bomber)" and "Yeah, I Know It's a Drag... But Wastin' Pigs Is Still Radical." They are also acclaimed for their elaborate live shows, which feature costumes, balloons, puppets, video projections, complex stage light configurations, giant hands, large amounts of confetti and frontman Wayne Coyne's signature man-sized plastic bubble, in which he traverses the audience.
The Playhouse’s complete 2012-13 season includes the world-premiere, commissioned musical Hands on a Hardbody (April 27-June 17, Mandell Weiss Theatre); Blood and Gifts (June 12-July 8, Mandell Weiss Forum); The Nightingale (July 10-Aug. 5, Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre); An Iliad(Aug. 11-Sept. 9, Mandell Weiss Forum); Glengarry Glen Ross (Sept. 18-Oct. 14, Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre) and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots(November/December, Mandell Weiss Theatre).
Christopher Ashley is artistic director of La Jolla Playhouse.
Visit LaJollaPlayhouse.org or call the Playhouse Box Office at (858) 550-1010 for more information on tickets and subscription purchases.