Actor Rob Lowe will conduct an “experiment,” as he likes to say. On Friday, May 12, the Parks and Recreation veteran will debut his one-man show, Rob Lowe: Stories I Only Tell My Friends, at the Mesa Arts Center. It could become an ongoing project.
“I think if I enjoy it as much as I think I’m going to, it will probably be a tour,” says Lowe, calling from Los Angeles. “Right now, it’s one night only; the true definition of one night only.”
The actor, whose latest movie How to Be a Latin Lover opened on April 28, has never done anything like this.
“I’ve done a bunch of speaking engagements across the country, which put me in the mindset to do it,” Lowe says. “The two books that I wrote continue to have such an impact that it gave me the idea for this evening. I’m very excited about it and I’m working very, very hard on it.”
The Mesa Arts Center was a logical choice for the polished actor who has made a slew of announcements recently. He’s the new Kentucky Fried Chicken colonel, and he’ll debut A&E’s The Lowe Files this summer.
“I had heard that the Mesa Arts Center was unbelievably beautiful. It has great acoustics and a great place to perform. The other was I wanted to go to a place where I hadn’t spent a lot of time; someplace where (fans) weren’t used to seeing me. I wanted to go somewhere fun, where I could spend a weekend. And somewhere that wasn’t too far from Los Angeles. All of those things brought me to Mesa.”
Lowe is intrigued by the vulnerability that comes with standing on the stage alone, in the dark, in front of thousands of fans. The last time he was on stage was six years ago in London’s West End when he did A Few Good Men with Aaron Sorkin.
“I like to think of it as creating a time machine where time stands still for that 90 minutes and you have a communal moment that’s believably intimate together. Everything else in your life fades away in that moment. I love being able to conjure that.”
Lowe is a self-described “political junkie” and he’s been particularly interested in the events of the last year.
“It’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” he says. “It makes The West Wing, House of Cards or Scandal look uninspiring. I find it honestly to be a microcosm of everything in our world.
“Winning an Oscar used to mean one thing. Now it means something different. I watched the show Feud about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The majesty and scope and seriousness with which the Oscars was beheld, there’s no resemblance. The same is true with our elective process. Everything is debased and crazy.”
Lowe’s acting career is No. 1. When he’s approached by fans, he never knows what resonates with them. That is exciting to Lowe, who made his mark early in his career as Sodapop Curtis in the film The Outsiders.
“As my Parks and Recreation character, Chris Traeger, would say, I see fans ‘literally’ of any age,” he says with a laugh. “She could be an 8-year-old who saw Monster Trucks in the theater, or an 80-year-old who loves The West Wing. I never know what project anyone is going to want to talk about. I really am proud of that. There are plenty of (entertainers) who have one or two big ones. I have such a diverse body of work. That’s the fun of the evening, too. When I open it up to questions, it’s always an adventure.”
That sounds nerve-wracking, but he says that’s the “fun of it.”
“What keeps anybody relevant and sharp is continuing to put yourself in situations out of your comfort zone,” he says. “The adrenaline is pumping. Anything that’s done over and over can be routine. This is one of the areas that I have not had any experience in. I have tons of experience on the stage, but this one-man show genre is really new to me. It’s a fun challenge that I always wanted.”
Rob Lowe: Stories I Only Tell My Friends, Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main Street, Mesa, 480.644.6500, mesaartscenter.com, 8 p.m. Friday, May 12, $30-$165.