Friday, June 01, 2007

Tom DeWester

I once wrote in this blog about how intimidated I was by the slick and professional show at our competitor theater, the Pink Garter, back in 1976. I just didn’t see how our raucous and bawdy production of Paint Your Wagon could compare with their impressive and colorful Molly Brown.

What I was really talking about – what I was really intimidated by – was Tom DeWester.

Tom was the best actor I had ever seen, by several orders of magnitude. He was absolutely magnetic on the stage, with great looks, deft timing, a commanding voice, and a master craftsman’s instincts. He was absolutely sensational, and the show was so perfect and impressive I wondered if anyone would come see us a few blocks away.

Tom has stayed busy on the stage, and I am not the only person he has wowed with his talent. I took a few minutes to Google Tom and found nothing but raves: (In no particular order)

Tom DeWester is Count Dracula and he out Bela Lugosies Bela Lugosi, except nobody trembles in fear when DeWester's Count is on stage. DeWester milks (bloods, perhaps) the role for all it's worth, and it's worth lots and lots of laughs. He has a fine accent, a splendid singing voice, marvelous timing (as does the entire cast) and goes for the jugular with flair - especially when the jugular belongs to a buxom blond. As the old saying goes, the way to the jugular is through... well - you get the picture. DeWester's Count is a lecherously superb comedic turn.

Tom DeWester is outstanding as the underwear tycoon. He is a voracious reader who constantly backs up his statements by saying "read" so-and-so, referring to whatever writer fits the bill. He is so funny at this I couldn't wait for him to do it again. He not only looks the part, he clearly depicts a lower class man who made good by working hard, as opposed to the aristocratic colonial administrator played by John Musgrave.

Tom DeWester is his usual wonderful self as Iago, the villainous worm who turns Othello's heart away from the ones he most loves.

Other standout performances include Rachael Lewis as Jenny, a whore and former lover of Mack, and Tom DeWester as J.J. Peachum... DeWester's voice is technically commanding...

TABARD THEATRE Company's current production of Smoke on the Mountain, the hottest regional musical in Middle America, falls somewhere between A Prairie Home Companion and A Modest Proposal in song. Tabard brings a well-suited cast to the characters of the traveling gospel-singing Sanders Family—daddy Burl (Tom DeWester)…

I am certain this list is very incomplete, but it gives you a sense of Tom DeWester’s nimble genius. He went from Dracula to an underwear tycoon to Iago to pappy Burl the Gospel singer, fer cryin’ out loud.

Tom’s gig now is teaching
second grade at a charter school. Those are some lucky kids.

I never shared a stage with Tom. He began a long and successful run at Dirty Jack’s Theater after my last season in 1979, and I think he stayed until the theater closed in the 90s. The guy is still a legend around Jackson Hole.

[Tom, I hope you don’t mind this little tribute. You are one of the most memorable people from my time in Jackson Hole, and I know you contributed a ton to the magic of Dirty Jack’s Theater.]