Sodapop, Sam Seaborn and Standing Ovations!
I first met Rob Lowe in 2005, when he came over to act in Aaron Sorkin’s “A Few Good Men” on the West End stage. He showed how generous he is with fans taking it all in his stride as they packed the stage door, asking questions, taking photos and getting memorabilia signed.
Rob then came over in 2011 to publicise his book, Stories I Tell My Friends. He captivated the Hay Festival alongside Mariella Frostrup and followed this with a Royal Geographic Society talk with Kate Muir, where he commented on the future event topics which were advertised before his onstage talk: “Western parents don’t know how to bring up their children” and “If you want fidelity, get a dog” – “Wow,” he exclaimed, “I’m going to those, for sure!” He delighted in calling out the few men in attendance, “you can be in my handsome men’s club!”
Although we have had these fantastic opportunities to see him speak and have our books signed in person, fans have not had the chance to see Rob Lowe talk alone on stage, until now.
Last December, Rob took the Southbank Centre by storm, selling out seats and earning a standing ovation. I was excited to see him do his talk onstage, knowing what a raconteur he is and the fun anecdotes he shares of a long career, with varied ups and downs. Showcasing his adept comic side, he enjoys poking fun at himself and his pretty boy image, knowing the effect he has on the (mostly) female audience, “are you on a date tonight? When you go home tonight….you’re welcome!”
We settled in our seats with glasses of wine balanced precariously as we enjoyed the slideshow of photos showing Rob through the years. Photoshoots, magazine covers (ahh Interview, how we miss you!) and candid snaps throughout the years going back and forth, created conversations within the rows as various decades of Rob Lowe went past and people pointed out films they loved, magazine covers they had and roles they enjoyed.
Afterwards we were treated to an extensive clip reel (Demi Moore, you are gorgeous) highlighting many roles of his career, even showing his infamous tv ads which didn’t air here, although we did get his Skechers and California Tourism advert! Then Rob Lowe himself stepped out as the audience cheered.
Distressed grey shirt stretched across his chest under a leather jacket, Rob exuded pure Americana (his shirt actually had the US flag on in a subtle grey print) and charm as he smiled at the audience then launched into a fantastic evening, recounting how he started acting as a pretty boy, with lessons he learnt from his peers’ fathers – whether it was being chased down a driveway by Cary Grant, or sharing ice cream with Martin Sheen as Martin dispenses advice.
As a London exclusive, Rob had dished that he was able to dig up one of the infamous back yard movies with Chad and Charlie Sheen investigating around the rocky lagoon pool the Sheens had. I was slightly disappointed it wasn’t one of Chris Penn’s fabled Vietnam movies that he made with Sean, and Emilio Estevez but this one had me rolling in my seat with laughter as you could see how much fun the boys had in front of and behind the camera as they made the most of their location.
Rob smoothly moved throughout his career, noting several highlights, lowlights and hearing the audience groan at juicy roles he turned down, McDreamy anyone?!
He shared lessons he’d learned from his family, bringing up two beloved sons, the success of his marriage to his wife, Sheryl, who was also in attendance with his son, and the journey he took to staying sober for 20 years.
As much as he is an amazing storyteller onstage, he really seemed to come alive with the audience Q&A segment as he told stories of working with the casts of the West Wing and Parks and Rec, as well as our personal favourite, The Outsiders! He really engages with people and volleys back and forth resulting in lots of laughter. The audience showed their appreciation by giving him a standing ovation, which he was really touched by.
As a renowned people pleaser, it was fun to watch the VIP line queue up and to be acknowledged by Rob as he took the time to speak to them, shake their hand or give them a hug as women skipped, floated and one lady even danced her way to a VIP goody bag waiting for her.
Everyone was smiling as he noticed them, I know I definitely entered a Rob Lowe vortex where I have no memory of actually having our photo taken! I was lucky enough to pass on a rare set photograph from The Outsiders, showing Rob in the makeup trailer. He was also surprised to see my original Outsiders script, in its red bound cover as he exclaimed that he hadn’t seen one since they’d finished filming! He took the time to have a flick through it and ask a few questions, as well as showing some members of his team.
The South Bank staff did a fantastic job at corralling all the VIP attendees to get the best out of their experience.
As his next show is after Valentine’s Day in Brighton which has sold out, I hope he adds a few romantic or love themed anecdotes from his Love Life book. Look out for Rob starring in Wild Bill on ITV later this year, he seems to have had a lot of fun filming in England, with plenty of car karaoke!
Rob will also be taking his show on tour across the US this spring and summer, so look for dates in your city!