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Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, January 18, 2001

File photo
Heather Tom takes a break from soaps
to try the stage.

Soap star Heather
Tom drawn to stage

By Tim Ryan

Heather Tom, the television star, is having a rare day off and running late as a real person with too many errands and too little time.

The two-time Emmy Award winning actress is best known for her long-standing role as the tempestuous Victoria Newman on CBS's "The Young & The Restless" -- the No. 1 one daytime drama for 12 years -- but she also is an accomplished theater actor.

Tom co-stars in the comedy "Vanities" opening tomorrow at the Hawaii Theatre. The play is a bittersweet look at the growth of a friendship between three small-town women coming of age in the 1960s and '70s.

On stage

Bullet What: "Vanities"
Bullet Place: Hawaii Theatre
Bullet Dates: 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
Bullet Tickets: $25, $32.50, $37.50 and $45, with $5 discount for seniors, students and military
Bullet Call: 528-0506

"Errands, so many errands," Tom says in a telephone interview from Los Angeles a moment before the connection disconnects.

"Sorry about that," she chirps when she picks up the phone again. "I touched the wrong button I guess."

Tom's portrayal of Victoria on "The Young & The Restless," the wealthy, obsessive-compulsive woman who's been married three times, earned her two Emmys, one in 1993 at age 16, and the second in 1999. More Emmy nominations followed annually from 1994 to 1998, and again last year. She holds the record for being the most Emmy Award-nominated actress under age 30.

"It's amazing," said the 5-foot-7 actor. "Just to have a regular acting job for all these years is amazing but to get rewarded for it, wow."

In the national tour of the off-Broadway "Vanities," Tom plays Mary. Along with co-stars Stacy Keanan ("Step By Step" and "My Two Dads") and Emily Kay, she performs throughout the United States and Canada, whenever her shooting schedule allows.

"It's a great chance to do something different and meaningful, to expand yourself as an actor, to learn other techniques, to grow," she says.

Tom also has worked behind the curtain.

In 1996, she and "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman's" Chad Allen produced a revival of Neil Simon's "Biloxi Blues." She appeared in the play as Daisy, alternating the role with her sister Nicholle Tom ("The Nanny," "Beethoven," "Beethoven 2"). The first-time production was so well received that it won five Dramalogue Awards.

She also starred in "Out of Gas on Lovers Leap" and in 1998 performed as Laura in "The Glass Menagerie" with Barbara Babcock. The list goes on.

"I do tend to keep myself very busy, very active," Tom said.

That could be because she began acting in commercials at the age of 2 in Chicago. At 10, she moved with her family to Seattle. At 13, mom took Tom, sister Nicholle and brother David to Los Angeles to break into show biz. The three-week trial stay turned into a permanent move.

Heather and David last year became the first brother and sister simultaneously nominated for Emmys.

"I knew I wanted to be an actor at a young age," Tom said. "I took acting classes at the Young Actor's Space. I paid for each weekly session with the money I earned working at a cookie store.

"There's no feeling in the world like creating, then molding a character, standing in front of an audience and getting that instant response. It's euphoric."

So will she be pestered during her errands by fans?

"Never pestered, always a pleasure," she says. "They treat me like a next door neighbor because I'm with them every day. So often I'm greeted by my character's name, then they tell me to be careful of some other character on the show. People think they know me way too well."

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