Maui Celebrity Series brings back funny man

Tom Arnold

Tom Arnold (left) and Brian Evans return with the Maui Celebrity Series at 8 p.m. Friday at The Dirty Monkey, 844 Front St. in Lahaina. Tickets are $45 to $75 presale, with a limited number of add-on VIP meet-and-greet tickets available online through www.eventbrite.com. Remaining tickets on the night of this event will be $70 at the door. For more information, call 419-6268 or visit www.thedirtymonkey.com. Photo courtesy Maui Celebrity Series

Impresario, singer, actor, author and United States congressional candidate for Hawaii, Brian Evans started the Maui Celebrity Series nearly a decade ago in Lahaina. Over the years, Evans has presented such stars as Academy Award-winner Jeff Bridges; Emmy Award-winners Roseanne, William Shatner and Louie Anderson; and Grammy Award-winners Cheech and Chong, Bob Saget, Rob Schneider and David Spade.

The night before New Year’s Eve 2016, Evans decided to conclude the series with a performance by Shatner at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku, but after a chance meeting with Tom Arnold at Shep Gordon’s Wailea New Year’s Eve gala this year, Evans tossed around the idea of bringing the series back. This Saturday night it returns with Golden Globe Award-winning actor and comedian Tom Arnold (“True Lies”) and classic crooner Evans.

“It was Shep Gordon who first introduced me to Tom Arnold, and that show sold out back when the series began,” shared Evans. “I keep telling myself, ‘This is the last show,’ but then I get the itch again. Tom and I are working on a TV series I’ve created called ‘Creature,’ so we figured it would be fun to do a show while he’s here.”

I asked Evans if this was the “last show” or if he had more in the works.

“I have been working on one particular show that I will bring, and won’t rest until I do, but I have new priorities in my life. I’m going to focus on my books, my next CD and after 2018 my life will be taking a different direction,” he shared.

Dancer Sergio Arranz impresses with his ballet technique in Complexions Contemporary Ballet troupe at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center tonight. Ani Collier photo

That new direction is running for Congress. I asked why he is pursuing the office.

“I am running for Congress because we need to be a state that is recognized as one on a global scale — we’re not. We’re ‘that tourist destination,’ and there are people here who have a voice that is not a part of the national conversation,” he explained.

A longtime advocate and fundraiser for healthcare issues, Evans shared his cause.

“I intend to focus on the fact that hospital medical errors and malpractice are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue — it’s a human being issue. Win or lose, I’m going to make sure that the people of Hawaii are fed more than one liners that get candidates elected who then do nothing,” he concluded.

I asked Arnold to comment on Evans’ run for office.

“That’s the show! I’m not even kidding on this one — that should be amazing. He’s got his work cut out for him, but that’s good TV and a show we should be working on together,” he joked.

Arnold stated that he’s not a political comedian, but shared that he has been friends with President Donald Trump for 30 years.

“I’ll talk about him because I know him. We went to the Playboy Mansion together many times, and I wasn’t the creepy dude.”

Arnold calls Maui his “favorite place on the planet,” and shared that he and his wife were married at Gordon’s house.

“I’ve met more Hollywood people at Shep’s house on Maui than in Hollywood.”

He performed with Evans at Lahaina’s Maui Theatre eight years ago and is looking forward to teaming up again. I asked his reaction to “Tom Arnold at The Dirty Monkey.”

“Right? That says it all, and it tells you how bad I want to come back to Maui. Maui is a different animal — The Dirty Monkey could be the best club in the world for all I know. I got a phone call at 3 a.m. from Brian and he says, ‘Not to worry, but we’re moving to The Dirty Monkey,’ “ said Arnold while laughing. “It’s going to be perfect though, they’ve got a real stage. I need a mic and a light. It’s going to be a fun night, and it will be just like a comedy club.”

Arnold returned to his stand-up roots several years ago and has a new comedy special debuting on Hulu next month.

“I’ve always done stand-up since I was a student at the University of Iowa in 1982 performing at the student union. About eight years ago, I decided to do more. Now I’m 59 with two young kids, so I guess I’ll be doing standup forever so I can put them through college,” he said. “The only thing that ever made my dad laugh was watching the Bob Hope specials, so as a kid I said ‘I want to do that.’ Then my first big gig was appearing on a Bob Hope special — he even called my dad. I also did USO tours with him. So every dream I’ve ever had has been achieved. It’s all downhill from here.”

*****

Founded in 1994 by former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancers Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, Complexions Contemporary Ballet has impressed audiences around the world with the singular approach of reinventing dance through a mix of methods, styles and cultures.

Now having presented that vision in over 20 countries, on five continents and to more than 20 million television viewers on “So You Think You Can Dance,” Complexions has become one of the most recognized and respected dance companies in the world, poised to continue its mission of bringing unity to the world one dance at a time. Tonight’s 7:30 performance brings Complexions’ modern brand of athletic dance to the Castle Theater at Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului where it will perform a two-part program — one set to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and the second, “Star Dust,” a ballet tribute to the artistry of David Bowie, features nine of his most popular songs.

“Star Dust” premiered in Detroit in 2016, just six months after Bowie’s death, and dance critics have been lavishing praise upon the piece ever since.

The Washington Post called it “One of the most exciting performances I’ve seen . . . less a rock ballet than a rock concert.”

Billboard Magazine said “I’ve never seen more people smiling, or fighting the urge to break into dance, at a ballet.”

Rhoden previously choreographed “Rise” to the music of U2; “Innervisions,” as a tribute to Stevie Wonder; and “Strum,” a ballet set to the songs of Metallica.

In a 2017 Newsweek feature just prior to “Star Dust’s” New York debut, Rhoden called Bowie’s music, “The sound of the time that I grew up in,” and said he has been inspired by Bowie’s multiplicities since adolescence.

In this highly athletic piece, the 16-member ensemble will combine Ziggy Stardust-like face and body paint and glam-rock costumes by costumier Christine Darch with daredevil dancing.

* Complexions Contemporary Ballet featuring “Star Dust: A Ballet Tribute to David Bowie.” Performance is at 7:30 tonight in the Castle Theater at the MACC. General admission tickets range from $12 to $65 with half price for kids under 12 (plus applicable fees). For more information or to purchase tickets, go to the box office, call 242-7469, or visit www.maui arts.org.

Also this week

Oh Boy Productions in collaboration with Seabury Hall Academy presents Moliere’s “Tartuffe,” co-directed by Vinnie Linares and Jennifer Rose. Due to a medical emergency, last weekend’s performances of “Tartuffe” were cancelled. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the ‘A’ali’ikuhonua Creative Arts Center on the Seabury Hall campus in Makawao. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students, payable by cash or check only and are available at the box office prior to show time.

*****

Although initially intended to be held over for this weekend, the ProArts Playhouse production of “The 39 Steps” has closed. There are no additional performances.

Opportunities

MAPA Live will be holding auditions for “Into the Woods,” music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, directed by David C. Johnston, choreography by Andre Morissette and under the musical direction of Gary Leavitt.

All roles are available and auditions are open to performers ages 16 and older. Actors must schedule an audition appointment and prepare 32 bars of two musical theater songs (one selection must be from a Stephen Sondheim musical).

Actors must also bring sheet music in their key (or a recorded track), plus a current headshot and resume. An accompanist will be provided. Appointments are available between 6:30 and 9 p.m. April 11 and April 13, and from 1 to 4 p.m. April 15 at the MAPA Main Studios, 2027 Main St. in Wailuku. Audition callbacks will take place on April 22, and rehearsals will begin the last week of May.

Performances of “Into the Woods” will be weekends from Aug. 24 to Sept. 2 in Castle Theater at the MACC. For character descriptions and more information, visit www.mauiacademy.org.

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