What can you expect from a show called "Death Comedy Jam"? The star of the show, Maui broadcaster, actress and comedienne Kathy Collins, will tell you what it's not: "It's not a group therapy session," she says. "Not touchy-feely, 'come on, everyone, and let's all heal!' "
It's also not a "Tita" show, although Collins is well known for her pidgin-speaking, storytelling alter ego.
Instead, next week's performance at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's McCoy Studio Theater is a frank comedy show about a subject that people don't ordinarily like to talk about, let alone laugh about. Yet, "everybody deals with death at one time or another," Collins says.
In her new show, ‘Death Comedy Jam,’ the multitalented Kathy Collins tackles a serious subject … with lots of laughs.
Collins has had to deal with it on a very personal level with the death of her husband of many years, Barry Shannon, on April 7, 2007. In the year following his passing, she found herself re-evaluating her focus and the direction she wanted to take.
"I turned 50 after he died, and it was like, 'What am I going to do with my life now?'" she says. "Mana'o (Radio Station, 91.5 FM, that she co-founded with Shannon in 2002) - no question, gotta continue with that, but one of the things I wanted to do was focus more on my personal career. I wanted to continue performing, but not just as Tita. I got the idea to do a whole one-woman show on death, and it'll be funny I'm already in that space; why don't I do something creative with it?"
She tried out the idea at the Talk Story Festival in Honolulu last October, a venue where she had always previously performed as Tita. This time was different - she delivered a very personal monologue dealing with Shannon's death, and was amazed at the positive response she got.
"I had so many people come up to me afterward and thank me for talking so frankly about death in that kind of a format-not a grief workshop, but with humor."
Collins kept writing and refining the show, and decided to bring in four special guests: Willie K, Eric Gilliom, Dr. Nat and Steve Grimes - each of whom has played an important part in her healing process, she says. With their individual talents, plus a brief appearance by the one-and-only Tita, the "Death Comedy Jam" will be a variety show of humor, music, dance and storytelling.
There will also be some "adult" moments, with references to sex and widowhood, heaven and hell, and other death-related topics.
"I love to make people laugh," Collins says. "This one I hope will do more than that, although I wouldn't presume to try and counsel people."
What would Shannon think of it? "I think he'd be delighted!" Collins says.
The process of creating the show has been more challenging than painful, Collins says, and ultimately led to growth. Its completion will mark another milestone in the long road to recovery. "Maybe I'll finally be able to clean out Barry's studio," she says.
"Death Comedy Jam" is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 16. Tickets are $25. Applicable fees are added to tickets for all MACC shows, available at the MACC box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org.
Maui songstress Rose Roselinsky will perform in her fourth fundraiser for Maui OnStage at the Historic Iao Theater next weekend. "Simple Yet Elegant!?!!" is the title of her one-woman show, which she describes as "celebrating life through song, skits and shmoozing." The event will also feature special guests Debra Lynn and Jerry Eiting, Tom Althouse, Tristan Noel and Donna Rohrer, with Danny Brown on grand piano, and Peter Della Croce on percussion. There will be two shows: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 18. Tickets are $20 and $30; available by phone at 242-6969, at Gottling Ltd. at 34 N. Market St. in Wailuku, or at Old Lahaina Book Emporium at 834 Front St. For more information, visit www.mauionstage.com.
The ancient art of Chinese acrobatics comes alive again as the Shanghai Circus returns to Maui for three shows in the MACC's Castle Theater. Contortionists, jugglers, plate spinners, hoop divers, balancing acts and trapeze artists -ranging in age from 13 to 45 - will wow the audience in this popular annual event. The performances are on Monday, Jan. 19, at 4 and 7 p.m., and on Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10, $18 and $23.
Take a group of talented actors and put them on a bare stage with a great script and you've got B.E.T. (Bare Essential Theater), presented by Maui OnStage at the Historic Iao Theater. This month's live theater event takes place at 6:30 p.m. Monday with "The Elephant Man." Based on the life of John Merrick, a London resident during the late 1800s, the play by Bernard Pomerance tells a story of prejudice and perception. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Kristi Scott at 244-8680, ext. 23, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
New York City tap dance teacher, choreographer and performer Lynn Schwab will give three workshops at the MACC's Omori Studio B on Sunday, Jan. 18. Schwab currently teaches at Steps on Broadway, and tours in the U.S. with Tony Waag's Tap City. She has performed and taught across the globe and is a member of three professional tap companies: The Tap Collective, Barbara Duffy & Company, and Rumba Tap. The Beginning/Intermediate workshop is at 12:30 p.m., Intermediate at 1:45, and Intermediate/ Advanced at 3. Schwab will also offer private lessons and small group classes at Kula Underground Studio on Saturday, Jan. 17, and on Monday, Jan. 19. For more information, call 878-1482, or visit www.MauiTapExperience.org.