'A Japanese woman we'd met in Paris came to the apartment yesterday and spent several hours explaining our appliances. The microwave, the water kettle, the electric bathtub: everything blinks and bleeps and calls out in the middle of the night. I'd wondered what the rice maker was carrying on about, and Reiko told us that it was on a timer and simply wanted us to know that it was present and ready for duty. That was the kettle's story as well, while the tub was just being an a------ and waking us up for no reason."
- from "The Smoking Section" in "When You Are Engulfed in Flames" by David Sedaris
It cost humorist David Sedaris $23,000 to quit smoking. That was the bill for a three-month stay in Japan, which is where he moved for a change of scenery in which to kick the habit once and for all.
ROBERT BANKS photo
"I was being put in crummy (hotels) because all the nice places went nonsmoking," he explained to David Letterman on "The Late Show" in 2008. "I started being put in the place on the highway between the muffler shop and the waffle restaurant."
Sedaris describes his misadventures in his latest best-selling book, "When You Are Engulfed in Flames," a collection of essays about topics ranging from the crude (lancing a boil on his behind) to the mundane (running out of water to make coffee) - all in typically dry Sedaris style.
His simple yet telling observations are at their best when brought to life by his famously elfish voice (and he really did work as a Macy's elf - an experience detailed in "The SantaLand Diaries").
David Sedaris will appear at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5 in the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater.
Tickets are $32, $39.50, $47 and $62. 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.
His delivery has made him an established favorite, not only on the talk show circuit, but for years on National Public Radio. The nationally distributed show "This American Life" features Sedaris' original commentaries on life in New York City and in France (where he has a house in Normandy with his perfectionist boyfriend, Hugh Hamrick).
And if his radio pieces are amusing, imagine listening to him in person. Maui audiences will have that opportunity next week when he appears at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater for an evening of readings and recollections. The show will be followed by a question-and-answer session, and book sales and signing.
Sedaris has won multiple awards for his work, including the Thurber Prize for American Humor, and was named "Humorist of the Year" by Time Magazine in 2001. He received two Grammy Award nominations for Best Spoken Word Album ("Dress Your Family in Corduroy & Denim") and Best Comedy Album ("David Sedaris: Live at Carnegie Hall"), and his essays are published frequently in Esquire and The New Yorker.Together with his sister Amy, Sedaris has written several plays including "One Woman Shoe," which won an Obie Award, and "The Book of Liz," which was printed in book form by Dramatist's Play Service.
Sedaris' humor is often directed at his own experiences: his upbringing in suburbia, various jobs and educational forays, commentaries on homosexuality and cultural differences, and descriptions of awkward social situations. Brimming with sardonic observations that are both hilarious and unsettling, Sedaris promises to be a most entertaining guest on the Maui stage.
Join the ghostly gang at the Historic Iao "Haunted Theater" in Wailuku as the doors creak open to reveal all manner of spooky surprises. The crew at Maui OnStage has been preparing for weeks to alarm and entertain visitors with originally choreographed numbers like "I Put a Spell on You" and a live zombie production of "Thriller." Due to strobe lights and fog machines, the event may be unsuitable for young children and people with certain health conditions. The Haunted Theater is open from 6 to 9 tonight and Friday, and from 6 to 10 p.m. on Halloween.
* Tickets are $2. Costumes are encouraged, and tricks and treats will be on sale in the concession area. For more information, visit www.mauionstage.com.
For a different kind of Halloween event, Kamehameha Schools Maui Drama Club presents a candy-covered fantasy: Roald Dahl's musical "Willy Wonka." Camille Romero (also known as "Olive") directs this family-friendly show, based on Dahl's book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." The young actors include Ekolu Kim as Willy Wonka, owner of the chocolate factory; and Wesley Kiaha as Charlie Bucket, the boy who wins a factory tour with his Grandpa Joe, played by Ekela Hill.
* Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Fridays, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, through Nov. 7 in the Keopuolani Hale on the KSM campus in Kula. Admission is free. For information or reservations, call 573-7285.
"Birth" returns to the Historic Iao Theater at 3 p.m. Sunday, featuring a strong local cast sharing the diverse childbirth stories of six women. The play by journalist and childbirth advocate Karen Brody is part of a nationwide movement called BOLD, which calls attention to the need for a more compassionate, mother-centered birthing environment. Directed by Robin Garrison, "Birth" stars Kathy Collins, Venus Rosete-Hill, Jeana Naluai, Chasity Nohealani Cadaoas, Ki'inaniokalani Kaho'ohanohano and Jennifer Noelani Ahia. Following the play, there will be a "Talkback" discussion with nurses, doctors, midwives and doulas. Proceeds will benefit the nonprofit organization Women Who Care.
"Cabaret" continues its run through Nov. 15 at Steppingstone Playhouse. Produced by ProArts, the show features decadent (and skimpy) costumes by Kathleen Schulz, original choreography by Kalani Whitford, and a live orchestra directed by Marti Kluth playing familiar numbers like "Mein Herr," "Money" and "Maybe This Time." The musical made its debut on Broadway in 1966 and later became a popular film starring Liza Minnelli as Kit Kat Klub performer Sally Bowles (played on Maui by the talented Lynnea Barry). Set in Berlin in 1931 at the Nazis' rise to power, the play hums with undercurrents of unrest and seethes with sexuality. Not appropriate for children. (See the review on the next page.)
* Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, with one 2 p.m. Saturday matinee on Nov. 14. Tickets are $28 for reserved table seating (available only by phone), $25 for center section, and $22 for side section; available at the mall's Customer Service Desk or by calling 875-4367. For more information, visit www.proartspacific.com.
"Once upon a time" a group of creative high school students wove together a classic fairy tale musical Baldwin High School Performing Arts Learning Center and Baldwin Theatre Guild present Disney's "Sleeping Beauty," directed by Linda Carnevale with musical direction by Kirsten Otterson. Based on the animated film, the play features a cast of 40 students as princes, princesses, good fairies, evil sorcerers and all manner of colorful characters. The show opens Friday, Nov. 6, and runs two weekends in the Baldwin High School Loudon Mini-Theatre in back of campus. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 5 p.m. Sundays, with one 2 p.m. Saturday matinee on Nov. 14.
* Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for age 17 and younger; available at the door. There will be a "Gala Night Dessert Affair" fundraiser at 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7 (including pre-show entertainment, silent auction, dessert and beverage); tickets are $17 for adults; $15 for seniors, $13 for students.