I never imagined I would be bidding "Backstage" adieu after only nine short months. I have had the time of my life getting to know our amazing performing arts community better and attending so many first-rate performances. Every show I've had the honor of watching and reviewing has been entertaining, thought-provoking, laugh-inducing or heart-warming (and infinite combinations of all four!) Rick Chatenever has to be the kindest, wry-est editor on the face of the earth - always offering pithy advice and a thoughtful perspective. I will miss his mentorship very, very much. A couple of exciting opportunities have arisen in the last few months that I've decided to pursue - which will not afford me the luxury of maintaining "Backstage."
I am very excited to pass the column to the Divine Ms. M - Mirabel Bradley. Mirabel is a Seabury Hall graduate and a former recipient of the school's prestigious English Award for excellence in writing. She is an actress, a stage manager, a theater aficionado and one of the wisest young people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. It's wonderful to introduce a wordsmith of Mirabel's caliber to The Maui News readership and I look forward to keeping up with the column as Mirabel adds her own "magic" to the mix each week. Break a leg, Mirabel!
Cable TV star Hal Sparks highlights Maui Celebrity Series Saturday
Sparks fly at this month's Celebrity Series show
Hal Sparks breathes new life into the hackneyed term "Renaissance Man." The comedian, actor, rock star, veejay, activist, radio personality, brain surgeon, horse whisperer, glass blower (OK, I added the last three, but you get the picture) is the latest star to grace the Lahaina Theatre marquee - adding his name to the illustrious, ever-expanding "Maui Celebrity Series" roster, along with luminaries like Paul Rodriguez, David Spade, Mos Def, Tom Green, Roseanne Barr and the list goes on.
Sparks began his stand-up career in high school, and was named "Funniest Teenager in Chicago" by the Chicago Sun Times when he was only 17. He really burst onto the scene in 2000, when, after hosting E! Entertainment Television's "Talk Soup" for a year or so, he was cast as handsome, naive, all-American Michael Novotny in the provocative Showtime series "Queer as Folk." The series ran for five years, and left an indelible mark on television and popular culture.
* The Maui Celebrity Series presents Hal Sparks Live at the Maui Theatre at 9 p.m. Saturday with special guests Chino LaForge and DJ Aggressive Cane Spider. The show is hosted by Jenelle LeBlanc with a special appearance by Brian Evans. Purchase tickets at the Maui Theatre box office at 878 Front St. in Lahaina, by phone at 856-7973 or online at www.mauicelebrity series.com.
Sparks hosted VH1's "I Love" retrospectives and tributes on VH1 for years, and his metal band "Zero 1" has a new record, "The Sacred Nothing" dropping in February.
But, for now, it's all about the comedy.
Sparks' latest Showtime comedy special, "Charmageddon," re-ignited his stand-up career. He shares his hilarious, controversial, outspoken takes on current events on his weekly radio show, "Hump Days with Hal," every Wednesday on the syndicated Stephanie Miller show.
Sparks attributes his comic sensibility to his lower-middle-class Kentucky upbringing.
"Let's never underestimate the power of poverty and lack of education for creating a sense of humor," Sparks has said.
Sparks' family didn't have a television, so he turned to Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Steve Martin, Godfrey Cambridge, Shelly Berman, Woody Allen and Red Foxx records for entertainment. What he got was straight-up inspiration.
ProArts has unveiled its latest original, fractured adaptation, "The Emperor's New Clothes." Doug Kendrick directs the story of the vain Emperor of Boondoggle who squanders his peoples' money for some swanky duds. Two sly swindlers and one brave imperial employee cook up a plan to teach the selfish ruler a lesson he (and we) will never forget. The show runs weekends through Oct. 31, 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with matinees at 4 p.m. Saturdays and 1 and 4 p.m. Sundays at the ProArts Playhouse in Azeka Shopping Center in Kihei. Tickets are $15 for reserved seats, and $10 for floor seating, available before each performance, or by calling 463-6520. (See the review next article.)
Maui OnStage presents creepy classic "Arsenic and Old Lace" at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets, $40 preferred seating, $18 general, $15 bargain matinees, are available at the box office before the show, online at www.mauionstage.com or by phone: 242-6969. Ask about "dinner and a show" packages with Cafe O' Lei by calling 244-8680.
Enjoy four days of tap in paradise when The Hawaiian Islands Tap Festival shuffles into the Maui Arts & Cultural Center from Nov. 11 to 14. The festival showcases traditional and contemporary tap-highlighted in the show-stopping Rhythmic Revolution in the Castle Theater on Saturday, Nov. 13. Rhythmic Revolution brings some of the world's greatest tap stars to the stage in a refreshing fusion of tap, flamenco, Afro-Cuban and Indian Odissi dance, accompanied by live music. For more information on the festival, log on to www.mauitapexperience.org. For tickets and more information about Rhythmic Revolution, log on to www.mauiarts.org or call 242-7469.