Going back to the English Music Hall and Vaudeville circuit days, Christmas has always been a slowdown time in show biz. All of Hollywood is on vacation and Maui's stages will be relatively dark over the coming weeks. So, because nothing is running this week, I'm going to borrow an idea from former Backstage columnist Sky Barnhart: my 10 favorite Maui stage moments of 2011.
10. Two words, "Sexy Back." The image of Vinnie Linares and Lauren Burgess chasing each other around the stage to Justin Timberlake's "Sexy Back," culminating with the two devouring a sausage, was highly disturbing, but perhaps the funniest stage moment of the year. The scene was the creation of director Cassandra Wormser in Maui OnStage's "The Taming of the Shrew."
9. The wonderful Wanda Sykes and her bikini wax story. Sykes' performance was one of the best the MACC had to offer in 2011. The sold-out house howled with laughs all night long, but never more so than her now famous bit. My favorite moment in the moment was when Wanda "saw the white light" and instinctively punched her waxer in the face.
ProArts’ “Sylvia” featured Marilyn Hirashima (from left), Kalani Whitfield (top), Jackie Shea and Scott Newman.
JACK GRACE photo
8. Jackie Shea's trusting leap onto Kalani Whitford's hip every night in ProArt's "Sylvia." Maybe it was just a little thing, but two actors need to become one to pull this off night after night. Shea as a canine was never more believable then when she flew through the air to lick and adore Whitford; double kudos to Whitford for catching her with one arm every night.
7. Eric Peterson's touching and profoundly moving closing monologue in MAPA's "Theophilus North." I suppose I never really saw what the audience saw. I was, after all, looking at Eric's back every night from onstage, but I could see the faces of every audience and night after night those faces were filled with sublime content and tears of joy.
6. The "Amontillado" duet with Steven Dascoulias and Jerry Eiting in Maui OnStage's "Cask of Amontillado." This is simply the finest pairing of male vocalists on Maui. Should Maui OnStage choose to bring the two back again for Halloween 2012, don't miss the chance to see them sing together. Perhaps additional vehicles should be sought to pair the two actors in musicals on a regular basis.
5. I racked my brain to pick an exact moment from Pro Arts' "Driving Miss Daisy," but instead decided on the sheer magic between Joyce Romero's Daisy and J. Marc Mance's Hoke. As long as these two master actors continue to perform on Maui they will be forever identified with the roles. Any future "Driving Miss Daisy" productions on Maui will evoke mention of Romero and Mance's wonderful work.
4. Lina Krueger in the entire second act of ProArts current production of "Ruthless! The Musical." Krueger is the Lon Chaney of Maui theater, she can be anything so well that we forget it's her and just embrace the new character. Although she played Grizabella in "Cats," her finest moment of 2011 was the transformation of Judy Denmark into Ginger Del Marco.
3. Kepa Aricayos' portrayal of Old Deuteronomy in Maui OnStage's "Cats." If Maui had a local version of a Tony, my vote for best actor would go to Aricayos. His "The Ad-Dressing of Cats" solo while being lifted 30- some feet into the air was easily one of the finest show- stopping moments of the year if not one of the finest performances in Maui stage history.
2. Marc Bamuthi Joseph's "Word Becomes Flesh" gets my vote as the best, most perfect stage show of the year. Sadly very few saw the groundbreaking production at the Castle Theater in November. The most powerful moment in the show was a perfect piece of choreography. As the cast of five danced to the words of Malcolm X, the troupe transformed into a tableau of basketball players taking a jump shot. The speech was about racism and the struggles of the American black male, and in the blink of an eye, an arm was raised and heads were cocked, transforming the comical basketball tableau into five lynched men hanging. The audience got half a laugh, which became a chilling gasp; easily the most powerful dramatic stage moment of the year.
1. (Tie) Casey Murphy's "Roxie" and Lia Krieg's "I Can't Do It Alone" in Maui OnStage's "Chicago." Sure, I'm biased, a lot of us are -who didn't want to work on "Chicago?" All that aside, how could anyone not say "wow," and again "wow" in regards to Maui's Roxie and Velma? This duo was so good that they could have easily dropped into any traveling professional "Chicago" production. Murphy and Krieg could just as easily do these two numbers as an act and find work for the rest of their lives. In fact I vote for one more "wow" as we close out 2011.
Coming in 2012!
"Ruthless! The Musical" by Joal Paley and Marvin Laird, reopens at the ProArts Playhouse Jan. 6. Performances are at 7:30 p.m.Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays.
* Reserved seats for adults are $25, students 18 and younger $20. Ask about the ProArts $20 Kama'aina Nights with valid Hawaii ID. For reservations or more information, call 463-6550 or visit proartspacific.com. "Ruthless! The Musical" contains mild adult content.
"One Hot Winter's Night," an evening of sexy, saucy and bawdy song and dance, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, at the Historic Iao Theater. Featuring live performances by some of Maui's best entertainers including Lia Krieg, Casey Murphy, Jonna Ahn, Natalie Raynes, Patty Silva, Mark Bolden and the fabulous Kit Kat Cabaret. Comedy by Chino LaForge, and live music by the Iao Orchestra. "One Hot Winter's Night" is an adult-themed nostalgic burlesque show, and not appropriate for children younger than 17.
n Tickets are $15. For more information or to make reservations call 244-8680.
Kumu Kahua Theatre presents "A Jivebomber's Christmas," Jan. 20 and 21 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's McCoy Studio Theater. "A Jivebomber's Christmas" is set in a World War II relocation camp for Japanese-Americans. Despite its grim setting, the upbeat plot follows a group of young internees as they rehearse a Christmas variety show being held to keep their spirits up amidst the camp's destitution. Written by Saachiko and Dom Magwili, the play was first produced in 1993 at Los Angeles' Japanese American National Museum, where it has become an annual holiday tradition. "A Jivebomber's Christmas" is filled with traditional Christmas carols, popular music from the 1940s, dance, humor and sentiment. It is a warm, nostalgic lighthearted play.
* The Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m.; general admission tickets are $22 (plus applicable fees), available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or www.mauiarts.org.
Steve-O of "Jackass" fame is coming to Maui to perform an evening of stand-up comedy and daring stunts with his "Too Much Information Tour." Local comics Ed Ka'ahea and Chino LaForge join Steve-O in what is sure to be a memorable event Saturday, Jan. 21, at Ocean's Beach Bar and Grill in Kihei.
* The show is at 8 p.m. and tickets are $35. Advance purchase is required, with tickets available online at hightideconcerts.net or at Ocean's Beach Bar and Grill in Kihei, Westside Vibes in Lahaina, and Bounty Music in Kahului.