There's no business like show business
Like no business I know!
Everything about it is appealing . . .
Oh, excuse me. I've been breaking into song lately, much to the dismay of folks around me. I try to confine my singing to the shower and the car, but even with the windows rolled up and the air conditioner on high, I've startled a few people at stoplights. My neighbors probably think I've got a cat in heat locked up in my bathroom.
I can't help it. I'm as corny as Kansas in August, high as a flag on the Fourth of July. But unlike Nellie Forbush in "South Pacific," I haven't yet found me a wonderful guy. No, the object of my affection is way more broad . . . get it? I'm in love with Broadway.
I've always been a sucker for musicals. I remember watching old Shirley Temple movies with my mom on Sunday afternoons; during the commercials, I'd close my eyes and see myself - with Shirl's curls, of course - tap dancing up and down the stairs with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.
My aunt had one of those huge stereo record player consoles, with a gorgeous walnut cabinet. She got it, and her collection of Japanese records, from Masa Hokama at Hokama's Music & Color TV. Auntie Sachan also had, in addition to every record Elvis Presley ever made, a boxed set of Rodgers & Hammerstein Broadway cast albums. The set included synopses and librettos, so I learned all the songs of "Oklahoma!" and "Carousel" before seeing either show.
I was 11 or 12 when I finally got to see "Carousel" onstage, presented by Miss Sue Ann Loudon and her Baldwin High School thespians. It left me with a longing for the stage and a major crush on future Circuit Court Judge Joe Cardoza, who was an absolute dreamboat as Billy Bigelow.
A couple of years later, I realized my dream of joining the Baldwin Drama Club. Never did get to date Joe, but that's OK; my true love was just around the corner. In my sophomore year, we did "West Side Story" and my passion for theater was cinched. To this day, WSS remains my all-time favorite musical. I know all the words to all the songs and I sing them often. When I'm alone, of course. With my limited vocal range, I'm more Officer Krupke than Maria.
(Side note: I auditioned for the part of Bloody Mary in the 2008 Broadway revival of "South Pacific," and was told that there was no way they could put a baritone in the role, no matter how funny she might be. Two years later, Maui Academy of Performing Arts Artistic Director David Johnston cast me in the MAPA production and allowed me to sing "Bali Ha'i" an octave below the norm. I love that man, almost as much as I love musicals.)
Miss Loudon sometimes called on her former students to help with productions, and that's how I met the Gilliom siblings, Eric and Amy Hanaialii. Eric was a senior and Amy an underclassman when we first worked together. Even then, their talent was undeniable. Another young but seasoned performer who caught my eye was Jerry Eiting. I was a few years older than Jerry, but impressed with his vocal ability and stage presence. The boys played earnest young servicemen and I was the sophisticated Tallulah Bankhead, yet behind the makeup and cigarette holder, I felt like they were the veterans and I the child actor.
This weekend, I get to work with Jerry again, as we co-host "A Broadway Century" at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center's McCoy Studio Theater. That's why I've been belting out bursts of Broadway standards; I'm giddy with anticipation. Artistic Director Gary Shin-Leavitt and the Maui Choral Arts Association have put together an amazing concert featuring excerpts from more than 50 Broadway hits, presented by 70-plus voices and accompanists Lotus Dancer and Beth Fobbe-Wills.
"A Broadway Century" will be presented Saturday and Sunday; tickets are available through the MACC box office. Yes, I know there's a little concert by some old dude named Bob, also on Saturday, but our show starts at 5 p.m., a couple of hours before his. You could do a doubleheader, Broadway and Dylan, or you could catch our Sunday matinee at 3.
And don't worry, I'll leave the singing to Jerry and the Maui Choral Arts folks. I know my limitations. But I'm bringing my tap slippahs, just in case. Nothing like a little tap dance to help a gal steal that extra bow.
There's no people like show people; they smile when they are low . . .
Let's go on with the show!
* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose "Sharing Mana'o" column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.