When I lived in L.A., one of the top morning DJs was a guy named George Lopez. In a town that listens to more radio than anyplace else on earth, that can be an incredibly lucrative lifelong gig. After all, Rick Dees has been doing L.A. radio since the late '70s.
Yes, Lopez is very funny, he has had two hit TV shows and has appeared in dozens of films, but he is also a hometown hero. What Lopez brought to his KHHT morning show was a daily stand-up comedy routine. He was also the first Latino to headline a prime morning radio slot in the nation's No. 1 radio market.
In 2000 he was contacted by Sandra Bullock to produce and star in a sitcom. Bullock was concerned about the lack of Hispanic-oriented sitcoms on American television, but she wanted a show that starred Hispanics without being exclusively about the Hispanic-American community. ABC quickly picked up the television series; and in 2002, Lopez became the star of his own show following in the footsteps of Desi Arnez, Freddie Prinze, and John Leguizamo. He has since gone on to become one of the most sought-after stand-up comics in America, while maintaining his nightly host duties on TBS's "Lopez Tonight."
George Lopez, star of TV and radio, will be more of a stand-up kind of guy when he presents “That’s the America I Live In” April 20 at Castle Theater at the MACC.
Photo provided by the Maui Arts & Cultural Center
In one of the classiest moves in TV history, In 2010, Lopez stepped into a later time slot to accommodate Conan O'Brien. Unfortunately, ratings dropped in that midnight slot so he passed on a third season.
In 2006 Lopez was honored with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Joining him that day was his wife, Ann Serrano, and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the city's first Latino mayor since the 1870s.
"I remember being 15 and walking up and down (the Walk) and dreaming about what I wanted to do and never thinking it was going to be done," said Lopez. After suffering with chronic fatigue that went ignored for years, he learned that he had congenital kidney disease and needed a transplant. His wife was a match and donated one of her kidneys to him in 2005.
Always the comedian Lopez quipped, "This is a Chicano's worst nightmare. Something that makes you owe your wife, forever!" The Lopez Foundation, founded by George, was established soon after to create positive, permanent change for underprivileged children and adults confronting challenges in education and health, increase community awareness about kidney disease and organ donation and to aid military families confronting challenges in education and health as well. He has received the Manny Mota Foundation Community Spirit Award and was named Honorary Mayor of Los Angeles for his extensive fundraising efforts benefiting earthquake victims in El Salvador and Guatemala. Other honors include an Imagen Vision Award, the Latino Spirit Award, the National Hispanic Media Coalition Impact Award, the Artist of the Year and Humanitarian Award by Harvard University in honor of his artistic work and charitable endeavors, and People for the American Way honored him with the Spirit of Liberty Award.
Kids may know Lopez's voice from recent animated blockbusters like "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," "Rio," and Grouchy Smurf in "The Smurfs." However, be forewarned, his Maui stand-up performance is intended for adults and contains mature content.
* George Lopez presents "That's The America I Live In" at 8 p.m. Friday, April 20, in Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Tickets are $43.50 and $58.50, plus applicable fees, available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or online at mauiarts.org.
Congratulations to Bill Cole, Ellen Peterson and the Kit Kat Club Cabaret for their standing-room-only hit "Coconut Island" at the Maui Tropical Plantation last Friday. Although the staff was overwhelmed by the 250-plus in attendance, the audience was abuzz with this exciting new locale for live entertainment.
I spoke briefly with Cole and singer/dancer Casey Murphy following the performance. They both admitted that the community's reaction exceeded their wildest dreams.
"We thought we'd get 100 people, maybe," said Cole. Cole and Murphy both hope to bring nightly variety show entertainment to the Tropical Plantation in the near future. The combination of being able to wander the spacious grounds, enjoy fresh island cuisine, cocktails, fire dancers, and a cabaret show was simply fantastic. Best of luck to the dreamers that believe "if you build it they will come."
Maui OnStage revealed its upcoming season at its annual "Sneak Peek" event Saturday night. The 2012-13 lineup will feature a number of contemporary plays and musicals never before seen on Maui. The season opens on Oct. 5, with the British farce "Run For Your Wife" by Ray Cooney. The comedy revolves around a London taxi driver trying to keep his two lives with two wives from exploding. On Nov. 23 a special-effects-heavy production of L. Frank Baum's "The Wizard of Oz" opens just in time for the for the holidays. The familiar tale has had many versions over the years; Maui OnStage will present an adaptation of the 1939 MGM version with all the familiar songs by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg. Early spring brings the Maui premiere of the hit London musical "Shout!: the Mod Musical" featuring the hits of Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark, Lulu and Shirley Bassey. Another Maui premiere, "Hollywood Arms" opens in late April for a two-week run. The Tony Award-winning story is a factual comedy-drama by Carrie Hamilton and her mother Carol Burnett, based on Burnett's impoverished Hollywood beginnings. Finally Maui OnStage concludes with a third Maui premiere of Jonathan Larson's Tony Award-winning mega-hit "Rent" opening July 12. Season Flex passes, which may be used for all five productions will be available soon. For more information visit mauionstage.com.
"Cinderella" opens Friday night at the ProArts Playhouse and runs through April 22. Several cast members return from the previous ProArts fractured fairy tale productions including Bill Schnitzer, Vinnie Linares, Rose Roselinsky, Dale Button and Kristi Scott along with newcomers Casey Murphy (in the title role), Mark Bolden, Sarah Loney, and Dylan Bode. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, April 12 and 19; 4 p.m. Saturdays; and 1 and 4 p.m. Sundays, April 15 and 22. "Cinderella" is intended for all ages.
* Tickets are $15 for reserved seating or $10 for the keiki floor seating. For reservations or more information, call 463-6550 or visit proartspacific.com.
Celebrate First Friday and the Easter weekend in Wailuku this week. The Historic Iao Theater hosts a free Easter egg hunt and keiki screening of "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown" and "Here Comes Peter Cottontail." The hunt for gift-certificate-filled eggs hidden throughout the theater begins at 6:30 p.m.. with the two free screenings to immediately follow. Local vendors donating the dozens of gift certificates include Maui Thing, Wailuku Coffee Company, Pink by Nature boutique, Bohemia boutique, Amigo's, Hula Grill and tickets to "Cinderella" at the ProArts Playhouse, MAPA's "Lesser Ahi," Power Up Comedy and MOS's "On Golden Pond."
Maui OnStage's ONO! returns with Neil Simon's "Fools," at 6:30 p.m. Monday. Set in turn-of-the-century Russia, schoolteacher named Leon Tolchinsky accepts a position in an isolated Ukrainian village. He soon learns that the inhabitants believe that a sorcerer had cursed them with stupidity. For more information regarding the monthly free theater series, please visit mauionstage.com.
Don't miss MAPA's "Murder at the Juice Joint," a benefit for their educational performing arts programs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Maui Country Club in Sprecklesville. Set amidst the glitz and glamour of the roaring 1920s, the party will include fabulous entertainment, delicious food and drinks and a murder game! Costumes are encouraged.
* Tickets are $150 for a "Speakeasy Pass" or $2,000 for an exclusive "Mugs & Molls table" (reserved seating for 8, butler service, VIP parking and more). For reservations and costume rental call 244-8760 or visit mauiacademy.org.
Also upcoming from MAPA is the much anticipated original play "Lesser Ahi," created by Francis Tau'a and Derek Nakagawa and directed by David C. Johnston. Tau'a and Nakagawa will play 20 characters, offering a local take on "Greater Tuna" set in a small Hawaiian town.
"It's pidgin to the max," says Nakagawa. "It will help if you've lived in Hawaii for a while."
n The world premiere of "Lesser Ahi" is Friday, April 20; the run continues through May 5. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays at the Steppingstone Playhouse in Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. Tickets are $16 adults, $14 seniors and $12 students. For reservations or more information, call 244-8760 or visit mauiacademy.org.
Maui OnStage presents "On Golden Pond" by Ernest Thompson, at the Historic Iao Theater April 20 through May 6. The Tony- and Oscar-winning story is the heartwarming tale of Ethel and Norman Thayer, who spend each summer at their lakeshore home on Golden Pond.
* Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays at the Historic Iao Theater. Tickets are $40, $22, and $15. Dinner packages are available with Caf O'Lei and Bistro Casanova. For reservations or more information, call 242-6969 or visit mauionstage. com.