Using a Roaring Twenties jazz cabaret as its inspiration, Zoe Eisenberg and Bella O’toole, co-founders of Aerial Arts Hawai’i (AAH), are presenting CRAZY – An Aerial Jazz Cabaret, Friday, Sept. 20, and Sunday, Sept. 22. at the Palace Theatre in Hilo. The provocative promo trailer created for the event features several flamboyant flapper girls dressed in shiny sequin outfits spinning high above a stage, while the MC scats a dreamy melody like Ella Fitzgerald. One dancer does the splits over a wide white clawfoot tub, and, yes, there’s a feather boa to complete the scene. Altogether, Crazy will feature 15 circus-type acts performed by 15 aerial artists, including four songs sung live.
“This will be our fourth annual show at the Palace,” said Eisenberg. “Our first was a general circus variety show called Take Flight (2017). In 2018, we did a Valentine’s Day show called Love In The Air– we sold out, which was amazing! Last year was a Halloween show called Creepshow — A Scare in the Air. I guess the concept is similar to a Cirque de Soleil show – it operates under a look, a theme and vibe. With Crazy, we thought it would be really fun to do a 1920s themed show at the Palace Theatre since it was built in the ‘20s. Crazy is our first show with a narrative setting, and the opening act sets up the premise of the show and then it sort of moves into a circus.”
Crazy’s MC, Kat Reuss, who previously starred as Nellie Forbush in the Kahilu Theatre’s production of South Pacific, will perform four songs. Although Crazy was inspired by the 1920s jazz era, it’s a modern interpretation of the time-period. The show’s diverse setlist features jazz covers of modern pop and rock songs all done karaoke style: “We Can’t Stop” (Miley Cyrus), “A Little Party” (Fergie), “Crazy” (Gnarles Barkley), and “Hotline Bling” (Drake). The pre-recorded music is performed by PMJ, Postmodern Jukebox, a musical collective known for reworking popular modern music into different vintage genres.
Reuss appeared in AAH’s 2018 Valentine’s show where she sang and did a trapeze act. “The Big Island’s ariel community is very small, so we reached out to Kat,” recalled Eisenberg. “Once we saw her range, and knew what she could accomplish, we started playing with the idea of building the current show and using Kat.” “I have been studying and practicing aerial arts for six years now, added Reuss. “I have a been a performer in theater, music, and dance since I was eight-years-old. I started doing aerials with Hawaii Aerial and Performing Arts based in Waikoloa Village, and kept learning from other teachers from all over the world. I Have been teaching aerial silks at the Kahilu Theater in Waimea for four years.”
Reuss’ character’s name is Crazy and shared her thoughts about the upcoming show. “I’m excited to be working with the most talented group of aerialists the island has to offer, and I’m excited about the fun ‘20s glam theme. I also enjoy playing a character who is considered “crazy,” because I get to let loose and be freer. It’s important to me to play her more realistic than cartoonish, however. I hope the audience feels a little more in touch with their crazy side after this performance.”
Aerial art is growing in popularity on the Big Island. “We have all these amazing artists on the island,” said Eisenberg, “and a lot of them are professionally trained and went to college for circus arts. They were training multiple hours per week but had nowhere to perform, so I put on my producer’s hat with my partner Bella O’toole and started creating aerial shows.”
Tickets for Crazy are $25 for general admission, $35 for reserved in advance and $30 or $40 at the door. Reserved Seating is only available at the Palace Theater Box Office and over the phone at (808) 934-7010, Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. General Admission tickets are available online at www.aerialartsHawai’i.com and www.HiloPalace.com. This show is rated PG-13 – Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
In addition to their annual Palace production, Aerial Arts Hawai’i is a production and talent company based out of East Hawai‘i. For more information, visit www.aerialartsHawai’i .com.