Maui Arts & Entertainment

Playwright to Attend Performance at Iao Theater

June 23, 2013, 2:16 PM HST
* Updated June 24, 12:39 PM
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By Vanessa Wolf

Mom's giftEvery second Monday of the month, the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku presents a free reading, concert, comedy night or poetry slam.

Tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. as part of the “ONO” (one night only) series, they will be presenting the play “Mom’s Gift.”

Billed as a comedy with a heart, the story begins and “Mom” has been dead for 11 months. She shows up at her husband’s birthday party as a ghost on a mission: to accomplish a task necessary to “earn her wings.”

The catch is that she she’s not entirely sure what the mission is. Moreover, the only person who can hear or see Mom is her sarcastic daughter, Kat who is not exactly happy to be back with the family.


The play will be presented in readers’ theater-style with music stands, stools and scripts.


The author of “Mom’s Gift,” Los Angeles-based playwright, Phil Olson, will be attending to host a post-reading discussion.

Phil Olson is a national award-winning playwright with 12 published plays performed in over 300 cities around the US and Canada. His works include the “Don’t Hug Me” series and “Polyester, the Musical” which is billed as “Mamma Mia” meets “Spinal Tap.”

In a reckless last-minute decision that will no doubt inspire the editor of this very publication to send a hastily-typed email with numerous too little/too late protestations and “are you out of your mind?” accusations, we interviewed one of the cast members, who also happens to be the person writing this article. (Indeed, but I will give you points for creativity -Ed.)


Vanessa Wolf, “Journalist”: So how did you become involved in this reading of Mom’s Gift?

Vanessa Wolf, “Actress”: A friend involved with the production asked me if I would be willing, and since he was holding a gun to my sweaty temple at the time, I said yes.

VWJ: That’s not what happened.

VWA: You got me! The truth is he lured me in with promises of fame, stardom and wealth beyond my wildest dreams.

VWJ: So is this the first production you’ve been involved with here on Maui?

VWA: This is the first production I’ve been involved with since high school. In other words: yes.

VWJ: Why the long break?

VWA: I like to leave on a high note. After my starring role as Audrey in “Little Shop of Horrors” I threw in the theater towel: there are a lot of high notes in those songs, particularly “Somewhere That’s Green,” which I still know all the words to because my brain is amazing at archiving totally worthless information.

VWJ: What would you say you bring to this reading of “Mom’s Gift”?

VWA: Unpredictability, hubris, and a staggeringly short attention span.

VWJ: How does that add to the production?

VWA: There will no doubt be at least a half-dozen occasions where I lose complete and total track of where we are in the script and begin to paw through the pages in a dead panic. If you, too, have lost track of what’s happening in the story, you’ll feel better knowing we’re in it together.

VWJ: How did you prepare for the role?

VWA: I’m a dedicated method actor, so I’ve really thrown myself into it 24/7.

Since I’m reading the part of a gold-digging nurse who is dating the recently widowed husband of a woman I was taking care of and may have had a hand in killing, I’ve been hanging around cemeteries in a nurse costume and hitting on people that look like they might be rich.

VWA: Do you have any other theater aspirations?

VWJ: Minus the obvious – appearing on Broadway as everyone’s favorite redheaded orphan “Annie” – no, not really.


“Mom’s Gift” will be presented tomorrow night at the Historic Iao Theater. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. and is free to the public.

Have an idea for a fun or thought-provoking story or topic? Get in touch: we want to hear from you. -Vanessa (

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