On the Scene with Tom Holowach
After 18 years managing Paliku Theatre at Windward Community College and producing shows there, Tom Holowach, 68, is retiring effective Feb. 28.
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Tom Holowach already had a career in the creative arts when he and his wife, Holly, made their home in Hawaii in 1998. Born and raised in upstate New York, Holowach had studied theater at the State University of New York in Oneonta, N.Y., been a television newscaster, professional photographer, freelance special events producer and a stage manager at Disneyland in California.
When Holowach was hired to manage Paliku Theatre at Windward Community College in 2001, his first task was to take charge of the floundering project and get the theater finished and operating. Holowach solved the problems and developed Paliku into an important venue in Hawaii’s vibrant theater community. He also found time to perform as an actor at Paliku and at other island theaters.
After 18 years managing Paliku and producing shows there, Holowach, 68, is retiring effective Feb. 28.
Why retire now?
I could have retired a couple of years ago but I wanted to figure out an orderly transition. There is a lot of institutional knowledge that nobody else knows, but we’ve managed to put together a wonderful backstage crew and I know that I can just let go of things. We’ve now done two shows since Mr. (Ron) Bright passed away (in 2015) with the Bright Foundation; we know that we can continue doing that. Our WCC drama department, Nick Logue and Taurie (Kinoshita), is getting better and better and I feel that I can hand that (responsibility) off. That’s what I was waiting for.
Do you have a favorite show from the ones you produced at Paliku?
“Les Miz.” I was not a huge “Les Miz” fan. I had never seen a good production of it until I saw Mr. Bright’s conception of it. Everything worked so perfectly that I finally understood why everyone loves the show so much.
What was your favorite performance as an actor in Hawaii?
King Arthur in “Camelot.” When Holly and I met I discovered that “Camelot” was her favorite show and her favorite movie. When we got married in ’79 she designed a “Camelot”-theme wedding. I loved the show too, so when Army Community Theatre did “Camelot” in 2004 I went for it — Bryan Bender was cast as Arthur but I was Sir Dinadan. When they decided to do it again in 2010 I auditioned and was promoted from knight to king. The most fun about the role was capturing the transition from the innocent young boy into the world-weary king.
How’d you get the sword?
Bryan thought Arthur should have a better sword than the prop he was given, so the cast chipped in to buy an Excalibur replica. When I played Arthur I inherited the sword.
I learned last week that while you were working at Disneyland you stage-managed the first-ever “live” performance by All-4-One. What thoughts came to mind when you were watching them last Sunday — 25 years later — at the Blue Note Hawaii in Waikiki?
Back then I was just amazed at how young they were. They literally were just out of high school. Thinking about that at the Blue Note, I realized that it was the beginning of a particular genre of a capella music. They were the real deal. It was great to have them re-sign the sign that they signed for me in ’94.
What’s next for you?
When I got the job at Paliku I was a consulting producer of events so I’m going to go back to doing that. I like working on projects, and I know how hard it is to find people who know what they’re doing.