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Kimee Balmilero hosts virtual Hawaii variety show ‘Mee Time’ to support local performers

                                Kimee Balmilero on the Tiny Stage where she’ll host “Mee Time” in Kakaako, introducing guests who connect digitally.
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Kimee Balmilero on the Tiny Stage where she’ll host “Mee Time” in Kakaako, introducing guests who connect digitally.

The irrepressible Kimee Balmilero, late of “Hawaii Five-0” and founder of Improv Hawaii, was just days away from hosting the premiere of a talk show-like performance series on Improv’s Tiny Stage in Kakaako. Then a cascade of coronavirus-­related social-distancing health and safety orders took effect.

Showcasing her ability to, well, improvise, she’s bringing “Mee Time” to a screen near you — online.

The streaming show, no more than 30 minutes long, includes musical performances and Zoom interviews of celebrities with Hawaii connections, conducted by the effervescent Balmilero.

The episodes are meant to support local performers, who have lost their livelihoods as venues are shuttered. Viewers can donate virtual tips to the featured artists, and episodes will be available for repeat streaming.

“It’s not going to be a live show or a livestream, but we want it to feel like one,” Balmilero said.

“It will be pieced together and hopefully entertaining,” Balmilero said, explaining, “I used to grow up watching David Letterman and that was my dream, to have a talk show … including certain little goofy moments, like that.

“It’s essentially what I find entertaining,” she said — “so if you like that, tune in!”

Monday’s debut show features musician Izik Moreno, a charismatic pop and R&B artist.

When she first saw Moreno perform, Balmilero said, “He just blew my mind!”

Moreno doesn’t perform traditional Hawaiian music, Balmilero notes, “but you still feel that energy, that grounded feeling. Coming from the islands, it’s such a nice breath of fresh air.”

“We’re also interviewing special guests, like Amy Hill, who is an actor on ‘Magnum P.I.,’ and so many other projects,” she said. “And Mark Kanemura, who is a local kid.”

On the Wednesday show, Balmilero interviews musician Nick Kawakami of ­ManoaDNA fame (he’s also a Realtor). The featured artist is songwriter Alx Kawakami.

“Mee Time” closes out the first week on Friday with actor Hill, known for her role as Kumu on the current “Magnum P.I.” reboot and hundreds of other roles in films and television series such as “Fifty First Dates,” “The Cat in the Hat” and “Preacher.” Local guitar artist Wil Tafolo is the featured musician.

Kanemura, who is also in the first episode, has become a social-media phenomenon on Instagram with his colorful, live dance parties.

Like Balmilero, Kanemura was born and grew up on Oahu. They have known each other since she was 16 and he was 11 or 12, and both appeared in “Tommy” at Diamond Head Theatre.

“His claim to fame is that, at first, he was a finalist on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ (and then went on to be a choreographer for the show), and then of course a Lady Gaga dancer,” she said. “But Mark has also morphed into this advocate for inclusion, and for, you know, loving yourself!

“Seeing him dance — sometimes he’s in workout clothes, sometimes in a gown. It just warms my heart,” she said.

“I’m just thankful for him as a fellow human,” Balmilero said. “He’s out there for other people who might be having a hard time. … To accept yourself and love yourself — who doesn’t want that right now?”

The streaming show “Mee Time” premieres Monday at 6 p.m., and will launch new episodes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. See it at ­tinystagehi.com.

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