Amy Hanaiali’i Gilliom’s name is synonymous with being one of Hawaii’s most successful contemporary Hawaiian recording artists. She’s recorded 16 albums, and is famously known for her immaculate Hawaiian falsetto style known as ha’i. She has 22 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards and five Grammy nominations.
But many of her fans don’t know that Gilliom is also a great theatrical actor. In fact, when she started recording with Willie K back in the 1990s, she was fresh off of the Hollywood audition circuit, and had done studio work with Jamie Foxx, her college classmate.
“Before that album in 1995 with Willie that started it all, I got a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Theatre from music school in San Diego,” she says. “I grew up through Maui Youth Theatre and the Baldwin Theatre Guild. I was auditioning in L.A. a lot. Jamie Foxx was my classmate so (back when he was Eric Bishop) we would go up to L.A. and do studio work all the time and do a lot of fun background vocals. Then I auditioned for Les Miserables and my number in line was 7,392 so I kind of thought, ‘hmmmm this is not really it.’ I looked across the way and saw a billboard for Natalie Cole playing at the Hollywood Bowl, and thought that is what I want to do!”
Gilliom says she knew she wanted to go into show business from a young age. She started as a self-proclaimed theatre geek at Baldwin High. Her grandmother, Jennie Napua Hanaiali’i Woodd, was an entertainer and mentor to her. After college, Gilliom started producing shows herself with her brother Eric on Maui.
“I was still doing a lot of back and forth to San Diego and L.A.,” Gilliom recalls. “Jamie [Foxx] was in In Living Color then and I was still flying up to do some work with him. I just wasn’t feeling it after a while and I came home. My brother and I started producing our own shows. We did them at Iao Theatre–the Maui Arts and Cultural Center wasn’t built yet. I did Evita, we did Godspell. These were our own productions at Iao Theatre.”
This Friday, Aug. 21, Gilliom hits the stage in Castle Theatre as Eva Peron again in the Maui Academy of Performing Arts (MAPA) production of Evita. It’s 25 years after her first Evita performance, and this time the show is under the direction of David Johnston, with Andre Morissette handling choreography.
“Evita is kicking my bootie!” she says. “Touring is one thing. It’s a lot of late hours and funky eating, you are on planes all the time, always moving. I try to keep a workout schedule, and I have Maddy–my daughter–and my mom lives with me. There are a lot of dynamics right now.”
Eva Perón – Amy Hānaialiʻi Gilliom
Juan Perón – Francis Tau’a
Che – Kepa Cabanilla-Aricayos
Perón’s Mistress – Danielle Delaunay
Agustin Magaldi – Joey Schumacher
Ensemble – Jay Agasid, Ashlyn-Jade Aniban, Heather Bartlemus, Craig Bode, Shane Borge, Alfred Cantorna, Emily Cantorna, Dr. Virgie Cantorna, Alice Carter, Maile Castro, Jordyn Clarke, Haylie Daunhauer, Haley DeForest, Gina Duncan, Christie Ellison, Molli Fleming, Marion Haller, Halia Haynes, Casey Hearl, Tasiana Igondjo, Aeris Joseph, Brock Kahoohanohano-Ambrose, Julie Kawamura, Kevin Lawrence, Carlyn Leal, Jayse Leong, Nomi Macadangdang, Betty Miller, Orion Milligan, Danann Mitchell, Kaimana Neil, Tully O’Reilly, Jim Oxborrow, Sara Patton, David Pisoni, Isaac Rauch, David Rooks, Karli Rose, Kela Rothstein, Molly Schad, Cole Schafer, Emma Smith, Scott Smith, Theresa Supera, Joylene Nina Tabon, Marc Tolliver, Preston Watanabe, Eliza Wright, Nolan Yee
Tango Dancers – Vicky Ayers, Rose Baiot, Marcia Barnett, Peter Black, Sagundah Ferro Black, Hawkeye Lannis, Doug Miller, Nadama, Rita Okeane, Tom Weierhauser
Children’s Chorus – Ian Aguinaldo, Avery Ardoin, Madeline Austin, Ashton Chargualaf, Nealon Guzman, Kaylee Herman, Sofia Kafami, Randi Lonzaga, Haley Mahoe, Luna Graham Milligan, Jena Mukai, Elly Smith, Erin Smith, Dutch Tanaka Akana, Jillian Vince-Cruz