Take A Deep Breath And ... Sing!

Back home after a long career with Disney Entertainment, Marian Morrison directs The Breathe Concert on Saturday at Hawaii Theatre

Alana Folen
Wednesday - January 27, 2010
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The Hot Club of Hulaville: (from left) Duane Padilla, Emmett Mahoney, Ginai, David Chiorini and Sonny Silva

The Breathe Concert brings together some of Hawaii’s top talent, directed by a longtime Disney exec

As the saying goes, “Life isn’t measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

That may be true, but on average, a person is said to take 28,880 breaths a day, totaling more than 10.5 million breaths a year. That’s an impressive number considering that, for the majority of healthy individuals, breathing is usually an effortless action.

Yet for those suffering from breathing disorders, taking a breath can be a challenge.

The American Lung Association of Hawaii is teaming up with a cast of nearly 200 of Hawaii’s hottest entertainers, including headliner acts Willie K, Melveen Leed and the Hot Club of Hulaville, as part of the 2010 Breathe Concert this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Hawaii Theatre. In an effort to raise awareness of the growing number of lung diseases in Hawaii - including lung cancer, asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis - ALAH promises to celebrate every breath of life through song and dance.

This year the concert falls into the responsible and capable hands of artistic and creative director Marian Morrison, who recently returned to the Islands after spending many years traveling both nationally and internationally as a casting consultant for Walt Disney Entertainment.

“This Breathe Concert has been a yearlong project,” says Morrison, who has always had a great love for entertainment. “Performing arts is my breath of life and I love it. I’ve always been in this business. I want to impart what I know and share that with future generations and tomorrow’s talent.

Like many of the performers in Saturday’s show, Willie K has seen the effects of lung disease in his family

“It started by believing in the production team, who are really committed and passionate about lung disease,” Morrison explains. “I was inspired, and just in a crazy frenzy I took on the responsibility.”

Morrison has made it her mission to design an evening that she says will entertain, amuse and stimulate your every sense while also promoting a refreshing message.

“When I started to conceive the whole show format, I didn’t want an evening where people would just sit down and watch,” she says. “I want the audience to walk away from the show not only thoroughly entertained, but I want them to walk away inspired to some degree, to be more aware of lung disease and statistics in Hawaii.”

In fact, according to ALAH, more than 175,000 people in Hawaii have been diagnosed with lung disease, which is more than the population of the islands of Maui and Kauai combined. In addition, there are 638 reported cases of lung cancer statewide, and 10.9 percent of Hawaii’s keiki - from newborn to age 17 - suffer from asthma, the second-highest rate in the nation.

“As an artist, I became more informed and I became much more aware of the cause,” Morrison says. “I had no idea what it’s like to be without good breath and have to suffer every day. Now, through this show and being with all the wonderful members of the ALAH board and cast, and learning and reading literature, I understand now - without breath, you have no life. We’re so dependent on good breathing.”

Although Morrison hasn’t experienced a breathing disorder firsthand, she’s watched her sister fight breast cancer over a 22-year period, which later spread to her bones, her lungs and eventually her brain. Morrison says seeing her sister struggle for every breath was a horrendous ordeal.

“Seeing her not being able to breathe, it was horrible to watch, and her cancer didn’t start in her lungs,” she says. “But I believe lung cancer is the silent killer. You can hear the infectious cough and all of that, but more than the kind of cancer where you can physically see the tumor, lung cancer feels a little more invisible.”

Melveen Leed aka Da Tita

Morrison and the cast are certain the message of lung awareness woven into a colorful and whimsical musical will get through to the audience with fun twists in the lyrics, hilarious vignettes, and a wide array of memorable segments of song and dance.

“I hand-picked performers who move me as a spectator and those who I really believe in,” says Morrison, who throughout her career has worked as an award-winning performer, master teacher, administrative director of dance, executive producer, consultant, show director and choreographer.

“The headliners are people who I have always been inspired by and have always adored and admired as talented artists.


“With Willie K, Melveen Leed and the Hot Club of Hulaville, we wanted to have three mini-concerts in one,” Morrison explains. “The audience will come and not only hear a song, they’ll hear segments and they will get a good feeling of what their music is like and a good grasp of the artist.”

A resident of Maui, William Kahaialii, better known as Willie K, has been playing music and entertaining audiences since age 10. Now regarded as one of Hawaii’s finest entertainers,

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