By Wayne Harada
Hawaii’s theater community is mourning the death of Greg Howell, an award-winning actor on stage and a versatile wizard backstage.
Howell, known for his inventive and creative wig and makeup design, died Christmas Eve following a courageous nine-months battle with cancer.
Close friends were at his side at his passing.
Howell was a much-liked actor who had a passion for makeup and wig design. Over the years, his artistry has won him laurels both for his acting and his theatric designs.
He had been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma B-cell cancer, and his illness led to months of hospitalization and treatments.
While he graced the stages and backroom quarters of several theater companies in Honolulu, he was most active as a hair and makeup artist for a decade and a half at Manoa Valley Theatre, performing in such diverse plays as “Deathtrap,” “Tuesdays With Morrie,” “Fully Committed,” “The Rocky Horror Show,” and “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” For “Committed,” Howell played 40 roles, and ultimated earned a Po’okela Award for his acting.
“This is a great loss for the theater and Hawaii’s theatrical community,” said Dwight Martin, producing director of MVT. “He touched many people with his unending talent and charm.”
Because of the cancer, Howell, whose livelihood was with the Paul Brown Salon and Spa, Howell was unable to continue his regimen of involvement in stage shows, either on or off.
He last appeared in an MVT production in the ensemble for 2011’s award-winning “August: Osage County,” and his last show as a hair and makeup stylist of “Spring Awakening,” earlier this year.
In the 2012 Po’okela Awards, bestowed by the Hawaii State Theatre Council’s, Howell earned the Pierre Bowman Award for lifetime achievement in the performing arts, notably for his hair and makeup artistry.
Besides MVT, he worked with The Actors Guild and Army Community Theatre, among others.
His circle of theater friends have staged a couple of fund-raising shows to help him with mounting costs, and Howell attended the last one at Paliku Theatre despite his pain and discomfort.
A celebration of his life is tentatively set from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at Manoa Valley Theatre. It is open to his friends and extended theatrical family. Details will be announced shortly.