BEST BETS: Kabler brings the comedy spirit of Robin Williams to Milton

Roger Kabler will take the stage of the Milton Theatre with “The Ultimate Robin Williams Experience” for two shows Sept. 22. (Submitted photo)

Roger Kabler thought he was done with it all.

After a couple of decades in show business as a standup comic, actor and director, along with having his own sitcom for a season, Mr. Kabler was headed to live in the woods of New England to become a full-time painter.

“I tried to come back several times and it just didn’t quite catch. So I let it go,” he said.

Until he started to hear voices …

Always a big fan of actor and comedian Robin Williams, Mr. Kabler felt a special kinship with the late entertainer.

“When ‘Mork and Mindy’ came out in 1978, I thought ‘Oh, my God. This is nuts. This guy is me. He stole my act.’ Although I was 15 or 16 at the time and didn’t have an act,” he said.

“We even have pictures of me as a kid making a splash at a party and acting nuts like Robin would and I would just get high from the laughter. We also shared a lot of the same traits like loneliness as a child, isolation and then later drug and alcohol issues.”

When Mr. Williams died in 2014, he said people would ask him if he was OK and would he ever do a tribute show devoted to his idol. An impressionist, he was already known for his pinpoint interpretation of the actor known for such films as “Patch Adams” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

And he heard through mutual friends that Mr. Wllliams had seen his impression and loved it.

Still he resisted the idea.

“But then Robin started coming around in a weird way,” Mr. Kabler said.

“He started haunting me in a way that it felt like he was on my mind a lot. Some of the things I was doing and saying felt like a manifestation of his presence. I wouldn’t say it was supernatural but I was definitely channeling him.”

The more he tried to get rid of the feelings, the more they would arise.

“Things would just pop out of my mouth like ‘Let’s get back to work,’” he said, in a voice sounding remarkably like Mr. Williams.

“I would say ‘Leave me alone.’ He would say ‘No.’ Finally I just said ‘Go hang out and I’ll see what I can do.’ I called my manager and he said ‘Do you want to do a tribute show?’ and I said ‘Yeah, I do. I think Robin wants to go back to work.’”

Thus “The Ultimate Robin Williams Experience” was born. The production will hit the Milton Theatre Sept. 22 at 3 and 8 p.m.

The show, in two parts, starts with Mr. Kabler inhabiting Mr. Williams with standup comedy along with characters from his famous films.

The second half features Mr. Kabler doing a range of different impressions and comedy setups such as a musical version of “The Godfather” and Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci performing the classic Abbott and Costello routine “Who’s on First?”

The Robin part of the show contains improv and set material reflective of Mr. Williams’ standup routines.

“We talk about whatever is going on in the room. I may start talking about the hurricane (this weekend). We get into addiction issues as he and I both had. He would do deaf people and take on racial issues. But it was never mean-spirited. He found the funny in everything and that’s what I try to do,” he said.

“The show may get a little naughty but it’s never mean.”

Mr. Kabler said clubs and theaters were dismissive of the idea of a Robin Williams tribute right away, thinking it was too soon after his passing. But for the last couple of years, Mr. Kabler has performed shows nationwide.

“The only time I’ve ever had somebody say anything negative was when I was hired to do Robin at a party and someone said it was kind of creepy. I said ‘Sorry it’s a gig. I’ll be doing Robert DeNiro soon.’ And it was fine after that,” he said.

“But other than that, Cindy Williams (who co-starred on “Laverne and Shirley”) hugged me. So I feel like I’m doing the job I should be doing.”

Mr. Kabler said the show does not mention Mr. Williams’ death. It’s just a straight celebration of the man and his comedy.

“I’m just trying to give the joy and ebullience of the man and not the bummer of how it ended,” said Mr. Kabler, who is working on a film based on his experiences entitled “Being Robin”

“The audience is never in for a bummer. It’s always just a good time with a lot of laughter.”

He says doing the show is like “hang gliding in a hurricane.”

“I’m always exhausted by the end of it. I feel like he’s experiencing the show every time I’m on stage. He gets high off of the laughter and I can feel him reveling in it. He wasn’t done.

“This was not my plan. He approached me. I miss him. I miss that wild, crazy, impulsive entertainer every day.”

Tickets for the show are $20-$25. They can be purchased at www.MiltonTheatre.com, via phone by calling 302-684-3038 or at the box office at 110 Union St.

This event is for ages 18 and over.

Weather postponements

Concerns over the effects of Hurricane Florence has forced the postponement or cancellation of a few local events this weekend.

Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity’s sixth annual Blackjack to Build, scheduled for Saturday, has been postponed until the spring due to weather concerns.

All tickets that have already been purchased will be honored for the spring event. Watch centraldelawarehabitat.org for details about the rescheduled date

This is a no-risk casino style event hosted by Lessard Builders and family. All attendees are given $300 in funny money to use at the Blackjack and Texas Hold-em tables. The five players with the most funny money at the end of the night are awarded door prizes.

The event takes place under the stars at the Lessard residence in Burwood Estates in Dover.

The event includes dinner, wine, beer, Fordham craft sodas, $300 of “funny money” for table games, live music, a silent and live auction and a wall of wine.

For tickets, find the event at Eventbrite.com.

Mispillion River Brewing’s crab feast for Toys for Tots, scheduled for Saturday, has been rescheduled for Oct. 6. All tickets purchased will be honored then. If you need a refund, contact ben@mrbrewing.com.

The crab feast will be held from 4 to 9 p.m. Guests will enjoy all-you-can-eat crabs from Meding’s Seafood and a variety of sides such as hamburgers, hot dogs, pulled chicken, potato salad, cole slaw, macaroni and cheese, bourbon barbecue beans, corn or corn on the cob, pasta salad, and grilled summer vegetables.

Tickets are $40 in advance and $50 at the door. Children under 10 are free with two paying adults and the donation of a toy. Tickets for the Crab-B-Que are available online at https://mispillion-river-brewing.ticketleap.com.

Due to cancellations by panelists who would have been traveling from the Carolinas, the program “The First People of the First State: ‘Deciphering American Indian DNA’ ” has been canceled. The program had been scheduled to take place Saturday at the Old State House.

‘As You Like It’

Weather permitting, The Green in Dover will be transformed into the Forest of Arden as the Brown Box Theatre Project Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” tonight at 7:30.

In the event of bad weather, the production will be moved indoors.

The theater company has been performing its eighth annual free, outdoor Shakespeare tour of “As You Like It” at various parks in Delaware during September.

“As You Like It” transports audiences into the heart of one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies. It features a motley cast of characters who, when they’re banished from the court, find that misdirection, desire, and serendipity unite to form a tangled web of identity and love that could only be possible in a pastoral haven where expectations are turned upside-down.

The Pretty Crazies

The Pretty Crazies, a high energy group of musicians who sing original songs about inclusion, being yourself, standing up for what is right and loving your neighbor, will perform a free concert tonight at the Dover Public Library at 6:30.

With Dover singer-songwriter Amy Spampinato, this is an interactive concert of children’s music.

Dover Public Library is at 35 E. Loockerman Plaza.

Carvers wanted

Finally, the Biggs Museum and the Delaware State Fair are seeking carvers for the first Great Delaware Pumpkin Carve Festival on Oct. 26 and 27. Registration is open until Oct. 10 or whenever 50 carvers is reached so carvers are encouraged to register soon to guarantee space.

The Great Delaware Pumpkin Carve Festival is an all-weather Halloween event that will take place at the Delaware State Fairgrounds under roof in the Quillen Arena.

Families can come check out a Pumpkin Trail of 50 carved pumpkins, each weighing from 150 to 300 pounds. The Biggs Museum and the Delaware State Fair are inviting creative pumpkin carvers ranging from 1st time carvers to seasoned pros to come and carve pumpkins provided by the event.

The 50 enrolled carvers and their teams will meet their assigned pumpkins for the first time and begin carving at 6 p.m. under the watchful eye of festival spectators who are invited to attend.

Festival patrons can also participate in spooky walk-through haunted barns (one themed for young children and the other a little more intense for teens and older patrons), hayrides, kids activities including miniature pumpkin decorating and more. Kids and adults are encouraged to come wearing their Halloween costumes.

The festival will continue into Oct. 27 when the 50 carved pumpkins will be on display in a Halloween-themed holiday setting using hay bales and creative illumination.

Carvers can include individuals, families, or a work group carving team. In order to carve at the festival, you need to apply by completing the online application at: www.delawarepumpkincarve.com/carverapp.

Local businesses are also invited to sponsor one of the giant pumpkins being transformed into works of art. Great Delaware Pumpkin Carve sponsorships are available for $100. Details are available on the event website.

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is the suspense-thriller “A Simple Favor,” the horror-fantasy film “The Predator,” the sequel “Unbroken: Path to Redemption” and Matthew McConaughey true-life crime film “White Boy Rick.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.