Archive for February, 2009

There is, after all, no biz like show

February 27th, 2009
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It was like all those boldfaced names in my columns coming to life.
That was the feeling, as I watched and listened and soaked in that tribute for Yours Truly, this past Sunday at the Waikiki nei Showroom at the Royal Hawaiian Center.
It was a gathering of stars. On stage, in the seating gallery, on screen.
It attracted friends, performers, and hundreds of readers (some I met for the first time), who’ve been along on my journey via the newspaper these past 44 ½ years. So I retire... and I get this biggie, because my longtime friend Cha Thompson called a few peers and wanted to do something to mark the milestone. Feel still undeserving, but it was funderful.
From a simple feast around her kitchen table (big, but too small  for the folks who wanted to say aloha), the idea surged into a showroom extravaganza requiring scores of committee folks and volunteers and musicians and technicians and ticket-sellers...
You get the idea.
So yes, I’m stoked —  filled with  exhilaration and gratitude, a memory that will never be forgotten. And just because I’m pau hana.
From a numbers standpoint, 700 attended the event, sat through a marvelous no-intermission mini-marathon of four hours-plus, and got their money’s worth — and more. At least $32,000 was raised, well over the $14,000 goal, plus a charitable on-the-spot donation from Carole Kai Charities ($5,000), with one Island businessman anonymously donating $2,000 for the cause without expecting credit. So Helping Hands and The Advertiser Christmas Fund are happy campers — charity and kokua were the bottom line.

More than 80 stars/acts appeared, in person or digitally, including a live iChat with magician David Copperfield, who was doing a gig in El Paso, but paused long enough to share his aloha. If you're old enough, you'll recall that before he became the David Copperfield, the wizard of ah's who could make the Statue of Liberty disappear and survive the implosion of a building and teleport folks from a showroom to a far-off destination, he was a kid with a can-do attitude who launched his trek to fame at the Pagoda restaurant's C'est Bi Bon club back when we were all young and ambitious.

Copperfield’s ascent had parallels in the Island galaxy, as many of the folks involved in the biz of show began as struggling artists with a zeal to perform. That they returned to share aloha via song, hula, 'ukulele-strumming and comedy was a humbling and truly touching element. It made me feel that you’re only as good as the audience you serve, and there was plenty of validation that these incredibly talented people, many seasoned and a few still finding their niche in Island show biz, are every bit of the success they alluded as they  reflected on the end of my 44 1/2-year tenure as The Advertiser's entertainment fella.

That's a lifetime of memories compacted into a frisky and formidable show that surely lifted spirits in this spell of a dour economy, job loss, foreclosure and an uncertain and cloudy future.

Personally, there were some teary moments:

•    Loretta Ables Sayre’s backstage aloha, involving her co-stars from “South Pacific” via video — a validation that Island stars can  reach for the moon and find their place in the show biz universe. Met them all last summer during a visit. She somebody — forever.
•    The surprise reunion of The Fabulous Krush, with still-in-charge Edwin Ramones,  joined by Hal Bradbury; when he sang "Waialua Sky," the moisty eyes turned to genuine tears ... of  happiness and reflection. Jessie Gamiao, Freddy Von Paraz (on loan from the Society of Seven Las Vegas) and two kinfolk of Bucci Canencia, his brother and his cousin.  All about ohana and roots,
•    A “Les Miserables” medley, my all-time-favorite musical (seen it more than 20 times, here and elsewhere), courtesy Diamond Head Theatre, with Tricia Marciel (“I Had a Dream”), Shawna Masuda (“On My Own”) and Layton “Elika” Santos (“Do You Hear the People Sing”).  My heart was filled with love, with watery eyes.
•    Dean Pitchford ... singing? For the scriptwriter-composer, it was a departure of style. Let’s hear it for this local boy Oscar winnah!

“The entertainers brought back many wonderful memories from our days of our youth and we simply sat back and soaked it all in,” said Karen Maeda, a retired University of Hawaii secretary in an e-mail. “It was the ‘Show of Stars’ of Hawaii and just as Wayne was overwhelmed, we were overjoyed
with it all.  I hope somebody made a video out of this!”
And from Claire Sato, a retired librarian: “It was such a blast to be so royally entertained. I had the greatest time and time just flew by.”
One  visitor told Cha Thompson that she should repeat this show and take it on the road.
Indeed, the wealth of talent (The Brothers Cazimero slipping in a wedge of  “A Chorus Line” alongside the Hawaiiana — and dropping names like Tia Carrere and Daniel Ho), the range of musical memories (Marlene Sai doing “Waikiki,” Karen Keawehawaii singing with Cha dancing), even a sample of sexy fun (Tony Young from Manoa Valley Theatre’s “Rocky Horror Show”) and titaness to da max (Melveen Leed) had the house enthused, amused, delighted.
Add Amy Hanaialaii, Jake Shimabukuro and Taimane Gardner, Frank DeLima and Augie T. (and Rey), Carole Kai and Kevin I doing shtick,  and Jordan Segundo, Rolando Sanchez, Danny Kaleikini, SOS LV, Danny Couch, Afatia, the Reccas, Jeff Rasmussen, Cathy Foy, the Reccas, Ken Makuakane, Kanoe Miller, Honolulu Theatre for Youth's "Rap's Hawai'i" trio and the Steve Jones Trio. And wow, Shari Lynn should be on Broadway, don’t you think?  And wasn’tgentleman Jim Nabors special? Gollee.
Jimmy Borges concocted those special lyrics for the opening and closing numbers — hey  Jeremiah, take this talent on the road!
The master of the house, of course, was emcee Al Waterson, who had a script but a quick wit to improv when necessary. What a workhorse.

The collectible tee shirts (the image was “borrowed” for the program cover) was the brainchild of Frannie Kirk of Outrigger Entertainment, and that meant  $500 more for charity.
And that’s the biz of show that I loved for  44 years ... and still loving it now. Mahalo plenty, to all of you...

Special mentions, mahalo nui loa:

*  Jack Thompson, aka Tihati; welcome your wife back into your life. Yeah, it's been a long three months.

* Roy Tokujo, of Waikiki nei: Your showroom was awesome; arigato for its use, rent-free.

* Gloria Chung, of Pacific Expos; you were the wind beneath Cha's wings.

* John Tilton, of Tihati and New Hope; you shared a lot of charity — and patience.

* Jimmy Borges, lyricist-singer extraordinaire; Jeremiah, you're a bullfrog of parodies, just croakin' hot.

* Al Waterson, of  "Al Waterson and You;" you sing, you dance, you emcee, you do handyman work, you're all over the map.

* Nancy Waterson, Al's partner in crime and love; you were the queen of backstage smarts.

* Yemun Chung, of Impact Events and Promo Edge; mahalo for program sales and box office kokua.

* Jack Cione, of  Arcadia: You bring new depth to "senior moment;" mahalo for program sales and box office management.

* Noah Parker, of Hawaii Kai: Like a true Farrington Governer, you still go forth to serve; mahalo for gathering all those Gov volunteers and thanks for your program production input.

* Lisa Josephsohn, of Elissa Josephsohn Public Relations: appreciate for your program support and coordinating all those video shoots — and for your magic with acquiring David Copperfield.

* Derek Tamura, of derek@go2self.org;  arigato for the playbill program design and graphics.

* Sara Platte, promotions volunteer; amazing, your those broadcast media placements.

* Frannie Kirk, of Outrigger Entertainment and Ron Lee and the Outrigger Showroom ohana; mahalo for your brilliant idea for the keepsake tee shirt  and thanks for the loan of the image for the program cover.

* Mark Platte, of The Advertiser; hey boss, thanks for allowing staff to do chores (or you didn't know?) for the show...and, well, everyone helped pull it off!

* Leslie Kawamoto, of The Advertiser; you're the do-everything, go-to dearie whot kept the ball rolling and ticket sales going.

* Gregory Yamamoto, of The Advertiser; arigato for shooting all those local videos comments.

* Derek Daniels, of Derek Daniels Productions; thanks for choreographing the opening and closing numbers.

* Rip Taylor, the comedian, and Martin Nievera, the singer; I know, I know, you sent video messages for the show, but one had tech problems and the other arrived too late to make the cut; but thanks, thanks, guys.

* And pre-show performers — the Abrigo 'Ohana, Noly Pa'a, KFC (Keith Haugen, Frank Uehara and Carmen Haugen) and Sonny Ching's Halau Na Mamo O Pu'uanahulu; aloha plenty for warming up the house.

* Finally, to fellow bloggers Catherine E. Toth and Rodney Lee, domo arigato for your generous sharing — of comments and of photos — from Sunday's extravaganza. Check 'em out, if you haven't yet:

Catherine E. Toth's...
http://dailydish.honadvblogs.com/2009/02/23/what-a-sunday/

Rodney Lee's...
http://midlifecrisis.honadvblogs.com/2009/02/23/tribute-to-wayne-harada-pictorial/#comment-11023

 

 

Save a theater, see a live show

February 25th, 2009
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Go see a show ... support Island theater.
We don’t want to see closures, amid this depressed economy, the way restaurants have been shuttering.
Besides, there are plenty of should-see stuff in the days and weeks ahead.
Like:

“Curtains,”
at Army Community Theatre’s Richardson Theatre, Fort Shafter

A  Hawaii premiere of  a Tony Award winning musical that’s a backstage whodunit, with  a book by Rupert Holmes, composer of  “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” and the hit song, “Escape (The Pina Colada Song),” with music by John Kander and Fred Ebb, creators of  “Chicago” and “Cabaret,” so it has some pedigree.
Plot/cast: involves a theater company’s leading lady, Jessica Cranshaw, played by Tina Shelton, who dies during a curtain call, prompting a murder investigation. The cast includes Tom Holowach as a stage-struck police lieutenant Frank Cioffi (which earned David Hyde Pierce a Tony Award on Broadway), Leonard Klompus as the director of a musical in a show-within-a-show, and Shanan Colvin as the new leading lady Niki Harris.
Showtimes:  Premieres at 7:30 p.m. this Thursday; repeats at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, through March 14.
Tickets: $15 to $28.
Reservations: 438-4480, www.armytheatre.com.

“Footloose — The Musical,”
at Mamiya Theatre, Saint Louis School

A musical by Tom Snow (music), Dean Pitchford (music), with additional music by Kenny Loggis; book by Pitchford and Walter Bobbie.
Plot: A tale of youth challenging laws that forbid dancing in a farming town, with such hits as “Footloose” and “Let’s Hear It for the Boy.” Yep, it's based on the hit movie with Kevin Bacon. Pitchford, a Saint Louis album, will be at a fund-raising gala.
Showtimes:  Premieres at 7:30 p.m. March 6, with a benefit gala  7:30 p.m. March 7; repeats at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays, through March 22.
Tickets: $22 general, $18 students, military, students and seniors over 60; $15, children under 12; gala, $100.
Reservations: 550-8457,  www.honoluluboxoffice.com; gala, 739-4862.

"Sumida River,"
at Kennedy Theatre

A Japanese noh theater tale of a distraught mother's quest for her abducted son, kidnapped by slave traders.
Plot: The mother discovers the chilling truth of the whereabouts of her missing child while crossing the Sumida river; authetic and exquisite costuming, with traditional music and movement, with masks also bringing a haunting and compelling element.
Showtimes: Premieres at 8 p.m. March 6; repeats at 8 p.m. March 7 and again at 8 p.m. March 12 and 13 and 2 p.m. March 15.
Tickets: $18 general, $16 faculty, seniors and military; $12 students, $5 UH students.
Reservations: 956-7655, etickethawaii.com.

“Tuesdays With Morrie”
at Manoa Valley Theatre

A drama based on the best-selling memoir by Mitch Albom and adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher and Albom, concerning the issue of ALS, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease, and the meaning of life.
Plot/cast:  Greg Howell plays  sociology Prof. Morrie Schwartz, the ALS victim, and Scott Robertson as sportswriter Mitch Albom, in a tale of bonding relationships.

Showtimes: Premieres at 7:30 p.m. March 18; repeats 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays, through April 5.
Tickets: $30 general, $25 seniors andmilitary, $15 patrons 25 and younger.
Reservations: 988-6131, www.manoavalleytheatre.com.

“Musubi Man,”
at Honolulu Theatre for Youth’s Tenney Theatre, St. Andrew’s Cathedral

Plot/cast: The adventures of musubi man, Emily Hare and Nathan Mark.
Showtimes: Premiere at 11:30 a.m. March 7; repeats at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. March 14 and 21.
Tickets: $10, opening performance; $8, other shows.
Reservations: 457-4254, www.htyweb.org.
“Gypsy,”
at Diamond Head Theatre

A revival of one of the classics of American musical theater, based on the memoirs of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
Plot/cast:  Shari Lynn plays Mama Rose, the stage mother who wants her daughter Louise/Gypsy (Candes Meijide-Gentry) to be a star, in the era of vaudeville; Dennis Proulx is Herbie. the score boasts such chestnuts as “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “Some People,” “Let Me Entertain You,” and “You Gotta Have a Gimmick” and “Rosie’s Turn.”
Showtimes: Premieres at 8 p.m. Mach 20; repeats at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays,  3 p.m. selected Saturdays, through April 5.
Tickets:   $12 to $42.
Reservations:  733-0274, www.diamondheadtheatre.com

“Defending the Caveman,”
at the Hawaii Theatre

A one-man comedy about the sexes,  for adult audiences, about the relationships of man with woman, with laughs aplenty. Written by  Rob Becker, starring Isaac Lamb.
Plot: The foibles of the sexes, from caveman perspective.
Showtimes: Premieres at 7:30 p.m. March 31; repeats at 7:30 p.m. April 1, 2; 8 p.m. April 3; 2 and 8 p.m. April 4, 2 and 7 p.m. April 5.
Tickets: $31 to $46.
Reservations: 528-0506, www.hawaiitheatre.com.

And a special: “Caveman,” Ringo Starr’s 1981 cult fave, will be a First Friday special this Friday, with prehistoric pricing — $1 admission — as a prelude to the forthcoming stage show. Screenings will be at 5 and 6:45 p.m.; Guy Cruz will perform two 50-minute sets at 8 and 9 p.m. in the theater’s piano bar.

More later, as the theatrical season progresses...

 

'Na Mele' goes site-seeing with House Without a Key

February 23rd, 2009
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PBS’ “Na Mele: Traditions in Hawaiian Song,” a longstanding series that has been showcasing musical treasures for seven years, moves into a new direction with the launch tonight of a salute to a cherished destination.
The focus traditionally has been on performers and music.
For the first time, the series — airing at 7:30 p.m. today on PBS — will pay tribute to a site, the Halekulani Hotel’s House Without a Key, where rhapsodic hula unfolds nightly. In another era, the House was the location of and title of the first Charlie Chan novel by Earl Derr Biggers, circa 1925, and the subject of two old Chan films.
“We want to document not only the treasures of traditional Hawaiian music but also an iconic, cherished local experience,” said Robert Pennybacker, PBS’ vice president of creative services and a veteran of TV specials that recall a time and place of Hawai‘i’s
revered past.
The House Without a Key is a lasting memory of a golden era of Waikiki’s storied past.
Hula stylists Kanoe Miller and Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, who alternate in the sunset shows, perform hapa-haole and Hawaiian classics recalling simpler times, with Pa ‘ahana (Pakala Fernandes on bass and vocals, Kaipo Kukahiko on guitar and vocals and Douglas Tolentino on ‘ukulele and vocals) now dispensing the melodies, against the backdrop of Diamond Head in the distance and lapping waves on the shoreline.
The Halekulani segment also will share the memories of classic hula soloist Beverly Noa, who danced at the now-gone Hau Tree Terrace a stone’s throw from the House Without a Key, where she and vocalists Ed Kenney and Marlene Sai  starred in the 1970s and ’80s.
“We are honored to be the first destination to host the PBS Hawaii series ‘Na Mele’ in HD,” said Gerald Glennon, general manager of Halekulani, of the high definition element of the production.
If  the PBS cameras will zoom in on other historic destination in the months to come, where  would you recommend?
My short list:
•    The Monarch Room of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, an early venue for big band dancing and jazz with a Hawaiian punch.
•    Waioli Tea Room in Manoa, which has links to author Robert Louis Stevenson.
•    The Banyan Court of the ---- Moana and Surfrider Hotel, where the “Hawai‘i Calls” radio show beamed the tunes and spirit of the Islands to a pre-statehood audience.
•    The ‘Ilikai Hotel, featured in the opening sequence of Jack Lord’s “Hawaii Five-O,” the first network series totally lensed in the Islands.
Alas, many worthy spots are long gone — Kau Kau Korner (now Hard Rock Café, which is moving to Waikiki Beach Walk); Duke Kahanamoku’s in the International Market, Place, where Don Ho got on the national radar as bona fide Island superstar;  Canlis Restaurant, a longtime dining favorite with lounge music, where the Nike store now on Kalakaua Avenue;  and Trader Vic’s, the fabled dining spot  and icon of what mainlanders call “tiki lounge” format with its South Seas décor complete with sea glass balls, where the Honolulu Club now sits.
Where else would you nominate?

Coconut wireless: wedding, TV slot, opera, boy choir

February 21st, 2009
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Coconut wireless: wedding, TV, opera, choir

Bits ‘n’ pieces:

•   A “Dog” wedding: Lyssa Chapman II, daughter of Duane “Dog" Chapman of A&E’s “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” tied the knot with Brahman “Bo” Galanti, a member of the posse, yesterday at Lanikuhonua at Ko Olina. About 200 family members and friends attended. The ceremony, and the preparations at the J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa, will be covered in an upcoming segment of the highly-rated “Dog” reality show.

•   Brother Noland will be on the Oscars: Sorta. The Mountain Apple Co. recording artist will have an Oscar moment when his classic Island fave, “Coconut Girl,” is part of a “Yearbook” look at the past year’s best comedy films during tomorrow’s Academy Awards telecast on ABC. “Coconut Girl” was featured in Sony’s “Pineapple Express” comedy soundtrack, released last August; we all know that the contagious ditty earned Noland the title of Father of Jawaiian Music here. “My musical life continues to be an evolving journey. This is one of the most exciting paths that ‘Coconut Girl’ has taken,” says Brother Noland, whose journey continues with the March 24 release of a new CD, “Hawaiian Man.” Yep, he da man.
•   Operatic notes: Hawaii Opera Theatre director Henry Akina, costumer Anne Namba and set designer Dean Shibuya (a former Islander, now a San Franciscan), will showcase sets and costumes for a Finland-produced “Madame Butterfly” opera opening July 3 at the Savonlinna Opera Festival. The preview brunch-fashion show, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 8 at the Halekulani Hotel ballroom, is an benefit for HOT, which closes its three-show season with “Carmen,” opening Feb. 27 at Blaisdell Concert  Hall. Tickets for the fashion benefit are $100. Information: Anna Meng, 782-4501.
•    A choir of angels: The Honolulu Boy Choir, the ensemble with angelic voices,  has a big spring concert at 7 p.m. May 20 at Central Union Church, meaning the choir has returned “home,” relocating its headquarters earlier this month back to Central Union after a brief move to Makiki Christian Church. “We are just thrilled to be (back) rehearsing every Monday and Wednesday in the Choir Room at Central Union Church,” says Blake Nuibe, boy choir honcho. The choir has ramped up its community appearances, too, like two back to back — a worship service at 10 a.m. tomorrow  at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, followed by a performance at 1 p.m. tomorrow at the tribute show, “Hooray! Haradahood,” for a retired columnist (moi) at the Waikiki Nei Showroom at Royal Hawaiian Center.

It's Oscar time — so who'll win?

February 19th, 2009
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Oscar season comes full circle with Sunday’s Academy Awards hoopla in Hollywood and on TV.
This means the guesstimation game is in full swing. There are a few shoo-ins this year but surprises emerge each season.
There will be winners beyond the customary awards — who’s wearing the gown to die for, who has the worst gown since singer Bjork appeared in that swan mess, which glamorpuss has which hunk on her arm, and will Down Under’s Hugh Jackson bring up Oscar ratings with his hosting and singing?
But I digress. Here’s my take on this year’s Academy Awards — without the 50-50, ask-the-audience, phone-a-friend and double-dip benefits of being in the hot seat on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”:

BEST PICTURE
Should win: “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Will win: “Slumdog  Millionaire.”
Why: The best word-of-mouth campaign going, the best feel-good reel experience amid the feel-bad real-ity of a down economy ... and who doesn’t  want to root for the underdog, anyway?
But: “The Curious  Case of Benjamin Button” was easily the most inventive movie with a fascinating plot and spectacular makeup and filming technique with its reverse-aging theme

BEST DIRECTOR
Should win: Danny Boyle, for “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Will win: Danny Boyle.
Why: Made a personal dream into a universal dream:  everybody loves a winner, particularly with such dark and devastating odds — the bleak background of the slums of Mumbai, coming after last year’s real-life downer, the terroristic bombing that took innocent lives in Mumbai. His earlier Directors Guild nod, a precursor of the Academy Awards, galvanizes his win.

BEST ACTOR
Should win: Sean Penn, portraying Harvey Milk in “Milk.”
Will win: Mickey Rourke, playing Randy “The Ram” Robinson in “The Wrestler.”
Why: Real-life backstage drama — a loser, trying to get in the ring of success — puts Rourke in the winner’s column. Think Robert DeNiro in “Raging Bull,” battered and bloodied, like real. Or not.
But: Frank Langella, portraying Nixon in “Frost/Nixon,” was right-on perfection.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Should win: Heath Ledger, as the Joker, in “Dark Night.”
Will win: Heath Ledger.
Why: His death last year may be a sentimental reason, but he owned the film whenever he was on camera; posthumous awards are part of the Oscar tradition.
But: If anyone can be a spoiler, it’s the unpredictable Robert Downey Jr., an ironman  of  a different color in “Tropic Thunder.”

BEST ACTRESS:
Should win: Meryl Streep, as Sister Aloysius in “Doubt.”
Will win: Streep in “Doubt.”
Why: Mamma mia, she is the doyenne of Hollywood cinema and this is her 15th nomination, her last Oscar awarded in 1982. Isn’t it time again?
But: Kate Winslet, as April Wheeler in “Revolutionary Road,” and as Hanna Schmitz  in “The Reader,” was a double winner in two Golden Globes categories earlier this year.  Both roles could ramp her up on the “Reader” radar.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

Should win: Penelope Cruz, as Maria Elena in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”
Will win: Viola Davis, as Mrs. Miller in “Doubt.”
Why: Without a doubt, her few minutes on screen were powerful and potent, making every tick of the minute count.
But: Marisa Tomei, as the stripper Cassidy in “The Wrestler,” could finally validate her questionable “My Cousin Vinny” supporting actress win in 1992.

QUESTIONS:

Has "Slumdog Millionaire" already peaked, in terms of popularity, giving another film a wedge of chance to snag the Best Picture award?

Which flick is your pick for Best Picture?

And the rest — director and actors and actresses?

Who — besides  Clint Eastwood in "Gran Torino"— was snubbed by the Oscars?

Share your thoughts...