Archive for March, 2009

Mayor Mufi goes pops — that's what friends are for

March 18th, 2009

 If you're taking in the Honolulu Symphony Toyota Pops concerts, featuring the incomparable jazz stylist Diana Krall, Thursday night at Blasidell Concert Hall, expect  some unannounced pals of pops maestro Matt Catingub to take the stage. To croon.

Like Mayor Mufi Hannemann, my friend and perhaps yours, who will render the Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong signature, "What a Wonderful World," moments before Krall takes the stage. The concert repeats at 8 p.m. Friday, but Hizzonner takes the mike on opening night. Other unannounced Catingub pals are expected to help Catingub mark his 10th anniversary as symphony pops honcho.

The legit guest stars, already announced for both nights, are Amy Hanaiali'i, Jimmy Borges and Henry Kapono, who get paid to sing and are great at it.  Mayor Mufi does his warbling as a gesture of goodwill, simply because he enjoys it. And he's nearly everybody's pal  — and that's what friends are for, to kokua and support, in celebratory times.

So what do you think of Mufi's singing? Keep his day job? A future when he's out of public service? Restrict to the shower?



See a show, help a cause -- a win-win situation

March 18th, 2009

A flurry of theatrial endeavors with charity-related links await stage fans in the weeks and months ahead.
Thus, you have a chance to see a stage show while contributing to related fund-raising endeavors —  a win-win situation for spectator and presenter.
* “Into the Woods,” playing now through March 28 at the the Performing Arts Center of Kapolei. This is Stephen Sondheim’s take on classic Brothers Grimm fairytale characters meeting in the woods, with unexpected twists. In conjunction with the musical, which features a cast of 35, there’s a sidebar project to promote literary. More than 30 books, autographed by celebrities, will be auctioned off during the run of the show. Contributers include “Lost” actor and The Counter co-owner Daniel Dae Kim, music star Jack Johnson (who donated books from his own North Shore home library), local girl and “South Pacific” Tony nominee Loretta Ables Sayre, Broadway actor Richard Vida and conductor Bob Billig, the Broadway cast of “Wicked,” actress Kelly Hu, flutist Kenny G, “Criminal Minds” co-star Thomas Gibson, footballer Payton Manning, TV host Carson Daly, singer Michael Bolton, entertainer and restaurateur Jimmy Buffett and actor-comedian George Lopez. Details:

Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. March 20, 21, 27, 28; 6 p.m. March 26.
Tickets: $6 adults, free for keiki 2 and under; March 26 is a fundraiser, $25 includes pasta dinner at Auntie Pasto’s in Kapolei, followed by show.
Reservations: 258-7313.

* “Mamma Mia!,” the  still-on-Broadway and touring ABBA musical, makes its Hawaii debut May 12 through 24 at Blaisdell Concert Hall. This is the show about a daughter’s marriage on an idyllic Greek island and complications she creates when she invites three of her prospective fathers to attend without her mother’s knowledge, all set against the hit songs by ABBA. The  gala opening night will benefit the Women’s Cancer Center at Kapiolani Medical Center, with a meet-and-greet the cast session, plus kaukau at Romano’s Macaroni Grill at Ala Moana Center.
Showtimes:  7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and  7 p.m. Sundays, through May 24.
  $75, $65 and $40 for weekdays and Sunday evenings; $85, $75 and $50 for Friday and Saturday performances and Sunday matinees.
Reservations: 745-3000, Ticketmaster locations, including Macy’s and Times Supermarket locations,; opening night gala, $100 admission includes VIP seating plus invitation to a cast party after the show, at Romano’s Macaroni Grill; 732-7733; checks, payable to Kapiolani Medical Center with Women’s Cancer Center in the subject line, may be sent to “Mamma Mia!,” 3860 Sierra Drive, Honolulu, HI 96816.

A fundraiser honoring veteran award-winning Island actress Jo Pruden set for April 12 aboard the MS Zaandam Cruise Ship, which will be docked at Aloha Tower.
The event is a benefit for the Dorothy J. Esser Theatre Foundation, which supports Army Community Theatre at Richardson Theatre, at Fort Shafter.
Singer-actress Shari Lynn, starring in Diamond Head Theatre’s current “Gypsy,” will perform, accompanied by Peter Rucci.
Pruden is a ubiquitous performer on numerous stages, including ACT and Manoa Valley Theatre, who has racked up a stable of acting laurels. She also has  been the longtime box office manager at ACT and a narrator at the Army’s Fourth of July spectable at Schofield Barracks for more than a decade.
The event includes an 11:30 a.m. brunch and the 12:45 p.m. show, and atour of the ship. Debarking will be at 3 p.m.
Tickets: $100 ($75.80 is tax deductible).
Reservations: Send checks payable to the Dorothy J. Esser Theatre Foundation and may be mailed to 908 Maunawili Road, Kailua, HI 96734 by April 2.
* "Tuesdays With Morrie," which Manoa Valley Theatre premieres at 7:30 p.m. today (March 18).  This is 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.
A performance at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (March 19) will benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s amyotrphic laeral sclerosis division, with a “Thursday With Peggy” theme, in remembrance of artists Peggy  Chun, an ALS victim. A pre-show dinner is available; a post-show discussion follows the play, at about 8:45 p.m., with members of Chun’s support ohana ad ALS patient Vi Jones-Medusky, among oters.
The play feaures  Greg Howell plays  sociology Prof. Morrie Schwartz, an ALS victim, and Scott Robertson as sportswriter Mitch Albom, in a tale of relationships.

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 and military, $15 patrons 25 and younger.
Reservations: 988-6131,

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Notes from Japan with an Island perspective

March 9th, 2009

TSUKUBA, Japan — Notes from Japan, with Island links:
Japanese  TV offers some strange surprises.
On an NKH children’s show, Konishiki, the retired sumotori who also is a singer and recording artist, frolics with keiki in what essentially is a music video of sorts. He dons a bright orange costume, with bright yellow polka dots shaped like huge Hershey kisses, and he seems to enjoying this phase of his life. And the kodomo love him, too. His weight loss shows dramatically...
On a newscast, a merchant shows off a Japanese kite ... with Barack Obama pictured (drawn). Guess it means he’s soaring in his presidency, taking flight like a kite, trying to fix the economy...
Then while channel-surfing for some English programming (most cable and basic TV are in Japanese, of course), who should I encounter on CNBC but my friend Anthony Ruivivar, in vintage episode of  “Third Watch.”
So far, no Steve McGarrett or Thomas Magnum in dubbed Japanese lingo.
Hawai‘i lives in shops, too.
Shopping also offers some Hawai’i insights.
Saw a merchant (though it was closed) in Kyoto with the name Kahala. Don’t read Japanese kanji, so couldn’t determine what it sold.
And at the largest mall in Tsukuba, one vendor had Hawaiiana galore, from yarn lei to Island print fabric, from T-shirts to Island CDs, from local knick-knacks to clothing. The video displayed on a TV featured a Japanese group performing slack key and singing Hawaiian...and another segment featured Kawai Hewett.
Go figure. It is a small, shrinking world, isn’t it?

Grand dame with a past: Royal Hawaiian's Monarch Room

March 6th, 2009

I’ll always cherish and relish the Monarch Room of  the Royal Hawaiian hotel, the fabled Pink Palace on the stretch of golden sand in Waikiki, simply because it was and is the apex of show biz addresses.
If you worked there, you were on an elite list. If you saw a show there, you were in the most highly regarded showcase in Waikiki.
The Royal Hawaiian, which had been closed much of last year for $85 million in renovations-resotoration,  has its gala reopening to-do tomorrow.
The Monarch Room now functions as a special event jewel in the Pink Palace, since there no longer is a resident act. Shameful, but memories linger.
For me, this is the grand dame with a past — a wonderful history — that is unsurpassable. If you haven’t yet been to the Monarch Room, what are you waiting for?
In its heyday, the Monarch Room was the place to high-tail to. Before my time, the elegant and the hoity-toity used to frolic and celebrate to the wondrous hapa-haole sounds of Harry Owens and his orchestra. Bill Tapia,101 and full of spunk, played at the hotel's opening, gave  a concert in the Monarch Room last May, and returns in the weekend launch special events, though trumpeter Chris Botti is the Monarch Room headliner this weekend.
You were literally in the pink if you counted the Royal among your stomping grounds.
In its territorial era, the hotel was a visitor mecca. I mean, it was in the heart of Waikiki; you had to be able to afford the place.
My experience of frequenting the Monarch Room, the only genuine supperclub setting remaining in Waikiki, was in the late 1960s and early ’70s, when locals started showing up in their finest aloha shirts and muumuus, post-statehood.
Reason: a retinue of acts, with appeal to both residents and visitors, were booked in the room. Heck, the hotel even had an entertainment director, who was charged with putting names on the marquee so butts would fill the seats.
I met,saw and reviewed a cherubic Wayne Newton at the Monarch Room in those glory days; he was a chubby, genial sort with red hair then, belting out his No.1 hit, “Dance Schoen.”
Locals lucky enough to earn the spotlight  in the past 30 yeas: Emma Veary, Ol’ Golden Throat known for her “E Maliu Mai” and “Kamehameha Waltz” smasheroos;  Ed Kenney, a golden baritone, coupled with Marlene Sai, the contralto-voiced hit-maker of “Waikiki,” and hula soloist Beverly Noa whose “Lovely Hula Hands” was, indeed, lovely; Manu Bentley, one-time hula soloist and headliner; John Rowles, the New Zealand popster of “Cheryl Moana Marie” fame; Rhonda, another New Zealand star with a Polynesian and operatic repertoire; Andy Bumatai, the stand-up comic, whose opening act was Loretta Ables (now Loretta Ables Sayre  and now starring on Broadway); even a Jack Cione-produced spectacle with feathers and sequins; and, of course, The Brothers Cazimero, the duo comprised of Robert and Roland Cazimero and hula dancer Leina’ala Kalama Heine.
The place was unique for its times: tables of 10 for large parties, smaller tables for couples or foursomes, with an aura of formality: white table cloths, fancy china and silverware, sleek menus boasting images of Matson liner days and old-time Hawaiiana.
Among my flashbacks:
•    This was the supperclub that introduced me to turtle soup, in an era when it was possible to serve turtle soup.
•    The stage had a velvet red curtain, suggesting regality.
•    There always was a gallery of  “scholarship section” gawkers, watching the show from the beach. Headliners often waved aloha from the stage.
•    Christmas time meant an annual yuletide special with The Honolulu Boy Choir and their “Numbah One Day of Christmas,” complete with hula jig.
•    There was always an oversized floral display just outside the Monarch Room entrance — the perfect spot for a photo op.
•     Valet parking always felt special ’neath the port cochere. That spot of the Pink Palace always felt like a Hollywood set.


A benefit for the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific

6 p.m. to midnight tomorrow (March7)

The Royal Hawaiian hotel

Cost: $350 for an individual ticket; $5,000 Royal Beach Club Cabana, party of four; $10,000 Monarch Room, table of 10; $50,000 private party in the King Kamehameha Suite for 50 guests

Reservations: Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific, 566-3451.

From the Land of the Rising Runs...

March 4th, 2009

KYOTO  — When you travel and suddenly get sick, there's no place like home.

I know; I'm visiting Kyoto, the city of temples, and had slight sniffles because of the chill. Don't know the exact temp, but must've been in the high 30s or mid-40s, since there were snow flurries the other day, followed by rain.

But a cold never materialized; instead, I got the a stomach virus, accompanied by nausea ,and you know what that means. Yep, here I am in the Land of the Rising Sun, which quickly became the Land of the Rising Runs.

I'll spare you the details, but when you're feeling crummy, you drink soup, right? But on foreign turf, it's not easy to locate chicken soup. So I opted for ramen. Not helpful. And chicken kuraage was a bad idea — though in good health, I love it.

While the warm ramen  broth was comforting, there were aromas and hints of shrimp ... that didn't resolve the issue. Green tea provided temporary relief.

I passed by a small temple on a shopping trek, paused, tossed a coin in, and shook a gargantuan rope that made a bell chime...praying for better health. After all, adventures in Tokyo still await before my return home.

Now I have some dried miso soup in the hotel room,  which will be my dinner tonight when doused with hot water, for another stab at solace.

When you're ill, you simply don't want to overdo. Any advice for someone far from home, with tummy troubles?

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