Archive for July, 2009

Film review: Follow 'Chorus' auditions, step by step

July 31st, 2009

“Every Little Step,” opening today at the Kahala theaters, chronicles the saga of “A Chorus Line,” the Broadway backstage musical, from two fronts: the untold confessionals of the first auditioning cast in 1974 and the mounting of the 2006 revival of the show on Broadway.
Filmmakers James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo gained unorthodox access to get behind the scenes and under the skins of folks who strive for 17 roles in Michael Bennett’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning stage classic.
“Step” hits every aspect of show biz — the desire, the preparation, the devotion, the heartbreak, the tears, the sweat, the final production — with incredible fidelity from two vantage points: Bennett’s non-traditional midnight soiree, where auditioners shared tales and thoughts that would ultimately evolve into a script for the 1975 Broadway hit, and the tryouts for 2006 revival where 3,000 showed up and only several dozen tapped to go through the demanding final audition process.
This documentary puts you front-and-center, from the waits in the long lines to be seen and heard, to the grueling practice and workout to put heart and soul in front of a panel of judges, who will give a yea or a nay. Think “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance?” — but with far more clarity and depth —with the cameras rolling as youngsters prep and primp and agonize about the ultimate audition.
While this casting process is specifically about dancing and singing for a particular show, the implications reach far into other aspects of life: a spelling bee, a beauty pageant, a football game, a job quest, a bid in the Olympics. It’s about having a gift and a passion to strut and share, with little guarantees. Some will win, many will lose.
Along the way, the original Donna McKechnie shows up and reminisces about her role of the over-qualified Cassie; we learn that actress Marsha Mason suggested early on that Cassie should land the job (to ultimately perform the “Music and the Mirror” show-stopper) since the original script scrubbed her; Marvin Hamlisch, who wrote the original music, suggests “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three” as the fitting title to titillate the audience; we see Charlotte D’Amboise (who earned the Cassie part in the revival) and her dancer-father Jacques D’Amboise (a former New York City Ballet star) in one of the subtext tales of cast members; and Jason Tam, Hawai’i resident, will likely evoke tears with his absorbing and wrenching audition for the part of Paul San Marco.
Happily, there are no scowling Simon Cowells on the judging panel; instead, there’s a likeable and grandfatherly Bob Avian (the show’s original choreographer, who directed the musical revival) and an endearing beacon named Baayork Lee (who originated the Connie role) who shape and mold the auditioners with the kind of commitment required to learn the show’s intricate dance combinations to make the cut.
“Every Little Step” takes its title from the musical’s finale, “One” (“One singular sensation, every little step he takes”). If you loved the stage musical, you’ll appreciate the portrait of the artists with never-say-die creeds; there are high kicks and plenty of incredible demonstrations of passion. Ultimately, this is a document of the quest for acceptance, one exhausting step at a time.

‘Every Little Step’
Opening today, Kahala theaters
Running time: 95 minutes
PG-13 (for language, including sexual references)

Posted in Entertainment | Comments Off on Film review: Follow 'Chorus' auditions, step by step

Show breezes: Lots happening in weeks ahead

July 28th, 2009

Wow, the town’s abuzz with show biz bits...

Dining: Child’s movie menu at Chef Mavro
When “Julie and Julia” — an appetizing film about the unrelated accomplishments of a wannabe chef Julie Powell, who prepares and blogs about every one of the more than 500 recipes in Julia Child’s landmark “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” cookbook in English — opens Aug. 7, it’s very conceivable that we’re all going to drool about Child's celebrated beef bourguignone.
Well, in anticipation of the demand, Chef Mavro’s George Mavrothalassitis (along with his publicist wife Donna Jung), who hosted an invitational screening of the whimsical and wondrous film recently at Consolidated’s Ward theater, has created a special three-course “Julie and Julia Movie Menu” that will be available Fridays and Saturdays, starting Aug. 7, for after-movie fine-dining.
“After the screening so many people were craving boeuf bourguignone that something had to be done!,” said the chef in a statement. “I’ve felt a connection with Julia Child ever since I developed a love of home cooking for my wife when I come back from the restaurant every night. And everyone in my kitchen has so much fun cooking this style of food. When it’s delicious it’s delicious.”
Chef Mavro, the James Beard award-winning wizard, will be in his dining room to welcome guests and will, indeed, serve boeuf a la bourguignone tableside, in the customary French manner. Other French fare exhibited in the film will also be available.
The dinner will be $59 per person, with space limitations, and will include pre-appetizer, pre-dessert and the grand finale house-made sweets. Additionally Child’s famous “reverse martini” ($9) will be offered as well as a special Morgan grand cru du beaujolais wine selection ($13 glass).
Reservations: 944-4714, or e-mail
Bon appétit!

Stage: MVT’s ‘Bee’ e-x-t-e-n-d-s final three shows
Manoa Valley Theatre today announced the third and final extension of its hit musical, the Tony Award-winning “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”
Drawing near-capacity crowds, the show will be staged for the last times at 8 p.m. Aug. 7 and 8 and 4 p.m. Aug. 9. A limited number of seats are available for this weekend’s extended playdates as well.
The cast features Joel Libed as Chip Tolentino, Michael Reyes as William Barfee, Ivy Hays as Olive Ostrovsky, Stephanie Farnum as Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre, Kimo Kaona as Leaf Coneybear, Jennifer Oyama Harris as Marcy Park, Andrea Clark as Rona Lisa Peretti, Larry Bialock as Vice Principal Douglas Panch, and Jack Galliano as Mitch Mahoney.
Linda Johnson directs, Kenji Higashihama conducts.
With candor and comedy, “Spelling Bee” examines the challenges of youth experienced by the six spelling whizzes in a competition that also involves audience participation, in a setting resembling a high school gymnatorium. You can even buy a sack lunch for $5 from the Lunch Lady (actor Braddoc DeCaires), who might bring back memories of your cafeteria manager from yesteryear, complete with hair net.
Tickets: $35 general, $30 seniors and military; $20 patrons 25 and younger.
Reservations: 988-6131 or online at; tickets are also available at all military outlets.

Stage: DHT looking for ‘Drowsy Chaperone’ cast
“The Drowsy Chaperone,” a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, will launch the 2009-2010 Diamond Head Theatre season this fall, so DHT is holding cast auditions.
James Patterson will guest-direct and choreograph; he was in the national tour of “Chaperone” and “Cats” and also in the Broadway and touring companies of “Beauty and the Beast” and “State Fair.”
Auditions for principal and ensemble parts will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 14, and at 2 p.m. Aug. 15 and 16, at the DHT rehearsal hall. The musical will run from Sept. 25 through Oct. 11.
Those auditioning should be prepared to sing (bring Broadway-style sheet music in your own key); an accompanist will be provided; tapes, karaoke singing via CD or a cappella will not be allowed. Wear appropriate dance rehearsal clothes and shoes.
The plot involves a narrator-commentator in his New York apartment, and a show within a show, as full-on musical productions with toe-tapping songs, spill into the room, providing both tunes and persona that characterize a huge Broadway experience.
Actors should have some dancing and vocal skills, and some roles call for comedy and moves of a Latino lothario. One role — Mrs. Tottendale, a dizzy, dim but sweet comedienne — has Island implications, since it was originated on Broadway by former Hawaii actress Georgia Engel.
Perusal scripts are available at the Diamond Head Theatre box office, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays. Scripts must be read on-site. Cast characters and additional information are available on the theatre’s web site: .

Clubs: Music at Kani Ka Pila Grille
Kupaoa, Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning most promising artists, has three playdates at Kani Ka Pila Grille, at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach — tonight (July 28), Aug. 5 and Aug. 22. Showtimes are from 6 to 9 p.m.
Sean Na’auao makes his debut Aug. 1.
Manoa DNA returns from a Japan tour on Aug. 8.

Clubs: Duke’s sets August ‘Concerts on the Beach’
The beachfront Duke’s Waikiki at the Outrigger Waikiki, has announced its August schedule for the “Concert on the Beach” series, from 4 to 6 p.m. The lineup:
* Kona Band – Aug. 1
* Henry Kapono – Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30.
* Maunalua — Aug. 7, 14, 21 and 28.
* 10 Feet – Aug. 8.
* Kapena – Aug. 15 and 29.
* Kawao – Aug. 22.
Late night music is slated from 9:30 p.m. to midnight Saturdays, as follows:
* John Helm – Aug. 1, 15, and 29
* Akahi Duo – Aug. 8
* Kona Chang Duo – Aug. 22.

Festivals: Four-day family event at Magic Island
The four-day Honolulu Family Festival, with family-friendly entertainment, rides, food and games, opens Thursday (July 30) at Magic Island. Tens of thousands are expected to attend, in the last summer biggie before school reopens this Friday (July 31).
The event, initiated three years ago by Mayor Mufi Hannemann, the Honolulu 100 organization, the City and E.K. Fernandez Shows, opens at 5 p.m. Thursday. A special program, at 5:45 p.m. in the Entertainment Tent, will assemble Hawai’i’s favorite divas, Nina Kealiiwahamana, Marlene Sai, Karen Keawehawai'i, Misty Kelai, Iwalani Kamahele and fabled hula stylists Beverly Noa and Piilani Smith. They will be part of the Royal Hawaiian Band Legacy Concert.
Other entertainers, like Henry Kapono, Holunape and Frank DeLima, also take the stage during the four-day run. Visiting live acts also include The Amazing Agostino and Backyard Circus & Puppet Parade.
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday (July 30), 5 p.m. to midnight Friday (July 31), 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday (Aug. 1) and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 2).
Onsite parking is limited, but free parking is available at the Honolulu Municipal Building parking lot, with free shuttle service from Alapai Street bus station to Magic Island, from 3 to 11 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 1) and from 3 to 10 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 2).
Scrip for food and rides are available for purchase. Unlimited ride wristbands ($20 at, $25 at the festival), are good from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 5 to 10 pm. Sunday.
Proceeds will support the refurbishment of Ala Moana Beach Park.

Posted in Entertainment | Comments Off on Show breezes: Lots happening in weeks ahead

PBS talks story with Loretta Ables Sayre, Part One

July 28th, 2009

Broadway star Loretta Ables Sayre talks story, in a two-part “Long Story Short With Leslie Wilcox,” with Part One airing tonight (July 28) and continuing this week, on PBS Hawaii. Part Two follows next week.
It’s quite a revelation, with Ables Sayre sharing private elements of her life before “South Pacific,” where she is in her second year as Lincoln Center’s Bloody Mary, for which she earned a Tony Award nomination.
“The only thing I ever wanted to be was a singer ... the only thing I could ever do,” says Ables Sayre, as Wilcox chats with the jazz singer-turned-Broadway luminary. She used to emulate Dinah Washington, the jazz icon, searching the depths of her soul to find that emotion. The acting came way later.
Among other disclosures:
• Her mom, who was 15 when she married a 40-year-old Philippines laborer, had been in an abusive domestic situation, so the marriage was a passport to freedom. The age difference, however, led to a divorce.
• Her stepfather, who was seven years younger than her mom, helped maintain a normal family life.
• Her California roots, devoid of Island-style pidgin and barefoot schooling, made her entrée into Pearl Harbor Elementary a challenge; but she adapted, becoming local in every respect, at Aliumanu Intermediate and Radford High.
• At Radford, drama teacher Patrick Dickson encouraged her to pursue her dream to sing.
Ables Sayre says she has had no formal voice training, maintained a professionalism at her club singing gigs at such resorts as the Halekulani and the Kahala for fear that she could easily be replaced, and credits Andy Bumatai for his kokua in enabling her to sing and thus bask in the Waikiki limelight when he was working with Keola and Kapono Beamer at the Reef Hotel.
“The next morning Keola Beamer called,” offering her a job in the Beamer show. Then Bumatai tapped her to join him in his Royal Hawaiian Monarch Room show.
Thus, for Ables Sayre, the journey has been all about acceptance, credibility, and chasing dreams — with the dream still continuing.
Part Two will be about meeting her husband David Sayre and auditioning for the biggest challenge of her life, the Great White Way.


Featuring Loretta Ables Sayre
Part 1, life before “South Pacific,” at 7:30 p.m. July 28, 11 p.m. July 29, 4 p.m. Aug. 2
Part 2, meeting husband David Sayre and auditioning for Broadway, at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4, 11 p.m. Aug. 5, 4 p.m. Aug. 6
PBS Hawaii, Oceanic Cable 10

Where have all those icons gone? Ah, memories...

July 24th, 2009

“Where did all the fun places go?”
A friend tossed this question my way the other day.
He was reflecting on the Barefoot Bar, where Sterling Mossman and Varoa Tiki first found stardom, at the beloved Queen’s Surf Waikiki nightclub ... where Kui Lee once performed and where Elvis Presley even stopped by one night.
The site has been gone for decades, a victim of progress and change.
You have to be kama’aina (okina between the two a’s, kahako over a in aina) to remember — or have experienced — the fabric of long-gone places and performers.
Mention Hilo Hattie, and most folks now think of the struggling Hawaiian attire/souvenir emporium for Island-style gifts and aloha wear. I remember when the real Hilo Hattie (aka Clara Inter Nelson) did her classic "Hula Hop" ... and she also was the Princess Pupule —with plenty papaya — at the original Halekulani Hotel, where her beachfront stage encircled existing trees.
People, places — they come and go.
Herewith, reflections of the gone-but-not-totally forgotten — folks and sites that gave our city a distinctive personality:

Cock’s Roost
Canton Puka
Primo Garden
Polynesian Palace
Duke Kahanamoku’s
Le Boom Boom Club
Blue Dolphin
Waikiki Beef ‘n’ Grog
On Stage
Hot Rod Dinin’ & Dancin’
Maile Lounge
Da Swamp
Toppe ada Shop
Kalia Gardens
Tapa Room
Prow Lounge
Plantation Room
Garden Lanai
The Noodle Shop
Point After
Canoe House
Captain’s Table
The Clouds
Hala Terrace
The Glades
Garden Bar
Imperial Showroom
Hula Hut
Hilton Hawaiian Village Dome
Cupid’s Lounge
Pink Cadillac
Honolulu Comedy Club
Shell Bar
Oasis Nightclub
Wave Waikiki
Malia’s Cantina
Reef Showroom
The Library
Mahina Lounge
Plumeria Café
The Row Bar
Hong Kong Junk
Hana Hou Showroom
World Café
Hoku Hale Theatre
Aloha Showroom
The Dunes
Gussie L’Amour
Ship’s Tavern
Rainbow Villa
Territorial Tavern
Honolulu Comedy Club
Club Hubba Hubba
Forbidden City
In Between Lounge


The Black Orchid
Don the Beachcomber’s
The Ranch House
Hanohano Room
The Pottery
Tahitian Lanai
Royal Spaghetti House
Ship’s Tavern
A Pacific Café
The Third Floor
Golden Dragon
Green Turtle
Rose City Diner
New Tokyo
Waikiki Sands
Maile Restaurant
Top of the Ilikai
Third Floor
Queen’s Surf
Trader Vic’s
La Ronde
Padovani’s Bistro
Sunset Grill
La Mancha
Parc Café
Maile Restaurant
Surf Room
Onjin’s Café
Ray’s Seafood
The Tropics
KC Drive In
Flamingo Chuckwagon
Columbia Inn
Golden Dragon
Mezzanine Restaurant
Brew Moon
Waikiki Broiler
Yacht Harbor Restaurant
Yum Yum Tree


Alfred Apaka
Ed Kenney
Al Lopaka
Hilo Hattie
Haunani Kahalewai
Kimo McVay
The Reycards
John Rowles
Martin Denny
Moe Keale
Dick Jensen
Arthur Lyman
George Street
Emma Veary
Freddie Morris
Hot Dog Annie
Tommy Sands
The Aliis
Linda Green
The Fabulous Krush
Burgundy Express
Topp Banana
Ethel Azama
Butch Williams
Alexander and Peggy Oumansky
Rene and Akemi Paulo
Guido Salmaggi
Sterling Mossman
Jerlene Rome
Jonathan Von Brana
Napua Stevens
Eddie Kekaula
Donna Butterworth
Howard Morrison
Malia Solomon
Mike Woodward
Mai Tai Sing
Teddy and Nanci Tanaka
Anna Lea
Kit Samson’s Sound Advice
Connie Kissinger
Del Courtney
Frankie Stevens
Myrtle K. Hilo
Al Harrington
Scott Kincaide
Sterling Mossman
Johnny Todd
Liz Damon & the Orient Express
Prince Hanalei
Blue Kangaroo
Loyal Garner
Glass Candle
Myra English
Inny Young
Charles K.L. Davis
Bu La’ia
Jules Ah See
Varoa Tiki
The Dimensions
Warren Marley
Phase Seven

Got any other hangouts and folks to add to the list? E-mail your suggestions.

Briefly, more show biz shorts...

July 21st, 2009

Here are more entertainment briefs:

Stage: In Manoa, ‘Bee’ e-x-t-e-n-d-s again
Manoa Valley Theatre has extended its hit musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” again — with new performances at 8 p.m. July 31 and Aug. 1 and 4 p.m. Aug. 2.
Some seats remain for the earlier-announced shows, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays.
The cast features Joel Libed as Chip Tolentino, Michael Reyes as William Barfee, Ivy Hays as Olive Ostrovsky, Stephanie Farnum as Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre, Kimo Kaona as Leaf Coneybear, Jennifer Oyama Harris as Marcy Park, Andrea Clark as Rona Lisa Peretti, Larry Bialock as Vice Principal Douglas Panch, and Jack Galliano as Mitch Mahoney.
Linda Johnson is guest director, with Kenji Higashihama conducting the orchestra.
Tickets: $35 general, $30 seniors and military; $20 patrons under 25.
Reservations: 988-6131.

Clubs: Led Zepplica tribute band at Pipeline
Led Zepplica performs at 8 pm. Aug. 22 at the Pipeline Café. Doors open at 7 p.m.; Big Dawg is special guest.
Led Zepplica plays music of Led Zeppelin and features Joe Retta as singer Robert Plant is Joe Retta, with Lenny Mann as guitarist Jimmy Page.
Tickets:$20 general, $50 VIP.
Reservations:, Pipeline Cafe box office,
Hawaii's Natural High.

Music: Ka Himeni Ana Sept. 5 at Hawai’i Theatre
Ka Himeni Ana, the search for unamplified group performances in the old Hawaiian style, will hold its 25th annual contest at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 5 at the Hawai’i Theatre.
The Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame is presenting the evening. Pre-show music begins at 7 p.m. for early arrivals.
Singer Marlene Sai will emcee; judges are Haunani Apoliona, Nina Kealiiwahamana and Bill Kaiwa. Keauhou, last year’s winner, will open the contest.
Ka Himeni Ana winners traditionally have moved on to become certified recording and performance favorites in the Islands. They include Holunape, Pilioha, Ku’uipo Kumukahi, Kanilau, ‘Ale’a and Manoa Voices.
Monetary awards range from $200 to $1,200, and the winner earns a Hula Records contract.
Tickets: $6 to $30, on sale beginning Aug. 1, at the Hawai’i Theatre box office. Call 528-0506 or go to

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Briefly, more show biz shorts...

Recent Posts

Recent Comments