Archive for September, 2009

Wishful thinking: Shows and stars we'd like to see here

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September 11th, 2009



Maybe it’s the dour economy. Maybe it’s the drought on the local marquees.
I’ve been thinking, we all need a boost of good times and confidence-building.
And what better way than to splurge (everyone finds the moolah, when there’s a gotta-go-see-it attraction) and feel energized with a hot ticket?
If I had three wishes — you know, to hope as heck that somebody or a particular show would come here — here’s what I’m hungering for ...

Broadway shows:

1. “Jersey Boys,” that musical bio of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Besides a superb book, the show has memorable, cross-generational hit music, with a “concert” written in as a finale. “Oh, What a Night” this would be.
2. “Wicked,” the prequel to “The Wizard of Oz,” and a blockbuster on national tours, with much to ogle and admire, and recognize elements and themes that flesh out future characters and quirks in the most beloved film of all time.
3. “Spamalot,” the Monty Python bonbon of medieval merriment, feels local when coconuts emerge in the funfest. You don’t have to be cult fanatic to enjoy the nonsense, nor does the show needs the over-the-top original actors to score with audiences.

Super troupers:

1. Bette Midler, who hates performing in her hometown and only has done this once, isn’t likely to come here when she’s not struttin’ on the Caesars Palace stage. But she could fill the stadium, along with her Harlettes, with her boogie woogie divine-ness.
2. Bruce Springsteen, the czar of American rock, has been touring with his E Street Band criss-crossing across the U.S. with his “Working on a Dream” tour. Wouldn’t a tour-ending gig be a dream for him — and us?
3. Elton John and Billy Joel, who have been playing “Face 2 Face” darn near everywhere else, ought to detour and come here, too. The Rocket Man and the Piano Man would propel sales in this slumping economy.

Nostalgia acts:

1. Neil Diamond, who has been a gem most of his career, has a catalogue of hits frequently reinvented by current performers. Who can resist lip-synching through “Sweet Caroline,” “Song Sung Blue” and “Red, Red Wine?” Have seen him twice: once here, once at the Greek Theatre. And yes, this Diamond is forever.
2. The Eagles, who aren’t on a current tour, would still pack a venue with the group’s warehouse of hit music. “Hotel California” is 30 years old, but retains a spot on radio playlists.
3. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young,
or a variation thereof, are reminders of the Woodstock gen. But amid “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” “Marrakesh Express,” and “Wooden Ships,” there are such landmarks like “Teach Your Children” to reintroduce to the young ‘uns.

Here and now:

1. Madonna has been an icon to several generations of fans; she’s due for an Isle sprint, wouldn’t you agree?
2. Jason Mraz was here last year but his “I’m Yours” had not peaked at that time; it’s been on the Billboard charts for 73 weeks now, with the longest chart life. So wouldn’t you want to sing the scat with him — again?
3. Black Eyed Peas, who just performed here amid a massive Kane’ohe traffic jam, should return — maybe next year — to win back confidence and perform in a city gig that would help erase the sour taste. Wouldn’t you make another attempt to see Fergie and compand? And give Peas a chance?

The Untouchables:

1. Tina Turner, the incomparable queen of pop, soul and blues, who has "retired." But hey, this retiree can still churn out a sultry "Proud Mary," shimmy included.
2. Paul McCartney, the prolific and productive Beatles and the Wings main man, who has never performed in the Islands. Better late than never?
3. Barbra Streisand, the consummate chanteuse, is not for everyone, but people who know show biz people know that this "People" hit-maker is a classy act on stage.

‘Tweens and teens:

1 . Miley Cyrus, the one-girl Disney TV, film and recording franchise, will get everyone lip-synching to "The Climb," her most tuneful inspirational ditty for kids that even moms and dads adore.

2. The Jonas Brothers, who have their own Disney sitcom, are far better on stage — and continue to be a work in progress worth watching.

3. Demi Lovato, who stars on "Sonny With a Chance" and appeared in "Camp Rock," has had two chartbusters; a good bill if paired with the
Jonas bros.

Country folk:
1. Dolly Parton, the one-time Island singer, is more than a "Backwoods Barbie;" she's a country music icon and the force behind Dollywood.
2. Taylor Swift, the country-pop next-gen superstar ("Teardrops on My Guitar," "Love Story"), does it all: sing, compose, act.
3. (Tie) Kenny Chesney or Keith Urban, who are mainstream faves, each with a following, a catalogue of hits and a stable of awards.

What shows or which singers or groups would you post on your list? Share ‘em here...

Theme events: ‘Twist & Shout,’ ‘Happy Days’

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September 10th, 2009



Here are two fun events — with nostalgia on the radar — dubbed “Twist & Shout” and “Happy Days.” Coincidentally, both are at the Sheraton Waikiki hotel.
So what are ya waiting for?

Clubs: It’s time to ‘Twist & Shout’
Shake it up baby, it’s “Twist & Shout” time, from 7:30 to 10 p.m. today through Sunday (Sept. 10 through 13) at the Sheraton Waikiki hotel’s Twist at Hanohano.
The penthouse venue, with vistas of the Waikiki coastline, will combine chic entertainment with a dine-dance-and-drink menu to tout the renovated space atop the hotel.
Hot Club of Hulaville, known for its hybrid gypsy jazz, performs tonight, Saturday and Sunday.
Full 4ce, an orchestral group, plays Friday.
The format in the future will include dueling pianos and other special entertainment acts.
Twist at Hanohano’s Executive Chef Ryan Loo has created a complete set-course dinner menu in the main dining room and patrons of Flights at Twist – the new wine bar at Twist at Hanohano – can take in the entertainment with a $25 minimum per person.
Information: 921-4600.

Benefit: ‘Happy Days’ are here again
The Child & Family Service will hold a fun-raiser themed "Happy Days" from 5:30 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 12) at the Sheraton Waikiki hotel ballroom.
Comedian Andy Bumatai and KITV4 anchor Paula Akana will emcee and singer-actress Tia Carrere will be among the judges for a “legends in their own minds” dance battle. Get your dance moves going and give it a try.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for no-host cocktails, with dinner service at 6:30 p.m.
Information: 741-3245.

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Mixed bag: Jazz, ‘Big Losers,’ gala, punk, acting

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September 7th, 2009



Looking for things to do? Consider this mixed bag:

Jazz: Fest at La Pietra remembers Johnny Mercer

The 10th Annual Sunset Jazz benefit concert, from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 13) at the Great Lawn at La Pietra Hawaii School for Girls, this year pays tribute to composer Johnny Mercer, in what would be his centennial year.
Shari Lynn, a singer-actress who also teaches at Hawaii School for Girls, will be a featured performer, joined by Jimmy Borges, with special guests Rocky Brown, singer, and Be Bop Tribal’s trumpeter De Shannon Higa.
The core musicians will be Fascinatin’ Rhythm, with Ray Kaneyama, Steve Jones, Noel Okimoto. Jazz legend Gabe Baltazar, the saxophonist, also will perform.
In addition, the Hawaii Pacific University Jazz Ensemble, a 15-member ensemble directed by Pat Hennessy, will join the program.
The series previously has featured a lineup of stellar acts, including Martin Denny, Art Todd, Bill Tapia, the Saloon Pilots, the Savoy Sisters, Wade Cambern, Azure McCall, Kimberlei Bradford, Ginai, Sonya Mendes and Pauline Wilson.
Tickets are $50 and include dessert, a beverage (wine, soft drink or coffee). Picnic baskets may be brought for sunset dining.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Reservations: 922-2744.

TV: ‘Biggest Loser’ mom, daughter due here

Kristin and Cathy, the mother-daughter team from Season 7 of “The Biggest Loser,” will share their story of life on the Biggest Loser Ranch in a three-part series Sept. 24 through 27 on O’ahu.
Kristin and Cathy lost 262 lbs. between them on the reality series. The events will include chats on their shared lessons as well as fitness-related activities, as follows:
• Sept. 24, 7 p.m. — “Biggest Life Experience” talk story session, at the Campus Center Ballroom, University of Hawai’i-Manoa, $15.
• Sept. 26, 9 a.m. — “Hike to the Top,” a hike to Manoa Falls, $25. Meet near Lyon Arboretum in Manoa Valley.
• Sept. 27, 9 a.m. — “Work It Out,” a “Biggest Loser” boot camp with Kristin and Cathy, at Crossfit O’ahu Gym 556 Reed Lane, $45.
Details and registration: http://www.kristin

Gala: Sacred Hearts scholarship event is Sept. 23

Sacred Hearts Academy’s annual Scholarship Fund Gala, set for Sept. 23 at the Sheraton Waikiki hotel, willfeature a roster of popular Island entertainers.
The lineup, assembled by SHA alumna and vocal coach Neva Rego, includes Marlene Sai, Kawika McGuire, Anita Hall, Jordan Segundo, Les Ceballos and Ciana Pelekai — Ciana is the “America’s Got Talent” kiddie sensation.
SHA alumnae will be honored. They include: Sr. Agnelle Ching, ’58, CEO of St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawai’i; Elizabeth Chong, ’58, a teacher at the Norwalk-La Mirada Adult School in California; Ann Marie Kirk, ’81, a filmmaker and owner of Blue Crater Media; and an organization, the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts, which has roots dating back to May 4, 1859, when 10 Catholic sisters arrived in the Islands; the sisters now serve Sacred Hearts Academy, St. Anthony Retreat Center and St. Patrick and St. Ann Schools.
Tickets are $125, available by calling SHA at 734-5058, ext. 229.

Punk: Voodoo Glow Skulls heading to Hawaii

Voodoo Glow skulls, a leading exponent California ska punk for two decades, will make three appearances in the Islands this month:
• Sept. 18, at Rockstarz, in Kailua-Kona, on the Big Island.
• Sept. 19, at Ocean’s, in Kihei, Maui.
• Sept. 20, at Anna Bannana’s, in Honolulu.
The group’s “California Street Music,” released in 2007, continues the blend of ska and California punk.
Old Habits Die Hard, a Big Island band, is also featured.
Information: 888-985-PUNK ext. 12.

Drama program: HTY’s ‘Imagine’ seeks students

The Honolulu Theatre for Youth now is accepting students in grades kindergarten through 6 for participation in its fall “Imagine” drama program, set for eight consecutive Saturday afternoons, from Sept. 26 through Nov. 14.
The sessions will be at Pearl City District Park and at Kailua District Park.
Class times depend on age, as follows; K-grade 1, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.; grades 2 and 3, from 2:40 and 3:40 p.m.; and grades 4 through 6, from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m.
“Rainforest Romp” is the theme for K-3 sessions, with participants envisioning romps on vines in the tropics, and “Get Into the Act” is the motif for grades 4 through 6, inviting kids to be creative with wild characaters and whimsical tales.
Tuition: $125 ($100 if siblings register together).
Details: Courtney Biggs at 839-9885.
A registration form, due by Sept. 18, can be downloaded at www.htyweb.org.

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Island Sounds: Sean, Tia and Daniel, slack-keyers, Makana

By
September 4th, 2009



Note: Island Sounds is published in TGIF the first Friday of each month.

SEAN NA’AUAO
‘HOT HITS’

Mountain Apple Co.
Island contemporary

Sean Na’auao is one of the admired, successful performers who snagged radio airplay and sales then — and now. He can be Hawaiian, Jawaiian, and — for a while, anyway — he was a member of The Mana’o (okina between a and o) Company. His music is like beef stew: ono and stays with you a long time.
Overview: After seven earlier albums, this “hits” compilation is either for those who want to collect ‘em all, or those who have yet to discover Na’auao, and want a sample. The feast, of course, is led by “Fish and Poi,” with such toe-tapping appetizers as “Drop Baby Drop” and “Li Hing Hula,” and the main-course staple, “He Lei Makana.” Robi Kahakalau pops in dessert on the R&B “Where is the Love” (from their S&R duet outing).

3 stars

VARIOUS ARTISTS
‘MASTERS OF HAWAIIAN
SLACK KEY GUITAR, VOL. 2’

Daniel Ho Creations
Ki ho’alu with vocals

Slack key compilations are a simple way to party hearty; 11 tracks, most with vocals, have been culled for a second volume to an award-winning series recorded live on Maui, where these artists regularly gather at the Napili Kai Beach resort.
Overview: Everything considered, slack key is hypnotic and contagious, particularly when embraced by the likes of Dennis Kamakahi, George Kahumoku Jr., Richard Ho’opi’i, Keoki Kahumoku, Kawika Kahiapo, Sonny Lim, Daniel Ho, Owana Salazar (representing women) and others. Kahumoku Jr.’s “Ho’okupu” has pig snorting sounds as a bonus in his tale of the pig god battling Madame Pele. Bobby Ingano shows up on steel for a sleek "Sleepwalk." Brief but savvy liner notations explain each cut.

4 stars

TIA CARRERE
AND DANIEL HO
‘HE NANI’

Daniel Ho Creations
Hawaiian

Tia Carrere and Daniel Ho are Hawaiian Grammy winners from earlier this year; they continue to build thier professional relationship with creative input from composer-ethnomusicologist Amy Ku’uleialoha Stillman, whose collaborates with Ho on most cuts.
Overview: This one’s a real curiosity: The highlight is “‘Aina Pumehana,” part of a Stillman-Ho trilogy to Ho and his bride Lydia, a calming, comforting love song, written and sung in Hawaiian (with English translations in the liner sleeve), caressed with the joys of nature. The concept of slack key or piano accompaniment brings unblemished and simple undertones to Carrere’s straightforward vocals. Clearly, the influences of trades, sprinkles and trees yield a spartan “green” and tranquil stamp. Carrere’s chant, “Wakea,” is risky stuff.

3 stars

MAKANA
‘VENUS AND THE SKY
TURNS TO CLAY’

Makana Music
Guitar instrumentals

Makana has been a boy wonder on ki ho’alu since his Ki ho’alu Kid days, So his progression as adult master of slack key is an expectation. He’s a magician of moods, and he's subtle and sensational here — if you move beyond the CD title.
Overview: This all-instrumental venture of originals from his pen is an excursion into Makana’s soul, a mirror of his life, a reflection of his future. There are wondrous Island-named titles, but these are mere labels that don’t truly define what’s in his spirit. “Waimanalo Slack Key” is evocative of a Windward jam with backyard casuality; “Dance of the Red Poppies” is almost sitar-like in texture and tone; “As the World Tunes” is a show-off piece with splendid chords and finger dexterity that’s awesome and unpredictable; “Deep in an Ancient Hawaiian Forest” is quiet, solemn, solitary; “Flood” evokes word pictures of ripples and tides. It all plays like a one-on-one recital, like ethereal etudes.

4 stars

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'Ha' brings storytelling to Polynesian Cultural Center

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September 4th, 2009



“Ha,” Hawaiian for breath or life, is the title of a grand new $3 million production of epic proportions at the Polynesian Cultural Center, the La’ie-based visitor complex.
It’s an amazing theatrical accomplishment — a tidal wave of authentic pageantry teeming and throbbing with the syncopation and synergy of South Seas culture — with equal parts drama and history. The authentic and vibrant songs and dances, in costumed splendor reflecting the rainbow of hues and sentiments that make up Polynesia, unfolds in an amphitheater arena that also hosts a retinue of fire knife dancers, a group of daredevils who walk in fire, live musicians, waterfalls and even an erupting man-made volcano.
It’s been 14 years since the night-time attraction, launched last month, has been updated in the 2,675-seat theater.
Previous shows had water in a moat that separated the performers and stage from the audience; now the space is covered with sand, making the cast occasionally on the same playing field as the spectators, since the aisles double as entrances and exits for the mobile company of 100, largely comprised of students from the nearby Brigham Young University on the North Shore.
Wow factors abound.
What separates “Ha” (its English subtitle is “The Breath of Life”) apart from past voyages is the new storytelling convention, with a fictional but universal tale of values and heritage and tradition, involving the birth of a boy linked by trans-Pacific voyages to the various cultures: Tonga, Hawai’i, Aoterora (Maori New Zealand), Samoa, Tahiti and Fiji.
It is a spectacle in every respect, briefly told in an animated prelude initially flashed on a hanging screen in the center of the performance space, then from side screens. The animation — shadow figures of baby, men, women, canoes — set up the live scenes to follow.
The odyssey of a baby boy named Mana, born one dark night somewhere in the Pacific, might have echoes of the baby Jesus, but this is not Bethlehem and this is not a Christmas story.
This is all about the riches of Polynesia, where ‘ohana values are strong, where song and dance are the fabric of daily life, where aspirations and dreams shape and define the essence of heritage.
More than just a Polynesian voyage, “Ha” evolves into a universal tapestry of family, hope, roots and, ultimately, tradition. While the focus is on one child, the story has symbolic implications for anyone and everyone, and places the values of culture in a family tree structure.
Mana, portrayed small-kid-time by Teahu Mariteragi and William Mahoni, is enacted by Ricky Sua’ava as the young man who takes Lani (Lucie Wilson) as his bride.
The tale is as old as time, tracking the challenges of a family journeying to Hawai’i, and is underscored by Mana’s quest to become a noble warrior, a husband and a father. Along the way, a grass hale (house) is built, and rituals of each community of Polynesians are linked to the evolution and growth of Mana.
The foundation of the show is the bounty of mele of Hawai’i, the otea of Tahiti, the drums of Tonga, the flaming fire dances of Samoa (with David Galeai as the featured solo knife twirler), the camaraderie and harmonies of New Zealand and Fiji.
In shows past, the artistry and splendor of each Polynesian nation were staged as free-standing entertainment, island-hopping like a tour itinerary; the thread of a storyline now unites the cultures now and embraces ceremonial, survival and emotional elements, too: marriage, battle, and death. One ending begins a new life — thus “Ha” is the perfect picaresque vehicle to elevate showmanship into theatrical glory, in the simple sharing of a basic story — the saga of life.
“Ha” employs multi-media technology, with some of the music pre-recorded but augmented by a live band of musicians; narration is also on tracks, but the sound you hear from each sector is live, lovely and real; the rattles or poles that dancers hit as they sway, the drums that are hauled out and thumped on, are also very much here-and-now live.
Other leads are portrayed by Logoatu Vaka as the father, Lupi Fiefia as the mother; throughout the show, there are robust vocals and rousing dances. The wondrous music, the superb lighting and sound, the natural backdrop of a mountain with vegetation all combine to make “Ha” a remarkable treasure, the largest show of its kind anywhere.
Like the symbolic kite that flies in the show, “Ha” raises the bar even higher in a glorious tradition at the Polynesian Cultural Center. There are moments that will make you breathless, and thrilled, and the occasional “ha” sound of breathing on the soundtrack is clever aha moment.

‘HA: BREATH OF LIFE’
7:30 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays
Pacific Theatre, Polynesian Cultural Center
283-3333, 800-367-7060, www.polynesia.com
Adults, $45; youths 5-15, $35; kama’aina adults, $35; kama’aina keiki, $28

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