Archive for June, 2010

Why 'Toy Story 3' echoes 'The Wizard of Oz'

June 21st, 2010

Movie industry folks are stunned that Disney’s “Toy Story 3” amassed an impressive $110 million gross this past weekend.
Didn’t you go, to contribute to the total?
I did, with wife and 12-year-old nephew in tow. It's a great family pic, and I think it echoes "The Wizard of Oz." More, later.
Woody the cowboy and Buzz Lightyear the astronaut are iconic characters first introduced in 1995, which means today’s collegians were in first grade when the dude with the cowpoke hat and Holstein vest and the flying soul in the green and white spacesuit and bubble shield unreeled on screen and became essentials at toy stores for birthday- and Christmas-giving.
Their bond then is much tighter now, even if Buzz is (warning: spoiler) spaced out in a telling moment in the film, doing the unthinkable to Woody.
Andy, the lad in “TS3” who has played with his toy pals is packing Woody to go to college but bagging his other friends for storage in the attic (warning: spoiler) with an unintended detour to curbside and the trash pickup, setting up the mission to restore the bond.
Didn’t you treasure your “Star War” dolls and “Star Trek” spaceship collection when you were college bound, too?
Toys not in “TS1” or “TS2” are introduced (warning: spoiler) — Ken and Barbie, Lots-o-Huggin’ the strawberry-scented bear and a creepy doll previously mistreated. Plus a chatting phone and a purple octopus — none, of course, as sentimental and heart-tugging as Buzz and Woody.
I saw the film in 3D, which is subtle and, frankly, largely unnecessary, in this floor-level saga of toys battling each other (and warding off nasty daycare kids, who don’t show respect) to save the dignity of our favorite playthings.
The third time’s the charmingest, it turns out; sequels often are deflated and overrated; this is a franchise entry that likely will be one of the year’s astronomical hits.
Whether you’re 5, 15, 25, 35, 55 or 65, you’ll get wattage and a wee bit of the wet-eyes in the perfect denouement — the toys are jostled to a land beyond the yellow brick road, as if a tornado came and swept them away to a turf called day care. It's like a bad nightmare (is there a good one?) of fright and fear, where friends can be enemies, and vice-versa. One toy finds his heart; another, learns he's got brain smarts; still another, discovers courage. Many other virtues evolve —in animation, mind you. Brilliant animation, from the Pixar folks.
When it comes down to basics, the toys just want to get back home, just like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.”

So what’s your take on the Woody-Buzz bonding? And how did “TS3” deliver as the summer’s sizzling flick?

MVT's Dwight Martin earns national theater service award

June 19th, 2010

Dwight T. Martin, producing director of Manoa Valley Theatre since 1980, has done it all — an actor recently in “Sleuth,” a stage and arts advocate-administrator for three decades, a director, and more.
So receiving a prestigious national award from the American Assn. of Community Theatre (AACT), in a ceremony preceding performances at the AACT International 10, convening next Friday (June 250 in Venice, FL, is a reflection of Martin’s worth and merit.
The honor is the David C. Bryant Outstanding Service Award, given by the organization of folks who stage community theater in cities and towns across America, and recognizes significant, valuable and lasting service to community.
Martin’s name is synonymous with MVT’s, as a performer and a leader and certainly a sparkplug in keeping “Hawaii’s off-Broadway theater,” as Manoa often is called, alive and well. Since 1994, Martin has been the AACT state contact for the Islands, continues to serve as a board member (he’s a former president, too) of the Hawaii State Theatre Council (HSTC), the organization that produces the annual Po’okela Awards (coming up July 26), and the 2000 recipient of HSTC’s Pierre Bowman Award for lifetime achievement.
He has worked professionally in theater management since 1977 and has performed and guest-directed with companies in Missouri, North Carolina, Arizona and Hawaii. His perseverance and determination, linked to his quest to woo Mainland playwrights to share their works in MVT premieres, have resulted in playwrights Gerard Alessandrini (“Forbidden Broadway”), Marvin Laird (“Ruthless”) and Mark Medoff (“Children of a Lesser God”) to bestow performing rights to MVT for Hawaii premieres.
Martin is the second Hawaii theater advocate to earn the AACT laurel; in 2008, Vanita Rae Smith, now a retiree, was the recipient for her devoted four-decade service to Army Community Theatre.

'Terra Nova' goes Down Under, 'Battleship' ready to sail here

June 18th, 2010

With “Hawaii Five-O” poised for summer shooting for its CBS reboot this fall, and ABC committing to keep its post-"Lost" presence here by casting our landscape as the Amazon for its mid-season medical drama “Off the Map” shooting next month, what’s next?
Well, for one thing, not Steven Spielberg biggie for Fox, the futuristic “Terra Nova.” While Hawaii was the original destination of choice for the 13-episode mid-season $150 million sci-fi spectacle, the producer has decided to shoot Down Under, with production already under way with Alex Graves (“Fringe” pilot) directing. Too bad; this one sounds like must-see TV inspired by “Avatar” with dinosaurs reminiscent of Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” franchise (partially shot here), involving a family in 2149, time-traveling back to prehistoric times. Perhaps Spielberg’s “The Pacific” filming on Aussie turf in Melbourne prompted a return to Queensland.
On the movie front, Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” with Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, already is in production, with director Rob Marshall aiming to shoot on Oahu and on Kauai (in addition to Britain and Los Angeles) for release May 20, 2011. It will be a milestone film for Hawaii: the first feature filmed here in 3D.
But wait: Universal’s “Battleship,” the sci-fi big-screen adaptation of the Hasbro game, expects to launch filming here Aug. 30 for a June 12, 2012 premiere. Director Peter Berg still is casting the picture, with Taylor Kitsch (“Friday Night Lights,” “X-Men”) as a spirited naval officer joined by Alexander Skarsgard (“True Blood”) as his brother, a straight-arrow naval officer, in the adventure that brings an alien element challenging an international fleet with water-battles a-plenty.
Lights! Cameras! Reaction, anyone? Enough already, or bring on more?

Reach Wayne Harada at 266-0926 or

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Boys will be girls — a universe of impersonation

June 17th, 2010

This is the ultimate pageant, where guys become dolls, strutting in gowns, heels and glamor to spare.
It’s the 27th annual Universal ShowQueen Pageant, set for 7 p.m. June 26, at the Hawaii Convention Center’s Kalakaua Ballrooms. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Go early; I’ve attended an earlier pageant, and it’s amazing what makeup and haute couture can do for fellas with 5 o'clock shadow and thin waistlines.
The show, produced by Jason Kina, is the main attraction — but there’s also a grand parade of impersonators strutting in the audience. So look everywhere; lots of fun, some frivolity, lots of glam.
No wonder this extravaganza, expected to draw a sell-out audience of 1,500, is billed as Hawaii’s Most Extravagant Pageant, “The Ultimate in Boy Beautiful” and “The Ultimate in the Art of Female Impersonation.”
Ten contestants are on board, representing Hawaii, the Mainland, Mexico and Asia. These guys surely work much harder and invest a lot more into this title quest, than, say, traditional pageants like the Miss Hawaii competition. They strut in couture cocktail dress, evening gown and Las Vegas showgirl costumes. Expect anything from the sleek to the absurd, particular in the showgirl category, where feathers and sequins abound, and sparkles and glitter rule, from headgear to footwear. There’s also a talent division, and some feats are remarkably original and frequently ingeniously funny.
Some entrants, I swear, look like real women, magically creating an illusion as a body beautiful in the sense associated with pageants.
Oh, there’s entertainment, too; while judges tally their votes, Lani Misalucha, whom Islanders may know best as a former featured singer with the Society of Seven, will perform. She now headlines the “Voices” show at the Las Vegas Hilton.
Misalucha also is a judge, joined by Emme Tomimbang, producer-host of “Emme’s Island MomentsDr. Angela Pratt; Miss Hawaii U.S.A. Renee Nobriga, entertainer Keali’i Reichel, former news anchor Shawn Ching, “Sunrise” co-host Steve Uyehara, and Budi Staven, owner of the Blue Buddha.
Augie T, Dina and Al Waterson will share emceeing duties.
Tickets: $50, at Diamond Head Video, 1745 Kalakaua Ave.; call 943-6066.
Have you attended a ShowQueen Pageant before? What are your impressions you can share?

Reach Wayne Harada at 266-0926 or

Why we aren’t on the Broadway tour map

June 16th, 2010

Honolulu has never been a mecca for touring Broadway shows — and there’s a reason why.
Simply: There has never been a real effort to get a regular flow of productions here — an ongoing season of shows. We’ve had visiting shows, sure; but they’ve come sporadically.
So isn’t it time we started doing something to change this?
Sure, we’ve had some must-sees in the past — think “Les Miserables,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Miss Saigon” in the 1990s, and two years ago, “The Lion King” — but these shows came in small waves.
But there is a thirst here; “Lion King” was a roaring success, running an unprecedented 13 weeks at Blaisdell Concert Hall; “Les Miz” and “Phantom” each had multi-week visits twice because of popularity.
Do we want to be like other metropolitan marketplaces to host a regular parade of touring shows? Of course. Not just because we no longer have an active symphony orchestra; nor because the Blaisdell theater otherwise sits idle and unbooked, meaning revenue is not being generated.
We deserve to have regular access to plays, the way we routinely get first-run films. But it’s a privilege that doesn’t come easily and not without widespread support.
So the launch of “Broadway in Hawaii,” a two-show mini-season heading this way this fall, is a baby step towards creating a regular wave of productions that will swing our way over the next few years. It’s exciting that someone — in this case, NewSpace Entertainment of Salt Lake City — is eager to develop a following to fill the thirst we’ve had for a long time.
The two shows that comprise this first Broadway in Hawaii “season” are “Beauty and the Beast,” a tale as old as time and a show as old as wine, which plays two weeks starting Sept. 21 at Blaisdell Concert Hall, followed by “Cats,” which will bring its junkyard loaded with memory-making felines for a week’s residency starting Dec. 28.
It’s a yawn, if you’ve seen both shows. But the point is, many folks have seen neither; some may have seen one. The truth is, any returning show always reaches a new generation of young spectators. This is the future of theater-goers. And Broadway in Hawaii looms as the conduit of future touring shows.
The critical question is, do you go back to see something you’ve seen on Broadway or in Los Angeles, to build and grow Broadway in Hawaii?
“Beauty” is no “Lion King,” so that record-breaking 13-week run two years ago will stand for a long time. It was the right time and the right Broadway blockbuster to visit us in the vast Pacific.
Booking shows here is based on a multitude of factors: suitability for the marketplace, availability on the touring schedule, economic support from the community. Cost is a major factor in transiting cast, crew and sets here, and generally speaking, there has to be time on the tour’s sked to allow a break to ship every thing and everyone here. We got “Lion King” because it had two sets available, with one shipped here to ease the timetable. In the era of “Phantom,” sets had to be air-shipped on chartered 747s. And this was well before high gas prices and those loathsome add-on charges that are standard today.
But I digress.
Broadway in Hawaii is hoping to build a community of support that would eventually bring current shows that folks routinely see elsewhere. Right now, it takes a decade for a hit to transit the Pacific.
In short: we are not yet on the radar for the first wave of tours. But we have not demonstrated that we will buy a season — in many cities, this could be four to six productions in a subscription series paralleling local community theater seasons but with bragging rights — so we have a way to go.
Broadway in Hawaii has pledged 50 cents from each ticket sale to establish an education fund to support arts education and the development of new work here, with seven youth-centric beneficiaries: the Friends of Kennedy Theatre endowment scholarship fund, the Kaimuki High School Performing Arts Center, the Performing Arts Center of Kapolei (PACK) at Kapolei High School, the Castle Performing Arts Center, the Alliance for Drama Education and the Honolulu Theatre for Youth.
“It could easily be $10,000, $20,000, $30,000,” said Steve Boulay, president of NewSpace Entertainment, while in Honolulu. That comes to seven cents per ticket per organization, prompting Louise Lanzilotti, HTY managing director, to quote a tune from the musical “Pajama Game:”
“Seven and a half cents doesn't mean a heck of a lot
“Seven and a half cents doesn't mean a thing
“But give it to me every hour
“Forty hours every week
“That's enough for me to be
“Living like a king.”
Start small, think big. Could we finally get “Wicked” next year and “Billy Elliot” in three years?
Hope is on the horizon.

Reach Wayne Harada at 266-0926 or

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