Archive for July, 2010

Broadway musicals ease the tension, shed light on hatred

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July 14th, 2010



NEW YORK — Hawaii and the rest of the nation and the world could learn a lesson about civil unions and non-traditional relationships via an old musical that is simultaneously providing renewed vigor as well as reviving holdover venom from folks of all persuasions who are, happily, bonding by standing up and cheering and giving the show a spontaneous thumbs up.
I’m in the midst of a Broadway vacation and am reminded of the tension and tantrums that have surrounded the civil union issue in Honolulu this month. There are some insightful lessons being shared on the Great White Way.
“La Cage Aux Folles,” rebooted with a scaled-down cast of Les Cagelles (played entirely by men in heels) and staged in a smaller theater that gives it the semblance of a large cabaret house, is art reflecting life’s lingering hatred. It is this year’s Best Musical Revival Tony Award winner, and it sweetly hurls concrete evidence that prejudice is so yesterday and that we are all human equals, no matter the sexual orientation. Especially if we can laugh about the situation and the consequences.
Both pro- and anti-camps on the matter of civil unions can learn a thing or two, since this tale — about two homosexuals, one working as an emcee in a transvestite club where his partner as the star cross-dresser — offers a profound message: be proud of who you are and shame on you if you think same-sex couples shouldn’t live with the same happiness and privileges straights enjoy.
With Kelsey Grammer as Georges, the “man” in the relationship, and Tony-winning Douglas Hodge as Albin, the impersonator extraordinaire, “La Cage” is a barrage of the obvious: sight gags, double entendres, see-sawing sexism, of guys as women singing and dancing in high heels, and snotty bureaucrats who condemn civil unions with rudeness and rigidity. You know the story — the issue of being different reaches a head when Georges’ son wants his dad to meet the rigid family of his intended bride, outing the private lives of the household where the son had two dads. Well, one who was his mom through life.
In other current Broadway hits, bias and hatred are explored on slightly different plains — and everything is sorted out, for the most part, by the final curtain. Oh, if real life were so simple.
Consider:
• The racial tension of the two warring gangs, the Sharks and the Jets in “West Side Story,” causes the ultimate tragedy resulting from the friction.
• The prejudice of a white nurse, who falls for a Frenchman who fathered two dark-skinned children in the World War II-linked “South Pacific” musical, along with a lieutenant who falls in love with a Tonkinese woman knowing the relationship would be forbidden in his society, is six decades old in context, yet could make you feel queasy.
• The relationship between a black singer of rock-blues and a white deejay known for playing black music in “Memphis,” again reflects a time when being color blind was not the rule.
• A British miner-father who condemns his son, because he soars in the world of ballet instead of boxing, in “Billy Elliot,” is more familial than fantasy, but understandable and possible today.
• The phantom with the disfigured face, who loves a soprano he considers his protégé in a Paris opera house where he cavorts, in “The Phantom of the Opera,” is again a static case of judging one's appearance instead of character.
• The lass with the bewitched green skin, despised and maligned because of her physical appearance, in “Wicked,” is another case of being judged by how different you look.

But the issue of equal rights in civil unions, in “La Cage,” touches a nerve and raises a flag or two in the political football now punting around in Honolulu. Gov. Linda Lingle is calling for a public vote to decide on the matter; perhaps a “La Cage” production and its fictional sentimentality is what is needed to bring a bit of civility to the table to erase some of the bigotry and tension in real life.
Life can learn from art.
What say you?

Taking sides: Edward or Jacob? Bieber or Timberlake?

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July 5th, 2010



Nowadays, it’s all about taking sides.
You know, red state or blue state?
In the forthcoming govfest, Team Mufi or Team Neil?
Ah, I digress. This is the arts-entertainment corner.
So on whose side are you?
Are you a member of Team Edward or Team Jacob?
“The Karate Kid” now, with Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, or the original with Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita?
Justin Bieber or Justin Timberlake?
Lady Gaga or Madonna?
Taylor Swift or Leann Rimes?
With “Hawaii Five-O,” are you angling for Alex O’Loughlin or aching for Jack Lord?
And “The A-Team” now, or then?
If mom’s the word, is it Kate Josselin or the Octomom?
Among the food wizards, do you crave for Emeril Lagasse or Rachel Ray?
And McDonald’s or Jack in the Box?
Cupcakes or malassadas?
With shave ice, Matsumoto’s or Aoki’s?
Jonas Brothers or the Osmonds?
Genki Sushi or Kozo?
Capt. Jack Sparrow or Indiana Jones?
With James Bond, Sean Connery or Daniel Craig?
The iPad or the iPhone?
Society of Seven original or Society of Seven Las Vegas?
Sons of Hawaii or The Makaha Sons?
“Over the Rainbow” plain, or with a side order of “What a Wonderful World”?
“NCSI” or “NCSI Los Angeles?”
June Jones or Greg McMackin?
KHON2 or “Hawaii News Now”?
TGIF then or TGIF now?
Share your thoughts...

'Lone Ranger' buzz taps filmdom's big names

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July 1st, 2010



Old rumors never die — and here’s one with good buzz.
“The Lone Ranger,” a classic American cowboy-with-Native American favorite from at least two, perhaps three generations ago, is heading for the big screen in 2012.
The producer: Jerry Bruckheimer.
The star eager to play the Lone Ranger masked hero: George Clooney.
The cohort possible as the sidekick Tonto, aka Kemo Sabe: Johnny Depp.
The screenplay writers: Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, who have authored the “Pirates” scripts.
The director: Gore Verbinski, the “Pirates” director.
A dream project?
While there are no Hawaii ties, all of the aforementioned figures have worked been involved in earlier projects here — or are in production now.
Bruckheimer previously produced “Pearl Harbor” in the Islands and is the go-to guy for the fourth “Pirates of the Caribbean” installment, “On Stranger Tides,” now before the cameras. Of course, Depp is starring as Capt. Jack Sparrow in the sea adventure with pirates a-plenty.
Clooney, one of Hollywood’s respected players, recently wrapped “The Descendants” filming here.
Now only if all the movers and shakers could bring some of “The Lone Ranger” filming to the Islands. Maybe in a dream sequence?
Hey, we have environments that resemble a dusty desert and rolling plains where the Lone Ranger and Tonto could cavort.
Just a thought. ...

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