Archive for August, 2010

Relive the '50s, '60s and '70s at these shows

August 29th, 2010

So you wanna stroll down memory lane, and visit the sounds, the memories, and — even in one case — the stars of the bygone ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s?

Gather round, my friends, and start remembering where you stashed those bowling shirts and poodle skirts, those flared trousers and hot pants, and those Angel’s Flight trous and go-go dance outfits — because nostalgia is right around the corner.

With the undeniable success of the recent recent ‘70s night here, there’s no reason why two upcoming oldies bashes, plus one in Seattle featuring Island bands and ex-pat boomers, shouldn’t also draw throngs.

Here’s the picture:

The 1st Annual Road Runner Doo-Wop Spectacular

7 p.m. Sept. 4

Blaisdell Arena

$45, $55, $65, and $129 (VIP)

800-745-3000 or

This one assembles star power to spare, with five stellar icons of the ‘50s and ’60s: Joey Dee and the Starlighters, of “Peppermint Twist” and “Shout — Part 1” fame; The Dovells, known for “Hully Gully” and “Bristol Stomp;” The Orlons, who helped established the Philly sound via “South Street” and “The Watusi,” The Angels of “My Boyfriend’s Back” and “Till” success, and The Crests featuring Tommy Mara, whose "Sixteen Candles" is a golden oldie.

The Hawaii-based Love Notes, led by Pete Hernandez, who prevailed over the decades as the state’s premier doo-wop group, will also be featured.

4th Annual Nifty ‘50s & ‘60s Oldies Bash 2010

5 p.m. to midnight Oct. 1

Grand Ballroom, Pacific Beach Hotel

$55 includes buffet dinner by Sept. 15; $65 thereafter; $75 at the door

Diane Yoshida at 834-1256, Wendell Kwan at 239-5360, or

This one will lure folks who graduated in the ‘50s and ‘60s, or any other mid-lifers hungry for the sounds and dances of yesteryear. Participating personalities: Deejay Tom Moffatt, OC16’s Champ and deejay Fabulous Woody.

A period costume contest is part of the evening; those attending are asked to bring a non-perishable food item for the Hawaii Food Bank.

Seattle Boomer Blast 2010

6:30 to 11 p.m. Oct. 2

Maplewood Greens Golf Club, 4050 Maple Valley Hwy., Renton, WA

$60, includes appetizers

Russ Shiroma at 224-9224, or

Gail Ohashi (formerly, Gail Kiyama, Kaimuki ’69) is organizing this retro event for Seattle Boomers; and retro dress is encouraged — and don’t forget to bring your Hawaii stories — with prizes for the best dress man and woman. Music of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s will be performed by The King Pins, led by Harvey Yamaguchi, Kaimuki ’69); The Beat Boys (led by Russ Shiroma, Roosevelt ’69 and formerly will The Cadientes); and The Boomettes, with Seattle guest singer Chris Shimada from Nine Lives.

SOS redux: Ruivivar's textbook on reinvention

August 27th, 2010

In his latest reincarnation of his ever-evolving Society of Seven group, Tony Ruivivar proves once again that he is a master with the Midas touch — of reinventing, redefining and remounting this classic Waikiki act.
The group just launched a five-week visit at its old stomping grounds, the Outrigger Waikiki’s Main Showroom, after a nine-year absence.
This is a textbook lesson on reimagining and refining a veteran act, amid
logistics that are somewhat complicated. The hotel no longer operates the club, so the SOS is four-walling the room; in garnering the limelight, the SOS had to “bump” its spin-off Society of Seven LV (Latest Version) act to hiatus status; and there were further challenges — like deciding whether to add a pre-show dinner option (nixed), scheduling two acts back to back (also nixed), the two bands alternating nights (a maybe).
The classic SOS, as it is now billed, bowed at the Outrigger 41 years ago and since has undergone a round of membership changes in remountings far too many to count, for a variety of reasons including death and the usual swinging door departures— and Ruivivar has been the resilient and resourceful thread that has kept this lei of talent fresh, fragrant and family-friendly.
Watching original co-founder Bert Sagum, and now-veteran SOSers Hoku Low and Wayne Wakai weave their magic with newbies Layton “Elika” Santos, Roy Venturina and Vince Mendoza, one can see why a roster tweaking brings out the best of Ruivivar.
He has an ear for talent — any local with a desire to work Waikiki and who can past the mustard to earn a slot will learn that the SOS is like a theatrical machine, with roots in Las Vegas-style comedy and Broadway music. The usual inspiration is all about celebrity — iconic personalities impersonated in brief but familiar turns.
Indeed, impersonations have been an SOS hallmark for the past four decades, and each member of the group has to learn, then share, an element of a star from the past or the current pop charts.
Surely, there’s always an Elvis, though no Michael Jackson now, and you know who’s the hot chick when a Beyonce replaces Britney in the star parade.
A few years ago, Ruivivar finally realized that the presence of a woman trouper would enhance the marquee and provided missing glamor, so the likes of Lani Misalucha, a Filipino songbird still working in Las Vegas, was added. Then Jasmine Trias, Hawaii’s “American Idol” finalist. The latest is Arschiel, is a 15-year-old “find” from Farrington High School, who does Beyonce (and Diana Ross in a Supreme spoof) more as a tribute than an impersonation. No matter.
Of course, SOS guys have played women in drag over time — Cher comes to mind, for example — comic effect. They still do — particularly Sagum, who has the knack to strut and sashay across the stage in chiffon or feathers or sequins.
What’s remarkable, if you’ve been following this act over the decades, is how an old trick can still work (like the cha-cha nonsense, with sheets of paper and a prance to “Tea for Two”) and how traditional pop, country, opera and soul sensations are recycled with savvy and finesse. Again, credit Ruivivar for assembling the contagious rock ballads of Journey alongside an arias of Luciano Pavarotti (Santos) and the power ballads of Celine Dion (Arshiel).
The Great White spotlight includes a segment from “Hairspray,” launched while the SOS were performing in Las Vegas, with revival snippets from “The King and I,” “Dreamgirls,” “Man of La Mancha” and “Jekyll and Hyde.” And a cheerful and charming salute to “Jersey Boys,” with Low demonstrating his Frankie Valli-like highs, is sandwiched in a Las Vegas medley of iconic troupers including Little Richard (Sagum), Kenny G (Wakai), Stevie Wonder (Mendoza).
Another SOS trademark is costumes — minimal this time, but you gotta see ‘em to believe ‘em.

8:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays
Main Showroom, Outrigger Waikiki Hotel
$45 general, $29.50 kamaaina

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Happy birthday ‘Ohi‘a, with one noddah funny show

August 25th, 2010

‘Ohi ‘a Productions, a bastion of pidgin English musical comedy and inspirational shows, marks its 15th season with “Da Anniversary Show,” at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 28) at the Hawaii Theatre.
And at its core, its devotees continue an enduring bond by committing talent, time and energy to keep the spirit and foundation of the late Lisa Matsumoto, who is widely known for her mix of local pidgin with classic fairy tale wisdom and characters, which connect the dottiness between performers and patrons like no other.
“Having been on stage and a part of the production team over the years has given me a more well-rounded perspective on both the company and the shows,” said Zan Timtim, ‘Ohi‘a’s new executive director, committed to move Matsumoto’s legacy to the next level.
Timtim is just one of a 65-member cast, ready to revive and relive the spirit, humor, and vision of Matsumoto, who died tragically in an H1 auto accident in December, 2007, when she was driving in the wrong direction on the freeway in the wee hours.
Other regulars, like Eddy Gudoy and Devon Nekoba, return like the tide whenever a once-upon-one-time or noddah-time is in production. They feel worth and communion in returning to the stage; it’s the camaraderie, the chance to reconnect, the op to communicate with keiki and family audiences, the mainstay of ‘Ohi‘a.
“I really do enjoy being with fellow cast members, talking story and hanging out,” said Gudoy, known for his outrageous characterization. “I don’t know if it changed my life, but I do know that being with ‘Ohi‘a has definitely enhanced it.”
Nekoba, who commonly plays the narrators in the Matsumoto shows, supports the mission of maintaining a link with audiences. “It’s definitely the feeling of carrying on something that was positive and passing it on to younger generations to discover. A sense of responsibility to the idea of educating and entertaining families through the performing arts.”
Timtim experienced an “aha” moment over the decade of participating in the beloved productions featuring music by Roslyn Catracchia, the other half of the Matsumoto creative team. “The first time I realized what an impact the shows made on individuals (was when) a woman sent a thank you note and flowers, thanking everyone for giving her and her husband a wonderful night full of laughter,” said Timtim. “She especially wanted to thank us because her husband unexpectedly passed away the next day and she was grateful she had one last special night with him. Ever since then, I walk on stage knowing that we’re going to positively affect people’s lives.”
Among the actors, Matsumoto’s presence and support are felt, particularly when the playwright’s iconic Da Wicked Queen is centerstage. “The role will be played by Holly Araki, who was Lisa’s understudy in ‘Happily Eva Afta.’ Lisa may not be with us in person, but her spirit is definitely all around through the individuals bringing her characters and stories to life. I feel she’s always with us.”
Gudoy concurs. “Memories of Lisa is always everywhere. Whether it is reading her scripts, listening to heron the CDs or saying our lines while performing our roles, Lisa is always around.”
“No one can replace her,” said Nekoba. “But feeling like we are carrying on her legacy does help us keep our eyes on the goal, which is to do the very best show we can for the families of Hawaii.”
Timtim said new shows — “TiQri: the Little Snow Fox” and “Superhero Smarts” — are being developed, with other local authors collaborating, destined for a pair of school shows.

2 and 7 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 28)
Hawaii Theatre
$25-$50; youth tickets $25

Q&A with Loretta: Happy talk and enchanted evenings

August 24th, 2010

A incredible dream come true. Good fortune. Hard work. A Tony nomination. A lifestyle change. Sharing aloha and Spam musubi.
These reflections of Loretta Ables Sayre, a Mililani Mauka resident, will live forever because she was lucky enough to land the role of Bloody Mary in an exquisite Broadway revival of the beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “South Pacific,” which just closed this past Sunday after a two-and-a-half-year run at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center.
“This has been the most unexpected, most thrilling and most gratifying opportunity and job I have ever had in in my life,” Ables Sayre said in an exit interview.
Before Bloody Mary, she was a chick singer of jazz and pop standards at upscale hotels like the Halekulani and the Kahala Resort. She starred in two productions of “You Somebody” at Diamond Head Theatre, which galvanized her star status in the Islands.
But she was 50, describing herself as round and brown (a “plus” woman, of mixed heritage including Filipino) when she made her Broadway debut. By New York standards, she was a late bloomer — but the experience ultimately transformed her life. Now 52, she’s wiser and seasoned — leaving her mark on the Great White Way by delivering two big show numbers, “Bali Ha’i” and “Happy Talk,” in the classic “South Pacific.”
“As soon as I got to my dressing room after the final bows on Sunday, I cranked up my iPod and played the Sunday Manoa (especially Robert Cazimero’s voice, she noted) and sang along out LOUD to “Honolulu, I am coming back again.”
While she had passion and dedication, to the show and to her character, she is so ready to resettle and readjust to a “normal” life back home in the Islands. You know, putter around the house and garden, schmooze with her dog Makamaka, be a tita again, bake cookies and cakes to her heart’s content.
She shared thoughts about Broadway, the fans, living far from home, the friends she made and the unexpected highs of her presence and creation of the souvenir hawker in a show that had never been revived in six decades — a part she deftly defined for a whole new generation of theater fans.
So here’s our Loretta — fresh from her triumph:
Q: "South Pacific" has changed your life, personally and professionally. How do you perceive and analyze the journey you’re experienced?
A: I was lucky enough to make my living as an entertainer in Hawaii for 30 years. But, the opportunity to perform on Broadway was a dream I really thought I would never see come to fruition. And, the reality of that dream has been bigger and more beautiful and more fantastic than I could have ever hoped it could be. What started out as a three-month engagement, turned into a two-and-a-half year long run. To be a member of a cast of 40 with an orchestra of 30 in a classic, beloved musical that had not been on Broadway since it had premiered 60 years earlier, to be mounted at Lincoln Center Theater, one of the most respected artistic venues in the world, in a show that received 11 Tony Award nominations and 7 Tony Awards, really is more than I could possibly have ever asked for. Receiving a Tony Award nomination (Featured Actress in a Musical) in my Broadway debut is something I still can't quite believe myself. But the real challenge has been to strive to give nightly performances that reach the level of my seasoned fellow actors. Performing on stage with them, under the brilliant direction of Bartlett Sher, is like taking a daily master class in theater. I cannot believe my good fortune in working with them. At age 50, this experience has opened up a whole new world of performance possibilities. You never expect something like this to happen, especially at this age. Who knows what the future holds. I'm so thrilled that this even happened once in my life.

Q: What has been the toughest challenge?
A: Being away from home, my family, my friends and the touchstone that they are to me. It can be a very surreal experience here in New York. And, you miss the reality that your closest friends and family give you.

Q: And the personal sacrifice, like living in New York while you're performing, and publicist-husband David Sayre taking regular trips between NYC and home — how did you cope with the lifestyle change?

A: You just make it work. There is no way to plan ahead for something like this. But, you realize what your priorities are; being in touch, being connected, and being together. This experience isn't happening to just me. It's happening to us. I have to give great credit to my husband David, who made it possible for me to be here. He took care of my mom and our home and his business. And yet, would fly out to be here with me every month. Plus we had our daily phone calls to make sure our communication stayed open. And, we made an effort to keep involved in each other’s lives. When you are married, you share the good and the bad. And having somebody support you and love you is the most important thing of all.

Q: How did Bloody Mary evolve since the time you first inhabited the role? Did you get to better know her inner core?
A: Definitely. When you first start a show, you are worried about memorizing your lines and finding your marks. Then, as time goes on, it's your job as an actor to dig deeper and deeper into your motivation and understand all the many sides of the humanity in your character. Making her real means finding her vulnerabilities, her manipulations, desperation and what propels her forward. The challenge in doing a long run is to keep your character alive.

Q: Any revelations from backstage that you can share?
A: I tried my best to share aloha with the cast. Cooking, baking for them weekly and twice a week on two-show days, I would make them hurricane popcorn...but I would take it a step further by adding into the popcorn goodies that people from Hawaii would send me. For example, macadamia nuts, wasabi peas, candied ginger, iso peanuts, etc. Plus, I would make them Spam musubi...which they refer to as Spam sushi...and they were all surprised at how much they loved it.

Q: You elected to stay with the original company at Lincoln Center, instead of touring with the national company. Do you anticipate or welcome a brief run as Bloody Mary in the near future?
A: I was offered to go on tour after the show here at Lincoln Center Theater closed. But, in a way, I've been "on tour" in my own way by living here in New York and away from Hawaii. So, after almost three years in New York, I've opted to come home and spend some time with my husband and my family instead. However, there is still talk of a West End run (London) and possible other tours, so we'll see what happens with that in the future. Right now my priority is to spend some time at home.

Q: A local girl gets homesick, right? Share your secrets of bringing a bit of home to The Big Apple.
A: Coming from Mililani, looking out at a Manhattan skyline can be jarring. So, I did have to bring as much Hawaii as I could into my home for all the comfort that brings. I made Hawaiian print covered pillows and slipcovers. I bought palm trees for the apartment. I replaced the art on the walls with photos of tropical plants from our garden at home — monstera, red tea leaf, laua'e, etc. Artist Art Furtado gifted me with one of my favorite pieces of his; a beautiful print called "Heleconia" that features a local woman praying amongst hanging heliconia that has hung in our Manhattan apartment. Also listening to Hawaiian music helps brings balance into my hectic life. There is nothing like listening to The Brothers Cazimero when you are standing on the corner of Broadway and 65th Street amongst taxis zipping by, to make you feel grounded.

Q: You've had your share of backstage/stage door visits by the rich, the famous, the average, the hometowners. What are a few memories that you'll cherish forever?
A: A knock on my dressing room door and opening it to find Bette Midler standing there. (They are both Radford grads, so immediately talked pidgin — and flashed shaka signs). Hearing the words "James Taylor is backstage and he would like to meet you." Walking into my dressing room and finding a hand-written note from Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson (I'll treasure that forever). Receiving a bottle of wine from Sting. I've been equally moved by the overwhelming generosity and aloha given to me from local people who have come all the way from Hawaii to see the show. I've been moved to tears by those that have waited by the stage door and offered fresh lei that they brought all the way with them. The ones that would take the time to say aloha and by those who would just leave a note or a box of chocolate-covered mac nuts. Any sign of aloha would fill my heart with joy. One very special moment was when Halua I Ka Wekiu came to see the show, gathered in the hall by our dressing rooms and sang and chanted to me. Members of our cast still remember that chicken skin moment and talk about it all the time. I've taken great pride in sharing Hawaii with our cast. But a magical moment like that is something none of us will ever forget.

Q: What are your plans for life in Hawaii again. A return to club singing again? Community theater?
A: After two-and-a-half years of doing eight shows a week and, in the process, suffering a torn meniscus in my knee, a tear in my rotator cuff, and complete vocal and physical exhaustion, my immediate plan is to rest, rest, and then get more rest. I'm looking forward to soaking in the sun, feeling the trade winds, being with my husband David and our dog Makamaka, and hopefully not hearing any car horns blaring for a while. I don't have any plans of working in nightclubs anytime soon. However, there is the possibility of several pending projects here in New York in the not too distant future...but, nothing that I'm at liberty to discuss at this point.

Q: What will you miss most about Broadway?
A: First of all, I will miss working at Lincoln Center. The people that make up this organization, are the kindest, most professional, welcoming, loving, supportive family you could ever hope to work for. I will miss the thrill of performing a classic, timeless Rodgers and Hammerstein masterpiece. I will miss working with my wonderful fellow actors like Danny Burstein (Luther Billis in the show). He is a consummate professional, a brilliant actor, and my best buddy in the show.

If you saw "South Pacific" with Loretta Ables Sayre, share your comments here about her, your backstage visits, your impression of the production.

TAG: From Kakaako to Chinatown to Iwilei

August 23rd, 2010

TAG — The Actors’ Group — has completed its move, from recebt walk-up Chinatown digs to first-floor Iwilei headquarters at Dole Cannery Square.
The vagabond theater group, known for its intimate playhouse space (for many years, at the Yellow Brick Theater), opens its fall season with “Duets,” premiering Friday (Aug. 27) at its new digs. It’s likely to be the most crucial move in TAG's 14-year history, with free validated parking, conveniently on the bus stop line, right in the heart of a movie theater destination already familiar to Island residents. You no longer need to seek street parking, trek in unknown turf in the dark of night and, well, fear uncertainty and queasiness.
“It was a unanimous decision by the board,” said Eric Nemoto, TAG board president, about the switcheroo. “The clincher was that the Dole location allows us to provide our audience with free validated parking in the Regal theaters parking lot directly across the street.”
While the same number of seats will be available, the Dole space provides TAG with valuable wiggle room — backstage space for costumes, dressing rooms, set design and more.
But location also brings prospects of a brighter future — with a partnership with the established Hawaii International Film Festival, which anchors its annual attraction at the Regal Cinema theaters across the street.
“We also expect to be able to partner with the Hawaii International Film Festival,” said Richard Tillotson, TAG board member. “We think there could be a lot of synergy. The people who attend films at HIFF are the kind of audience that should be attracted to our shows, and our theater will be right across the street.”
One thing that won’t change is the kind of shows we do,” said Brad Powell, TAG’s artistic director. “We are committed to doing unique, intimate, live theater. TAG is a nearly all-volunteer operation, so we’re able to do plays not because we have to, but because we want to.”

“We think their offerings of live theater that both challenges as well as entertains and goes on throughout the year will be very complementary to our festivals of challenging, entertaining films in the spring and fall,”
said Chuck Boller, executive diector of the Hawaii International Film Festival. “We welcome TAG to the neighborhood.”


Q: Why the move?
A: Better space, a more comfortable experience for audiences (especially the validated parking). Easy access, no hikes up a flight of stairs.

Q: What else is over there?
B: Regal Cinemas, the Hawaii International Film Festival, and Ballet Hawaii to name a few. The foot traffic with movie fans will open TAG to a potentially larger audience.

Q: Why abandon the Chinatown traffic?
A: TAG shows are a pretty unique experience. People come to TAG to see TAG shows, not because of anything the theater might be next to.

Q: What about the security over there?
A: Dole provides 24/7 security for the building; at least one security guard is always stationed right in front of the building no more than 20 feet from the entrance to the theater.

Q: Will TAG alter its show slate?
A: No. The plan is to continue unique, intimate, live theater, often the kind of shows other theaters in town can’t or don’t do. Word of mouth and a “retail location” with good street traffic — the moviegoers to Regal and HIFF — should help us a lot.

Q: Where can you eat dinner?
A: Wherever you eat dinner now. It’s less than a five-minute drive from Chinatown or Aloha Tower Marketplace to the new theater. Sam Choy’s and Zippy’s on Nimitz Highway are within walking distance. Other options: restaurants on the ewa side of Dole Cannery Square facing Costco, and a food court in Dole Cannery, which is going to be moving down into the space adjacent to the theater.

Q. Where is the theater exactly?
A. Enter the Regal parking lot Pacific Street one block ewa of Nimitz. (Make the turn at Hilo Hattie.) There’s a five-story covered parking lot with a sign “Regal Cinema Parking.” Find your way to the first floor, opposite the Regal location. An elevated pedestrian skyway provides access to Dole Cannery; once there, take the escalator down to the ground floor.
Q. Does TheBus go there?
A. Yes. There’s a stop directly in front of the theater.

A comedy by Peter Quilter
Opening Friday (Aug. 27), repeating 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Sept. 19
Tickets: $20 general, $15 seniors; $12 students, military and groups of 10 or more; all seats are $10 on Thursdays
Reservations: 722-6941,
Director: David C. Farmer
Featuring: Allyson West, Richard Valasek, Ron Heller, Patrice Scott,Peter Clark, Karen Valasek,
Victoria Gail-White, John Wythe White

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