Archive for May, 2011

Snacks, support show actors someone cares

May 23rd, 2011

Second of Two Parts

It’s all about caring, says Jo Pruden, about Manoa Valley Theatre’s actor-friendly “Adopt-a-Play” program that runs concurrently with the rehearsal process of each production.
“I think it’s very invaluable to provide a setting for interaction between cast and board members and to give board members a look at the process involved in mounting a show,” says Pruden, an award-winning actor, who is playing Violet Weston, the matriach, in Tracy Letts’ “August: Osage County,” now in production at MVT. “From the early days of the program, it was evident to me that MVT cares about its volunteers and makes an effort to support them in a variety of ways.”
She’s not a huge eater, “but the brief ‘social hour’ is always welcome,” she says of the snack-and-drink break involving the “parents.” More than the nourishment, it’s a warm fuzzy feeling, knowing someone cares, that counts most.
Attorney Jeff Portnoy, who is MVT president, is pleased with the way “Adopt-a-Play” has played out, bridging his board with the folks in the limelight of creating a show.
“From my perspective, it has been an invaluable asset to our organization,” says Portnoy, who has, with wife Sandi, served as “parents” many times. “It gives the board member an ‘inside’ look at how a play actually gets mounted and ‘bonds’ the board to our acting and technical volunteers. From the cast viewpoint, besides the food and drink, it lets them know we are all ‘one,’ and that we appreciate all they do for MVT.”
Greg Howell, who’s acted and has done make-up and hair for MVT shows many times over the decades, says “parents” provide a valuable service not commonly practiced on other stages.
“I can’t tell you how many times we are rushing from our jobs to rehearsal and have no time to get dinner,” says Howell who is portraying Bill Fordham in the play. “The nutritional support, combined with the genuine enthusiasm of the ‘parents’ for the work we do, is a phenomenon I have experienced only at MVT ... makes me think of MVT as my ohana.”
The break can be intrusive sometimes (“it is hard to break the spell of the process”), but “it is almost always a pleasure to take a moment and relax. So often, we return to the script with a fresh approach — and more energy,” says Howell.
Bree Bumatai, who has served on several levels at MVT (management team, director, actor), is a big supporter of the “adoption” program. “I know the program is very unique, and having viewed it from all sides, I can say I think it is highly successful,” says Bumatai, who is enacting the part of Barbara Weston.
“The program gives members of the board an opportunity to observe the process, and allows them insight into how a production comes together. It also allows the volunteers an opportunity to see who helps to shape and support the company. Only rarely have I felt it a distraction ... more often than not, it is a valuable interaction, and a nice break!”
Director Glenn Cannon, who has helmed shows at virtually all theater stages in town, also enjoys the nibbles and welcomes the camaraderie. “I and most of the cast enjoy the snacks and also feel a sense of support from the board,” says Cannon, a University of Hawaii drama professor who also periodically takes a community role. “I personally like being able to chat a bit with ‘parents.’
“As long as the break is not too long, in terms of the flow of the rehearsal, it is a positive experience. Sure, other theaters might do this as well, but obviously, that depends on their operating structure.”
At MVT, there are enough “parents” to cover the five or six plays that comprise a season, since there are more 30 board members. Spouses and partners are welcome to join in the fellowship, and depending on the size of the cast, there’s an abundance of chatter and shared aloha during the breaks.

'August: Osage County’

7 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays, through June 5
Manoa Valley Theatre
Running time: 3 hours 20 minutes, including two intermissions
Tickets: $30 general; $25 seniors and military; $15 youths 25 and under (not recommended for youngsters below 14
Reservations: 988-6131,

‘Parenting’ a privilege in MVT play process

May 22nd, 2011

First of Two Parts

Since 1989, Manoa Valley Theatre has engaged “parents” to “adopt” a production, to provide munchies and refreshments for the actors during the rehearsal period. In the process, these volunteers — who are members of the MVT board of directors — get under the skin of a show, observe the cast as they prepare and plug into the roles that the community-at-large gets to see, and clearly get a front-row ticket to experience what makes a show tick.
MVT is believed to be the only theater organization here that makes “parenting” part of the production process, says Dwight Martin, producing director. The decade-old program is called “Adopt-a-Play,” and literally obligates board members to get hands-on experience, like soccer moms and dads, to bring goodies to the show in rehearsal, which results in a pay-off that’s a rare privilege.
You get to see the show from its audition moments, through the rehearsal process, and finally as the finished product. It’s a journey that requires time, effort, commitment and a few bucks, since “parents” pay out of the pocket for the edibles. In the end, you get a chance to bond and observe a show in the making, while providing a valuable service to the business of getting a show launched.
In conjunction with the show now on the boards, “August: Osage Country,” I made my maiden visit as an MVT “parent,” peeking in on the rehearsals and kibitzing with the performers and the director.
I selected this Tracy Letts vehicle to play out my “parenting,” since it was a socko drama I saw in New York in 2007. Very adult, very demanding, very absoring theater — with two intermissions!
Ultimately, I’ve discovered a new respect for those who elect to make time and create magic in the black box that is theater.
Working with “head parent” Guy Merola, himself a sometimes actor, I and other board members made periodic cast visits, to haul in cookies, fruit, trail mix, baked goods and soft drinks to provide edibles and a cool one during practice sessions. First, at an alternate practice site, Iolani School, then at the MVT theater in Manoa.
For me, the process for this show actually started last fall, when initial auditions were held at MVT. I stopped by twice, to see the first go-round of tryouts, when actors known and unknown sought out parts of members of a dysfunctional Southern family in Letts’
award-winning drama. Attorney Jeff Portnoy, MVT president, also serves as a "parent," though not for "August." Thus, he regularly pops in on rehearsals, to get to sample the flavor of each production.
Regular rehearsals were staged the past two months at Iolani School’s dance studio,
because MVT’s space was jammed with folks laughing along to and applauding the outrageously funny “Avenue Q,” the musical with the naughty puppets.
The “August” adult cast enjoyed the nibbles, just like school youngsters at recess. For the “parent,” the task was a treat — because you get to better know and appreciate how the spoken text jumps off the pages of the script, and the inter-action is alive and involving. In the case of “August,” there’s plenty of sparkling, explosive dialogue — since the drama (with some comedic moments) tackles everything from drugs, sex, sexual harassment, alcholism, suicide, racism, incest, pedophilia, infidelity, deat and more.
“Another local theater tried to emulate our (Adopt-a-Play) program but it didn’t survive the first year,” says Martin, who shared the parental-support program eight years ago at a bi-annual Community Theatre Managing Directors Conference hosted by the University of Wisconsin that assembles theater managers from across the nation to tackle common problems and achievements. Since then, a couple of other Mainland groups have tried and adopted the program.
The notion to assemble board members, to check in on the acting projects, evolved when a board member inquired whether it was possible for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at operations. “Anything that helps the governing board understand more fully what they are governing is a good thing in my book,” says Martin.
Barbara Nickerson, who coordinates the “Adopt-a-Play” program, says some directors “adopt” more than one play.
“Generally the process works well,” says Nickerson. “The hardest part for me is getting a head parent. Not everyone wants to put in (or have the time) the bit of extra time set up the visit schedule and keep things on track, so I have to actively recruit someone.”
Food sometimes poses an unexpected program. Some “parents” bring lavish spreads, others don’t, she says. “The lavish spreads tend to take time, so that impacts the rehearsals, but the actors are so appreciative (and hungry).” For some actors, the snacks mean dinner, since they rush from their day jobs straight to practice.
“It’s a real disappointment when there are no-shows,” she said.
Costco food packets are generally the most convenient way to go for snacks; bottled water and chilled fruit drinks are welcome. Nickerson provides a list of suitable munchies; plates and utensils are required if food needs to be served.
Most often, finger food prevaisl. Chocolates are supposedly not-so-good for voices, so when a cast is rehearsing for a musical, chocolate candy or cake are not recommended — though the actors have a sweet tooth.
“We’ve limited participation in the program t board members and their spouses, but notoriety of the program has extended beyond the board and there have been occasional inquiries from ‘outsiders,’” says Martin.
Meaning: If you want to “parent,” asking may get you in. Just make sure you have your snacks ready for the road trip.

Tomorrow: What the actors and crew say about “parenting” and the treats.

‘August: Osage County’

7 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays, through June 5
Manoa Valley Theatre
Running time: 3 hours 20 minutes, including two intermissions
Tickets: $30 general; $25 seniors and military; $15 youths 25 and under (not recommended for youngsters below 14
Reservations: 988-6131,

Rejoice, rejoice: 'Five-0' renewed for 2nd season

May 18th, 2011

Not a surprise, but still a reason to rejoice: CBS announced early today that the Island-filmed “Hawaii Five-0” will return for a second season this fall.
In the same time slot, of course, at 9 p.m. Mondays, Hawaii time.
So it’s official.
Of local note, former “Magnum P.I.” star Tom Selleck will return for his sophomore season on his second CBS hit, “Blue Bloods,” at 9 p.m. Fridays. The storyline is based in New York.
And J.J. Abrams, part of the creative team for ABC’s earlier filmed-in-Hawaii “Lost,” launches a new CBS series, “Person of Interest,” in the 8 p.m. Thursday slot. The show also is New York-based, with Jim Caviesel and Michael Emerson starring.

The full CBS slate for primetime 2011-2012:

7 p.m. — “How I Met Your Mother”
7:30 p.m. — “2 Broke Girls” (new)
8 p.m. — “Two and a Half Men”
8:30 p.m. — “Mike & Molly”
9 p.m. — “Hawaii Five-0”

7 p.m. — “NCIS”
8 p.m. — “NCIS: Los Angeles”
9 p.m. — “Unforgettable” (new)

7 p.m. — “Survivor: South Pacific”
8 p.m. — “Criminal Minds”
9 p.m. — “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (new time)

7 p.m. — “The Big Bang Theory”
7:30 p.m. — “How To Be a Gentleman” (new)
8 p.m. — “Person of Interest” (new)
9 p.m. — “The Mentalist”

7 p.m. — “A Gifted Man” (new)
8 p.m. — “CSI: New York”
9 p.m. — “Blue Bloods”

7 p.m. — “Rules of Engagement” (new time)
7:30 p.m. — “Comedytime Saturday”
8 p.m. — “Crimetime Saturday”
9 p.m. — “48 Hours Mystery”


6 p.m. — “60 Minutes”
7 p.m. — “The Amazing Race”
8 p.m. — “The Good Wife” (new time)
9 p.m. — “CSI: Miami”

Many questions after the ‘Five-0’ blowout

May 17th, 2011

With the expected announcement Wednesday (May18) that CBS will pick up “Hawaii Five-0” for a second season, the series and its characters are caught between expectation and anxiety, surprise and satisfaction, and rest and recuperation.
But this week’s finale (May 16) likely will be the tone and timbre of season two’s launch.
There were indications that the last installment of the freshman season would shock and please, but there was unexpected death and expected denial, played out like a grenade with the pin off. In the end, there was schrapnel and fallout — literal and figurative — spewed hither and yon.
But lots of questions in the aftermath along with assumptions about the fall return:
• How will Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) retain his cred and get out of jail?
• Was Governor Jameson (Jean Smart) in cahoots with Wo Fat (Mark Dascoscas) leading to her death?
• Was the gov’s demise influenced by reality, since our real gov was a woman till the last election, suggesting a guy gov bow this fall?
• What kind of security prevails at the gov’s mansion (OK, in the show, it’s Washington Place, now a museum, with the gov’s quarters in the back, but unmentioned and unused). As great at sleuthing McG might be (being an ex-SEAL and all), he outwitted and out-fought a handful of the gov’s protectors, who were virtually useless Nio wonder the state has moolah problems, it overhires.
• We know how McG entered the gov’s place – he had the punch-in security code, but does it every change? How did Wo Fat make his entrance?
• Can Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) be trusted, after saying H50 was his life, since he bailed out and returned to the Honolulu Police Department (as a lieutenant, no less), since the smudge on his rep was erased?
• Is Chin’s switcheroo a setup, so he can assist McG from that side of the fence in the opener of season two?
• What’s the motive to jail Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park), who is taking the fall for her cuz, Chin, in the money-disappearing (and reappearing) dilemma in season one?
• How come Laura Hills (Kelly Hu) was killed in the car bombing? Wasn’t hers to be a recurring role?
• Hasn’t Danno Williams (Scott Caan) evolved as the best wedge of this procedural pie? And the loyalist to McG, despite the bickering. Will Emmy call again?
• With Danno’s ex Rachel (Claire Van Der Boom) preggie, and returning to New Jersey with daughter Grace (Teillor Grubbs), will she have an expanded role next fall?
• Is Hawaiian Airlines eyeing a direct flight to Newark? That’s the flight mom and daughter boarded to get home; said so at the boarding gate.
• Why didn’t the writers work in a final “Book ’em Danno” in the finale script? Too infrequent.
• Elvis, singing “Ke Kali Nei Au,” via “Blue Hawaii” on TV? Was the whole shoot-;em, fool ‘ em antics just a dream, after Rachel leaves Danno following a tryst, and he wakes up at the start of the new season and the same-old, same-old continues?

Surely, you must have your own questions and theories about the “Five-0” buzz this week. Share ’em here...

Bruno Mars in orbit again, vying for 11 Billboard awards

May 16th, 2011

Native son Bruno Mars is in orbit again, logging 11 nominations in the 2011 Billboard Music Awards, which will be handed out Sunday (May 22) in an ABC telecast originating from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Rihanna leads the field of nominees, with 18, followed by Eminen with 16 and Lady Gaga with 12.
Mars and Justin Bieber are tied with 11 apiece, surely to battle it out in their key categories — Top New Artist and Top Male Artist — since both have extensive fan appeal among the youth demographics.
For Mars, a Honolulan who started his show biz career as an Elvis impersonator, the Billboard competition is yet another step on his very tall ladder (still extended upward and onward) of success.
He's already a Grammy winner, in a career still in freshman stage.
Meanwhile, Jack Johnson, also with Island residency, is the only other local vying in the Billboard competish, earning two nominations (see below).

These are the categories in which Mars is competing — and with whom:
Top New Artist: Mars, along with Justin Bieber, Taio Cruz, Ke$ha and Nicki Minaj.
Top Male Artist: with Bieber, Drake, Eminem and Usher,
Top Hot 100 Artist: with Ke$ha, Katy Perry, Rihanna and Usher.
Top Digital Songs Artist: with Eminem, Ke$ha, Perry and Rihanna.
Top Radio Songs Artist: with Drake, Perry, Rihanna and Usher.
Top Hot 100 Song: Mars’ “Just the Way You Are,” Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite,” Eminem with Rihanna’s “Love The Way You Lie,”Perry with Snoop Dogg’s “California Gurls” and Usher with’s “OMG.”
Top Digital Song: Mars’ “Just the Way You Are,”B.o.B. with Hayley Williams “Airplanes,” Cruz’s “Dynamite,” Eminem with Rihanna’s “Love the Way You Lie”and Perry with Snoop Dogg’s “California Gurls.”
Top Rap Song: B.o.B with Mars’“Nothin’ On You,” B.o.B. with Williams’ “Airplanes,”
Eminem with Rihanna’s “Love The Way You Lie,” Far*East Movement with. Dev & The Cataracs’ “Like A G6″ and Nelly’s “Just A Dream.”
Top Radio Song: Mars’ “Just the Way You Are,” with Cruz’s “Dynamite,” Eminem with Rihanna’s “Love the Way You Lie,” Usher with Pitbull’s “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” and Usher with’s “OMG.”
Top Streaming Song (Audio): Mars’ “Just the Way You Are,”Cruz’s “Dynamite,” Eminem with Rihanna’s “Love the Way You Lie,” Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” and Nelly’s “Just a Dream.”
Top Pop Song Mars’ “Just the Way You Are,” Cruz’s “Dynamite,”Perry with Snoop Dogg’s “California Gurls,” Perry’s “Firework” and Perry’s “Teenage Dream.

Singer -composer Johnson, also of Hawaii, earned two nominations for his “To the Sea” album, in these categories:
Top Alternative Album: with The Black Keys’s “Brothers,”Kings of Leon’s “Come Around Midnight,” Linkin Park’s “A Thousand Suns”and Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh No More.”
Top Rock Album: with The Black Keys’“Brothers,” Kid Rock’s “Born Free,” Linkin Park’s “A Thousand Suns”and Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh No Mor.”
Details: Also, the awards are prominently showcased in social media sources:
on Twitter at or Facebook at

So do you predict Mars will win at least one, six, or 11 awards?

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