By Wayne Harada
So why, and who’s, the missing link in the one-shy Society of Seven, back for a limited run at the Outrigger Waikiki’s Main Showroom?
SOS diehards remember Elika Santos, who was the focal point with the act, who debuted with the act last year.
But since late last year, his whereabouts has been a mystery.
No one really knows — especially his colleagues in the show band, who expected Santos on the Mainland, was a no-show prior to the holidays. The group never filled the vacant slot; band founder and leader Tony Ruivivar tended to his cancer treatment, surgery and recuperation; little was said publicly about Santos’ absence and the buzz turned to murmurs.
Thus, the group now is a Society of Six through its July 2 residency. And although guest artists Martin Nievera and neophyte Arshiel are on stage, they are not factored in the head count.
Ruivivar doesn’t talk about it much, except that local singer Santos — who was touted as the resident crooner and sex symbol in the act — hadn’t even contacted his family about his strange disappearance.
Sure, his absence in the lineup is noticeable — only if you’re an avid SOS follower. Santos held his own as an impressionist; he surely was a belter, with some theatrical background here, bringing the SOS to a new threshold, especially with his renderings of Journey power ballads.
But that was then; this is now.
The SOS, if nothing else, is irrepressible and resilient, moving onward and forward amid a history of change and challenges.
The current show is a nostalgic stroll through familiar SOS turf (impressions, Broadway excerpts, visual comedy) but offers an opportunity welcome back Ruivivar in all his glory after his cancer battle last year and also a chance to reconnect with Nievera, who grew up watching his dad, Roberto Nievera, while growing up watching his musical “uncles.”
Besides Ruivivar, the group includes Bert Sagum, Wayne Wakai, Hoku Low, Roy Venturina and Vince Mendoza, who all look relaxed and thrilled to be on the Outrigger stage again. They prance and frolic with expected charm, with Sagum up to his old tricks — with gay abandon — just like old times. There’s plenty of comedy, and the serious vocal solos are left for the “nephew” in residence and the 16-year-old Farrington songbird who has earned her stripes among the SOS vets.
Nievera corrals his trademark songs from the past (“Say That You Love Me,” “Be My Lady”) but also dusts off his dad’s iconic “Walk Away” showstopper. He’s smooth, satisfying and validating — a biggie in the Philippines region (he's dubbed "the Concert King of the Philppines" with an international following, with charm to spare. He’s answered the SOS call to fill the vocal void and
he’s most gratified about performing at home again.
THE SOCIETY OF SEVEN
WITH MARTIN NIEVERA
8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, through July 2
Outrigger Waikiki Main Showroom