Archive for June, 2011

Borges breaks silence about his liver cancer

June 14th, 2011

When singer Jimmy Borges innocently posted a Facebook message a few months back, that he had liver cancer, he wasn’t prepared for the swarm of concern, interest and support.
And talk.
He also had discreetly called a few close friends, to share the news, but was content with keeping his personal affairs under the radar. He was wary of going “public” with his situation, for obvious reasons. Rumors and chatter surfaced.
He had confided in me and a few others about his dilemma and his understandable fear, and I had suggested he contact Tony Ruivivar, founder-performer in the Society of Seven group, since Ruivivar had successfully battled his own liver cancer ordeal. The resulting chat was not only inspirational, but educational —Borges learned of the power of prayer and the value of determined support from those who truly care about him.
I also had cautioned Jeremiah — that’s what I call him, and that’s how he signs his e-mails and voicemails — you know, like in“Jeremiah was a bullfrog,” in Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World” hit — of the dangers and risks of total silence about his condition, because of the nature of gossip. It's a small town, after all, and the entertainment community is very much connected.
A couple of weeks into treatment — after Borges underwent chemotherapy to shrink the cancer in his liver – he discovered there was mounting misinformation out there. On Twitter. In conversations. He heard what others might have spread— some untruths.
“I was naïve concerning misinformation being spread, fostering questions,” he said in an e-mail last week.
So he decided it was time to go public about his situation, simultaneously thanking those who have brought him unfathomable comfort and kokua — namely, the likes of Ruivivar and Bert Sagum, another founder of the SOS .
“Tony beat his (cancer), like I’m hoping to beat mine,” said the determined Borges.
And he’s so appreciative of his circle of boosters.
“My angel of a wife, Vicki, who is one of the Governor’s (Gov. Neil Abercrombie) schedulers, comes home every lunch hour to check on me, and my daughter Steffanie, and my son-in-law Randy, flew in from L.A. to help take care of ‘daddy’ for two weeks,” said Borges.
The other day, Borges’ long-time pal and frequent collaborator in shows, Shari Lynn, brought over
“her famous Jewish chicken soup for me, guaranteed to cure everything.”
And Ruivivar, who made Borges an honorary eighth member of the Society of Seven in the 1970s when Borges was performing at Keone’s Lounge on Lewers Street, shoots him a daily reassuring text-message prayer every day.
“They’re so personal and meaningful,” said Borges. “Tony gives me so much strength and determination. He’s so special in my heart.”
And so is Jeremiah — special in the hearts of many ... one of the truly beloved class-act entertainers in our town.
The jazz singer had canceled some gigs when he was diagnosed with the cancer; he's starting to schedule performances later this year. So the adage is true: The show must go on.

Martin Nievera recalls the SOS, then and now

June 12th, 2011

For entertainer Martin Nievera, teaming up with his Society of Seven “uncles” in a dream-come-true homecoming engagement starting Tuesday (June 14) at the Outrigger Waikiki Showroom, it’s going to be both a flashback and a flash-forward.
For three weeks, through July 2, Nievera will make his first-ever limited-run Island appearance with the classic SOS, the enduring combo co-founded by Tony Ruivivar and Bert Sagum, in the Waikiki showroom that also was a showcase for his dad, Roberto Nievera, a previous SOS regular.
The club was kind of a playground during his growing-up years in Honolulu — prodding him to eventually jump-start his musical career. “What sticks to my mind more than anything else is how every show and every rehearsal I saw made me dream to becoming a singer myself,” said Nievera. “Most kids at the young age of 7 back then only dreamed of toys or being an extra on ‘Hawaii 5-0’ or ‘Checkers and Pogo;’ maybe even ‘Romper Room.’ Thanks to my uncles and my dad, I dreamed only of one thing: Being a singer. So to be on stage in the classroom with the professors and apply all I have learned and dreamed of will be an experience words alone could never explain.”
But the gig could open future doors for Nievera, who has been expressing desires to stake roots in Waikiki someday. If the chemistry works, and if market conditions change and if he seriously relocates and sets his anchor in Honolulu, who knows?
Still known as the Concert King of the Philippines, where Nievera has earned superstar status due to a string of hit movies and his own TV series, the troubadour with a voice and charm has tried — with modest success — to build a career bridging his Filipino heritage and his aspirations to Make It in the United States.
He’s played in venues all over America, from Las Vegas to New York, and Hawaii always has been a magnet to come home again.
And reuniting with Ruivivar and Sagum, in the showroom where he has played as a solo artist, brings his dreams full circle.
Even if he has to do some classic SOS shtick, like donning wigs and gowns to mimick songstresses of the past, Nievera is a player.
“I did that Supremes bit in the Flamingo and in the Muckleshoot Casino very recently,” said Nievera of his Mainland gigs with the SOS where impressions loom big. “Not my cup of tea, to segue from drag to my recorded hits ... plus the shoes were not Christian Louboutin, so forget it,” he joked.
As a fan in the audience, Nievera has seen it all. “The thoughts that race through my head are those happier days,” he reflected. “From Uncle Danny (the late Danny Ruivivar, kid brother of Tony Ruivivar) wearing his underwear on his head, to the silly cut-out flowers that Uncle Bert and dad used to wear to hide the ‘details’ on their chest,” it’s been fun throughout the decades."
After all, Nievera said the SOS are dedicated, tireless troupers. “There is no performer, no singing group I know, that sincerely love performing more than the Society of Seven,” he said. “They never tire; they never slow down. They don’t want to. Ever. They own a formula for a show that pleases almost everyone; sometimes I feel they live and breathe only ‘for the gig.’’
Does he fear returning to the 2011 Waikiki landscape, which has greatly changed since his last solo engagement in the 1990s?
“The truth? None,” he said. “Only excitement.”
With shifting changes in the showroom front, not just here about abroad, he remembers his status and his fate: He is the son of an SOSer, committed to the genre of putting on a good show in venues different from what he's accustomed to back in the Philippines: larger productions in expansive showspaces.
“With both feet on the ground, I now believe there is no show too big or too small for me. Just like the SOS,” he said.
Fatherhood has also altered his life and his views.
“As much as I have always wanted my kids to dream their own dreams, I would be humbled and blessed if they followed my footsteps,” said Nievera, who has three sons, two with ex-wife and singer Pops Fernandez, who are remembered by their Hawaii fans.
“All three sons sing very well, but it’s my eldest Robin, who is now hosting a music video show in Manila, as well as recording his first CD,” he said, sounding like a mighty contented pop. “His is on tour right nowwith me; we are touring the East and West Coast, as well as Canada. I am very proud of him.”
And what if, he could become part of the Society of Eight, or Society of Seven Plus One, or any reimagined version of the classic show band — though there have been no formal talks. Would his ego adapt and change?
“My ego? Well, what’s left of it, anyway. Sure, why not? Then I could control my pace and maybe move back to Hawaii," he said. "Even my fans would love to move here with me. Who wouldn’t?”
So what do you think, if Nievera had the option to become a regular fixture in the Society of Seven?


Also featuring Arshiel
Opening at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday (June 14) ; continuing at 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, through July 2
Main Showroom, Outrigger Waikiki Hotel
Reservations: 923-7469 or 922-6408

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For Anthony Hopkins, it’s Wolfgang’s for steak

June 10th, 2011

Sir Anthony Hopkins, the Oscar-winning actor who played Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs,” dined in the private room at Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener the other night.
He was with a small group of friends at a dinner hosted by Higgins Harte International Galleries, which has locations in Hawaii.
The galleries are the exclusive agent for actor Hopkins, who has become an artworld sensation with his “killer canvases,” derived from broad, thick strokes of paint with a knife. Higgens Harte also represents other high-profile artists like Anthony Quinn, Christian Lassen and Woodrow Nash.
Hopkins also is currently playing the eye-patched Odin, father of Chris Hemsworth, in the Marvel Comics superhero film, “Thor.”
Wolfgang’s general manager Bill Nickerson greeted a warm and cordial Hopkins when he arrived for the private dinner; two guards posted at the doors of the facility assured privacy.

‘One Noddah Time’ revived noddah time

June 9th, 2011

The late Lisa Matsumoto’s “Once Upon One Noddah Time,” part of her franchise of local-style pidgin-English reinventions of classic fairy tales and characters, will return for one noddah time at Kennedy Theatre June 8 through 24.
The musicals, scripted by the late playwright with songs by Roslyn Catracchia, will be a co-presentation of Matsumoto’s ‘Ohi’a Productions and the University of Hawaii-Manoa Outreach College.
Further, Tammy Montgomery, a retired professor at UH who collaborated with Matsumoto in shaping the “Once Upon One Time” series, will return to her previous play space, co-directing the production with Patrick Fujioka, one of the founding members of Matsumoto’s expansive company of players. He is best known for his portrayal of Da Mean Mongoose.
The production embraces Island-style reimaginations of “Da Tree Local Pigs,” “Da Hagemogi Fairy,” “Da Mean Mongoose” and “Da Wicked Queen.” The dialogue and songs are peppered with pidgin English; hence, the show have been legendary in local theater, with productions staged at venues ranging from Manoa Valley Theatre to Hawaii Theatre, from Kennedy Theatre to Diamond Head Theatre.
Curtain times: 7:30 p.m. July 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23, with 2 p.m. matinees July 10, 17 and 24
Tickets: $10 to $22 in advance, $15 to $27 at the door, so early purchase makes sense; on sale at or 944-2697.

Glenn Cannon salute: six decades of shows

June 8th, 2011

A Glenn Cannon celebration, saluting the longtime director-actor and a former president of the Hawaii chapter of the Screen Actors Guild, will be held from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. July 12 at the Manoa Valley Theatre.
Cannon, a University of Hawaii professor since 1968, just directed the Hawaii premiere of Tracy Letts’ award-winning drama, “August: Osage County,” on the MVT stage.
He tells me he plans to retire from the UH after the next academic year — but clearly, he seems he’ll never hang up his acting boots nor director’s cap.
His colleagues and friends will toast him and recall his years of dedicated service and performance.
Tickets: $40 general, $25 for union members and students; on sale at Admission includes food; no-host bar service will be available.
Cannon, whose career in acting and directing spans six decades and taps the Broadway stage, network televsion and Island-filmed series such as the original “Hawaii Five-0” and “Magnum P.I.” on CBS and the more recent “Lost” on ABC.
His bi-coastal credits also include live network TV series such as “Studio One Hollywood,” “Playwrights ’56,” and “Hallmark Hall of Fame” in New York, and such projects as “77 Sunset Strip,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Outer Limits” in Los Angeles. He also has toured in musicals and dramas ranging from “West Side Story” to “Tea and Sympathy.”
From 1965 to 1968, he was resident actor-director-teacher at the Stanford Repertory Theatre, an Equity company comprised of nine actors. He joined the University of Hawaii theater faculty in 1968, where he has been since relocating to the Islands and building his film resume with TV’s “Tour of Duty,” “Jake and the Fatman” and “Island Son,” and such filmed-in-Hawaii features as “Miracle Landing” and “Picture Bride.”
He has acted in and directed scores of community theater productions and amassed nearly a dozen Po’okela Awards from the Hawaii State Theatre Council.
He has been a SAG member since 1957, a member of Actors’ Equity since 1955, a member of the American American Federation of Television and Radio Artists since 1956.
If you have a particular memory of or experience with Cannon — as educator, actor or director — you may share your recollections here.

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