The Brothers Cazimero went island-hopping in the last of this season’s Hana Hou series of Hawaiian music concerts Friday night (March 23) at the Hawaii Theatre, and what a passport of fun it was.
It was Robert and Roland’s most mixed bag of outings, loaded with a sense of place, with a variety of melodies, inspired by cultures of the world.
Some were very obvious, some not so; some unlikely, some very personal.
By the end, it was an excursion into the act’s ingenious staging creativity, coupled with producer Burton White’s production savvy, resulting in a parcel of merit and marvel.
It started out with a somewhat gratuitous “island” sandwich of ono nibbles, including “Islands in the Stream” and “Island Style.” By the time the journey ended, the show tappedmemories of yesteryear served up with dedication and loyalty; there was the usual dollop of comedy, but featured a savory measure of cultural traditions from hither and yon.
The agenda included eye-filling hula with ear-filling taiko drumming, plus choruses of sung-and-dance Broadway hits to a whole segment of costumed and signature songs and dances from Tahiti.
Oh yes, and a splendid taste of Japan favorites, Nippon-style and island-style. Mostly rendered by the bros, Robert’s Halau Na Kamalei O Lililehua, and the Ladies of the Royal Dance Company, but with splendid guest appearances from troupers ranging from hula stylists to singers to musicians.
The itinerary included:
• Hawaii — With the world at stake, there was just a smidgin of Hawaiiana to keep the hometowners happy, like “Hidden Valleys” and “Mai Lohilohi Mai Oe.” The goal was bigger: global.
• Great Britain — An unexpected medley of Beatles tunes, served in the duo’s signature style, with piano (Robert) and bass (Roland) accompaniment, created an aural lei of diverse ditties, like “Yesterday,” “She Loves You,” “Yellow Submarine,” “When I’m Sixty-Four,” “Michelle,” “Hey Jude,” “Let It Be,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” and “And I Love Her.” To link Hawaii with England, the duo dusted off Queen Liliuokalani’s “The Queen’s Jubilee,” composed in honor of Queen Victoria’s jubilee, when Lili’u was a princess visiting London along with honor monarchs, and it was a fitting bridge.
• Tahiti — In Tihati Productions fashion, the Caz staged a mini-spectacle of Tahitian otea, with all the nuances and accoutrements of South Seas syncopation, with a solo dance by Moea DeFries, plus a dance by the gents inspired by the Hokule’a voyage to Tahiti; the piece de resistance was the soul-whirling, hip-shaking, skirt-swishing numbers (“Tu Pae Pae” and “Tera Mai,”), costumed in exquisite white, and the demonstrative percussion work to keep the rhythms rolling and thumping.
• Japan — A guest ensemble shared more culture with an interlude of taiko drumming, which also involved choreographic twists. The Nippon visit enabled a Caz vocal of “Sakura,” the familiar cherry blossom song, with understated tranquility and beauty, and a spirited, even tongue in cheek update of a popular post-war hit song, “Can Can Musume, with Kaipo Hale and Tommy Akana taking turns on the verses, with more cultural synthesis involving local vs. Japan dancers “competing,” in “The Voice”-inspired dance run-off that might been dubbed “The Odori (Dance).”
• Manhattan — The “island” of New York, one of Robert’s choice destinations, was a natural pause, beginning with his solo on “I’ll Take Manhattan,” the hula gents’ vocalizing on “On Broadway,” and a twice-rendered (in a double tribute to Loretta Ables Sayres in “South Pacific”) “Happy Talk” vocal and dance, with requisite hand movements. Some enchanted moment!
• Island of Me — In an introspective show-closing segment, Roland and Robert took separate turns “becoming” an island, or a pebble that can become a rock, with growth and vision and movement and life. “I am a rock, I am an island,” they sang, each becoming a Rushmore of sorts with figurative power and presence.
The stage was island-like, with foliage a-plenty, punctuated by seven faux golden palm trees, two on one side of the stage, five on the other side, framing the performers with the back wall occasionally bathed in brighter-than-life pinks and blues and more.
Like a vacation where the pleasures and treasures abound, the “trip” ended far too soon, and in true Cazimero fashion, they make you wanting more ... till the next trek.
If you had the wisdom to have been there, you were rewarded with a remarkable global hop. If not, hard luck!