Archive for December, 2012

Five reasons to applaud Chai’s Island Bistro as it bids adieu

December 30th, 2012

With Chai’s Island Bistro closing New Year’s Eve — after 14 years at the Aloha Tower Marketplace — it’s time to bid a fond aloha to chef Chai Chaowasaree and his iconic restaurant.

Five reasons I’ll miss Chai’s — join me in a hearty round of applause for a job well done:

1 — The food has been iconic, daring, delicious — beautiful to look at, satisfying to the taste buds — with sauces and spices that were never dull. No wonder Hawaiian Airlines enlisted Chai to upgrade the inflight dining experience.

2 — Chai’s has been an incredible supporter of Island music from the opening — till the closing. Hapa was the first act featured there; so appropriately, Barry Flanagan (founder of Hapa) will be the final “star” attraction on New Year’s Eve. Chai’s gave work to so many troupers, then and now, from The Brothers Cazimero to Robert Cazimero as a soloist, with a melodious parade featuring the likes of Melveen Leed, Danny Couch, Nohelani Cypriano, Jerry Santos, and on and on and on. It’s been the rarest of restaurants to have shown this kind of aloha for the local entertainment community, adding “name” music to the dining menu. Bravo!

3 — Chai himself has been an invaluable and integral host to his restaurant, welcoming guests at the check-in desk with a personal hello, flying into the kitchen to tend to culinary matters, then returning up front. It’s never ever a bad idea for the namesake person to be on the front line and be the first person you see when you enter the restaurant. His presence indicates his commitment to his space and his customers.

4 — As you dined or sipped cocktails, you also had a window to people-watching; folks never failed to pause on the sidewalk and peer into the glass window, to see and hear and catch a moment of genuine aloha from the featured performer inside. A sideshow, for sure, and always impromptu; someone invariable would snap a photo from the outside.

5 — Chai’s has been the only restaurant at Aloha Tower to offer free validated parking for its customers; you tipped the valet, of course, but never had to pay the $10 valet fee.

We’ll miss you, Chai — and your Chai’s. And I was happy and excited to partake in one of the final nights with Robert Cazimero and his boutique hula dancers, male and female, who augmented his from-the-piano vocals last Friday (Dec. 27).
Yes, there was a bit of after-Christmas cheer via holiday tunes; and yes, plenty of solo and group hula and mele and chorale singing to the Cazimero catalogue. “Waika” typified the sustained artistry, reminiscent of a Hawaii Theatre concert or a Lei Day to-do at the Waikiki Shell.
“It’s been bittersweet — and it hit me this week that the end is near,” Chai told me.
Aloha, Chai’s, and mahalo for a terrific run. And cheers to another successful destination when Chef Chai’s opens early next year at Honolulu Pacifica, at Kapiolani Boulevard and Ward Avenue.

Theater community mourns passing of makeup whiz Greg Howell

December 28th, 2012

Hawaii’s theater community is mourning the death of Greg Howell, an award-winning actor on stage and a versatile wizard backstage.
Howell, known for his inventive and creative wig and makeup design, died Christmas Eve following a courageous nine-months battle with cancer.
Close friends were at his side at his passing.
Howell was a much-liked actor who had a passion for makeup and wig design. Over the years, his artistry has won him laurels both for his acting and his theatric designs.
He had been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma B-cell cancer, and his illness led to months of hospitalization and treatments.
While he graced the stages and backroom quarters of several theater companies in Honolulu, he was most active as a hair and makeup artist for a decade and a half at Manoa Valley Theatre, performing in such diverse plays as “Deathtrap,” “Tuesdays With Morrie,” “Fully Committed,” “The Rocky Horror Show,” and “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” For “Committed,” Howell played 40 roles, and ultimated earned a Po’okela Award for his acting.
“This is a great loss for the theater and Hawaii’s theatrical community,” said Dwight Martin, producing director of MVT. “He touched many people with his unending talent and charm.”
Because of the cancer, Howell, whose livelihood was with the Paul Brown Salon and Spa, Howell was unable to continue his regimen of involvement in stage shows, either on or off.
He last appeared in an MVT production in the ensemble for 2011’s award-winning “August: Osage County,” and his last show as a hair and makeup stylist of “Spring Awakening,” earlier this year.
In the 2012 Po’okela Awards, bestowed by the Hawaii State Theatre Council’s, Howell earned the Pierre Bowman Award for lifetime achievement in the performing arts, notably for his hair and makeup artistry.
Besides MVT, he worked with The Actors Guild and Army Community Theatre, among others.
His circle of theater friends have staged a couple of fund-raising shows to help him with mounting costs, and Howell attended the last one at Paliku Theatre despite his pain and discomfort.
A celebration of his life is tentatively set from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at Manoa Valley Theatre. It is open to his friends and extended theatrical family. Details will be announced shortly.

An expanded Christmas 'Show Biz,' for you loyal Mr. and Ms. ...

December 23rd, 2012

'Twas the night before Christmas
And throughout the 'aina
Santa Claus was feeling
Like one generous kamaaina.

He had presents to share
For the young and the old;
Some gifts were plain fun,
A few precious, like gold.

For President Obama
Our most famous local-born;
A Kailua family vacation
After fiscal-cliffing night and morn.

For Peter Carlisle a dance studio
To teach "Gangnam Style;"
He'll need a job after losing
The primary vote by a mile.

For mayor-elect Kirk Caldwell, faith
In the challenge called rail;
For Ben Cayetano, hope;
Is it the end of his trail?

For poor former governor
And candidate Linda Lingle
A tip: avoid "you know me"
In your next election jingle.

For Senator Inouye, final aloha, mahalo
For his long reign in Congress;
For Colleen, Tulsi, Mazie?
Go geev ‘em — and God bless.

For Manti Te’o
A football cast in gold.
His life on and off the gridiron
Should be all sport heroes’ mold.

For “Five-0”s” Alex O'Loughlin
A savvy scriptwriting crew,
To fix the troubled procedural
With a zestier, savory brew.

And hook ‘em, Danno
For the “Victoria’s Secret” tale;
That fashion plate placement
For Scott Caan? In a word, stale.

A return-pass to Hawaii
For the “Hunger Game” crew;
Hey, Jennifer Lawrence and cast:
A work-free vacation is due.

A thunderous hurrah
For Kailua’s Cliffton Hall.
He’s an asset in “Wicked”
Judging from his curtain call.

For those boosters, like moi
Of the musical “Les Miz;”
Since the movie is here,
Santa bring back the play, please?

For Chai Chaowasaree
A state-of-the-art stove,
To keep the kaukau coming
From his culinary trove.

For Robert and Roland
AKA The Brothers Caz;
A showroom or a lounge
To share their razz-ma-tazz.

A bill of clean health
For Kit Samson, Jimmy Borges;
On keyboard, in vocals
One’s nimble, one’s gorgeous.

For Hapa a new album
And more concerts abroad;
For Manoa DNA, ditto,
And why not a Hoku reward?

Another “Kawaipunahele”
For Maui’s Keali’i Reichel;
That would trigger airplay, sales
To help ring that Grammy bell.

Something simple and joyous
For Kuana Torres Kahele;
More raves, more conquests
And, of course, mele.

For pop dude Bruno Mars,
A glide into movies;
His fans adore his videos,
So why not screen groovies?

Nothing like a touring hit
For Mary Gutzi, Cathy Foy;
And a role for Jason Tam
Would bring him real joy!

A Broadway return, too,
For Loretta Ables Sayre;
For Greg Powell, Randy Hongo
Something divine, like prayer.

For Amy Hanaiali’i?
A stage musical role; Whee!
More strength, speedy recovery
For “Moment’s” Emme T.

A Hall of Fame recognition
For Nabors and Bright;
Might as well add Sakuma;
All have indelible artistic might.

For Jack and Cha Thompson
Who trekked to New York, Hong Kong this year;
More restful vacation trips
To keep the mind clear.

For Taimane Gardner
A sliver of international fame.
If not the show circuit
Perhaps the commercial game?

For young whiz Aiden James
A gold-crusted ukulele;
And statewide bookings
Via Hawaiian and Mokulele.

For Jake Shimabukuro,
(A new father this year);
May he strum more gentle ditties,
Sans weeping, just cheer.

For MRC Greenwood,
What else, a Stevie Wonder ticket!
Not here! Mainland!
Or should she see "Wicked"?

For author Fran Kakugawa
And her fictional mouse Wordsworth.
More tree-planting, real and in fiction
Would yield a greener Earth.

A selfish wish to relocate
To Oahu, please, Willie K?
So he can readily serenade us
All night and all day.

Exclusive comedy fraternity
Inauguration for Andy,
For Frank, Jim and Mel,
For Augie, that’s dandy!

For the Arcadia's Ciones
That's Jack and Maydelle:
Another Neighbor Isle cruise
Would surely be swell.

For the Makaha Sons
Healing time for their loss;
For Carole Kai, Ms. Busy,
A T-shirt reading “Boss.”

For Eddie Sherman airtime
To share his new show;
For Karen Keawehawaii?
Hair florals that glow.

For Tony and his SOS
A stab at regrouping;
And the Outrigger showroom?
A time for recouping.

For Jordan Segundo
And Jasmine Trias renewal;
With “American Idol” behind you
Why not a duet jewel?

For Gabe Baltazar, Rene Paulo
May your music never cease.
Rock on Henry Kapono
For Cecilio, well, peace.

Another “Honolulu City Lights”
For composer Keola Beamer;
For all wannabe troupers
Never stop being a dreamer.

For foodies Millie and Fran
Destinations with parking;
New magical tricks
In John Hirokawa’s stocking

For singer Melveen Leed
Continued marital bliss.
After all, she's Da Tita
And a trouper still not to miss.

For Billy V, Al Waterson
More emceeing gigs;
For Pacleb and Daniels
Great choreographing jigs.

For Jerry Santos, Eddie Kamae
‘Ilima and pikake lei;
For years of great music
The real Hawaiian way.

For Keith and Carmen
For Ron and for Frank;
May your music never stop
All the way to the bank.

Another acting reunion
For Pat Sajak and Joe Moore;
Though they both have day jobs
A crisp script would be a lure.

For TV anchors Ching,
Tucker, Okita, Lum,

Choi, Yamada, Akana, Young
High ratings, ol’ chum.

For early wakers Joaquin,
Uyehara, Matthews, Heu,

Cunningham, Richardson,
What else? Hot coffee, fresh brew.

For Audy Kimura jingles
To add to his creds;
To all show bizzers a tax break
But be wary of the feds.

For Alan (Takasaki and Wong)
Bev, Roy, Russell, Mavro:
Local ingredients, full houses,
Ono food — and a big bravo!

For all the actors, backstagers
Who bring theater alive.
A wish for more donors
To keep the tradition alive.

For Joy Abbott a swing
At golf without pain.
For Jay Larrin, reflection
Down memory lane.

For Tom Moffatt stars
For another nostalgic show
Four Seasons? Four Tops,
Bobby Rydell all aglow.

To all faithful readers,
You Mr. and Ms.;
Good wishes, glad tidings
And that’s Christmas “Show Biz.” ...


An abbreviated version of this annual Christmas column appeared in print. Wayne Harada’s "Show Biz" column appears Sundays in the paper; to reach him, call 266-0926 or e-mail Show and Tell Hawaii is a regular blog at

You don't have to travel for current Broadway fare

December 21st, 2012

Lucky you live Hawaii, because two current Broadway musical hits are playing on Island stages this holiday season.
One is “Wicked,” the perennial favorite on the Great White Way, which is ensconced at the Blaisdell Concert Hall through Jan. 12. A national touring company — this one is as good as it gets —is perhaps better for our local folks, because it features a homegrown actor in one of the lead roles.
The other is “Annie,” at Diamond Head Theatre through Dec. 30. It was included in this season’s slate of shows, well before a Broadway revival was launched in New York about a month ago, so the musical is as timely as ever — its vintage message about hope and optimism amid a season of Depression and pessimism still rings truths and touches nerves for the current generation of spectators.
Both are splendid holiday family-friendly fare, with gifts to spare.
In “Wicked,” a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz,” you’ll see elements of Dorothy’s colleagues the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion and learn why Elphaba, the Wicked Witch played by Dee Roscioli is green, and also meet the good witch Glinda portrayed by Patti Murin — well before the Oz of Dorothy’s fantasy and adventure immortalized in film.
Further, Kailuan Cliffton Hall stars as Fiyero, the princely leading man in the tale, who brings handsomeness and romance to the forefront. In character, he’s grand, he’s ambitious, perhaps lacking humility like Lancelot in “Camelot,” but those cheers are genuine, as many locals remember him from numerous productions under his high school era mentor, Ron Bright.
“Wicked” here has most of the wow factor of the original; the costumes and sets are eye-filling, and while the monkeys fly, they do so only in the confines of the airspace of the stage, not over the audience, as on Broadway. But no matter; there’s spectacle and splendid intrigue to spare, from start to finish. Caution: the very young may get a bit spooked by the theatrics.
By comparison, “Annie” doesn’t have all that sparkle and pizzazz with its hard-knock life ensemble of orphans led by Riley Newton as the titular character, but it does have spunky spirit and a relevant theme of a shaky economy and the see-sawing quotient of the rich vs. the poor.
The show, set in the 1930s of New York City, provides Lisa Konove (Miss Hannigan) another opportunity to strut her comic stuff, but also enables Autumn Ogawa, who played the carrot-topped tyke with a frizzy wig when she was a child, to return to the musical as Grace, the aide to Daddy Warbucks (Chris Gritti), a tycoon of his time who ultimately adopts Annie. But not before hucksters Rooster Hannigan (Drew Tandal) and Lily St. Regis (Leiney Rigg) attempt a scam to collect a fortune as fraudulent parents of Annie. It's a catalogue of old-fashioned fantasy figures, based on the comics cartoon, that resonates when the stage lights go on, forming a bond between on-stage and backstage amateurs with professional pride.
While there’s a Christmas scene, there are no holiday tunes in this one — but the songs endure, notably “Tomorrow,” “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” and “Maybe.”
So: you don’t have to trek to New York — and encounter the crowded airplanes and airports and winter chill — to see two current shows. They’re here. If you can secure last-minute tickets.

Times vary; Tuesdays through Sundays, through Jan.12
Blaisdell Concert Hall

Times vary, Thursdays through Sundays, through Dec. 30
Diamond Head Theatre

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'Five-0’ in a merry mood now, but the worry comes later

December 18th, 2012

“Hawaii Five-0” is having a merry Christmas in the weekly TV ratings.
Last week, it topped the Monday 9 p.m. (10 p.m. Mainland) numbers with not-so-threatening competition.
This week (Dec. 17), the CBS series did a hana hou – outdrawing the weak rivals that included a “Castle” rerun on ABC, its prime threat.
So it’s a joyful, triumphant time, with the faithful aboard to cheer the tidings of the season.
The episode, “Kahu,” had a Christmas theme and even a makeshift Santa, with “Five-0” pulling in 10.29 million viewers, compared to 5.4 million for the repeat of “Castle” and 4.51 million for NBC’s “Take It All.” NBC has tabled “Revolution” till next year, which gives “Five-0” a chance to breathe, reconnoiter, recoil.
But again, it was a case of victory without real challengers. Reruns, after all, normally attract fewer diehards who seek out other fare, possibly on cable. Or maybe folks were deep into Christmas shopping and putting the tube on the burner.
No matter, a win is a win, and at least “Five-0” logged a double-digit million figure.
Even the 18 to 49 demo, at 2.4, was won by “Five-0,” though the tally was down a skosh from a week again.
Yes, it’s still a win.
In this week’s episode, a boy in trouble revs up Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and George Takei shows up in a star trek of sorts, playing an uncle from the past, along with more recurring characters than necessary in a script light on intrigue and heavy on fatigue. The revelation: the “Five-0” ohana continues to grow.
The holidays, after all, is a time for reflection, a time for celebration, a time for family.
So: party now. Worry later.
Expect reruns the next few weeks, which means ratings will take a traditional dip.
Then the real work and the riveting issues return. How to find the old magic of restoring the sagging ratings and reputation of the series? How to galvanize the polish the reputation of our home-brewed series.
Or does anybody care much anymore outside the hard core fanship?

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