Archive for January, 2013

Football playoff lead-in pays off for 'Hawaii Five-0'

January 21st, 2013

Football helped “Hawaii Five-0” score in its special Sunday (Jan. 20) screening.
CBS' coverage of the Baltimore Colts vs. New England Patriots was a powerful and profitable lead-in for "Five-0," giving the island show a real kick in the preliminary overnight Nielsen ratings.
As the network series tapped "Five-0" in the post-game spot, Team Five-0 hurled into the winner’s circle, just like the Baltimore Colts. The game attracted 12.90 million viewers and a 3.4 rating in the 18 to 49 demographics and a 10 share.
So on this special occasion, lead-in was key; the football game drew a stunning 41.53 million viewers and a 14.6 rating in the key demos.
The episode, entitled “Olelo Ho’opa’i Make (Death Penalty),” focused on Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim), in an unbearable position: in prison, with requisite uniform — an Agent Orange, if you will — amid cons he helped book.
His grief about wife Malia comes into play along the way, perhaps on par with his dread about his prospects behind bars. And Jason Scott Lee was among the notable guest stars.
So will this momentum score big again, with another new “Five-0” episode airing Monday night (Jan. 21), with the usual Monday comedy series as lead-in?
“Hana I Wa Ia” is the new episode title, with Kealii Reichel among the guest stars.
But the competition for viewers will be keen — and minus a championship footballer as a lead-in.
ABC’s timeslot leader, “Castle,” airs a fresh episode, and both are threatened by “Deception,” a hot new NBC whodunit with soap opera prowess and appeal.
What are you going to watch?

Don't bring home 'Les Miz' highlights disc; it's miserable

January 18th, 2013

Tip: If you adore “Les Miserables,” on stage or on film, here’s a warning. Avoid the “Les Miz” movie soundtrack on Universal Republic, which arrived before Christmas.
It is a major disappointment — not because of the vocals, but because of the extensive omissions. Why so many exclusions? It’s a misery and a mystery.
The new CD is honestly touted as a “Highlights” album, so you’d expect trims. It looks like any respectable audio memento of a film or play, but one run-through and you’ll be alarmed with such severe editing and aborted material. In short, the album is a lowlight in “Les Miz” history.
Let me count the ways:
• The Broadway cast CD has two discs; 16 tracks on disc one, 18 tracks on disc two.
• The movie soundtrack CD is a single-disc curiosity; it has 20s tracks.
Do the math: a heck of a lot of material has been unjustly cut. So what if it’s half the price of the two-disc keepsake; a bargain it ain’t.
Even the tracks remaining have been subject to some editing, meaning if you’re familiar with the songs, you’ll be horrified and mortified. A number you like may be among the shortcut version.
Oh, the biggies are here, with much of the screen glory intact: Fantine (Anne Hathaway) is pretty much intact with “I Dreamed a Dream,” though the lyrical intro isn’t as inviting and involving as the stage original. Happily, the piece de resistance of the film.
In: Young Cosette’s (Isabelle Allen) “Castle on a Cloud.” Tres bien.
Out: Gavroche’s “Look Down” and “Little People.” Quel dommage.
In: “Suddenly,” the fresh new insert by Valjean (Jackman), understandably a selling point for anyone eager to get every bit of “Les Miz” biz-ness. C’est magnique!
Out: “A Little Fall of Rain,” the eloquent Eponine-Marius (Samantha Barks, Eddie Redmayne) duet, when she is dying in the arms of the beau she couldn’t have. Mon dieu!
“Bring Him Home,” Jean Valjean’s (Hugh Jackman) potent ballad is here, so somebody had the smarts not to snip or meddle.
All I can say is don’t bring home this “Highlights” package. You’ll be mostly devastated, disappointed and dismayed.
Wait for the full complete version? Perhaps; but no word yet if one will be released.
The only option? Wait for the DVD of the film. Who knows? There could be bonus behind-the-scenes extras and interviews.

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'Les Miz:' Film vs. stage — and 10 ways they succeed

January 16th, 2013

Which is better —“Les Miserables,” the film version now in theaters, or the original hit still running in London but not on Broadway?
That’s the question for “Les Miz” devotees, who probably know every song in the score, from previous productions, CDs or DVDs.
The film, certainly, has star power — Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean has the role of a lifetime in the show of a lifetime, and he brings emotion, depth, power and energy to the protagonist. Oscar buzz is real. He's already nabbed a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical.
And the movie (a dark horse for Best Picture) is peopled with other ammo — Anne Hathaway as Fantine, a surefire Best Supporting Actress in the upcoming Academy Awards, eliciting tears and seething with empathy; Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert, subdued and hampered with some vocal deficiencies; Amanda Seyfried, as a lyrical and sweetly delicate Cosette. Two lesser-known film revelations (but not for long) include Eddie Redmayne as the freckle-faced lovestruck Marius and Samantha Banks as the devoted Eponine with a painful crush on Marius.
The original stage production boasted Colm Wilkinson as Valjean and Terrance Mann as Javert, and touring versions here of the Tony-winning musical featured the indelible and dependable Craig Schulman as Valjean and the manly and menacing Merwin Foard as Javert. Even Diamond Head Theatre produced a stunning and memorable version, with Peter Lockyer as Valjean, so the "Les Miz" land- and soundscape are verh familiar.
I’ve seen the film twice so far and have become somewhat of a fanatic of the stage version after more than two dozen visits, mostly in Honolulu but also on Broadway and in Canada.
So how does live-on-stage compare with oversized film spectacle?
Let's evaluate and review the voltage of each version ...

10 Reasons Why The Stage Is Superior

1 — Turntable. The oversized lazy-Susan is the essence of “Les Miz.” Turning, turning, turning ... scenes and characters.
2— Barricade. Yep, that jumble of junk — old furniture, scrap boards, broken cabinets, etc. — is another trait of “Les Miz.” Part of the essential visual climate; dark and confusing with purpose.
3— Immediacy of the tension of dissent and hope, angst and pain, redemption and renewal in a proscenium stage. From the black box, a whole world — and war — emerges.
4— Colm Wilkinson on Broadway, Craig Schulman here, as Valjean. With voices that accompany their redemption spirit, suited to the role.
5— The Thenardier tavern scene. Far better, with the original interplay between Monsieur et Madam guiding the harmless crookedness.
6— “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” — haunting with “ghosts” (the vanquished soldiers) appearing while Marius sings. Emotional. Moving. Unforgettable.
7— Javert normally is cast with a performer with a lower, deeper voice tone and thus creates a much meaner and menacing presence. Especially on “Stars.”
8— The wedding scene: As uninvited guests to the nuptial celebration of Marius and Cosette, the Thenardiers — who steal silverware, remember? — are the poster people of folks you don’t want at your party.
9 — The red flag. It embodies the protesting students’ creed and portends their fate. “Red, the blood of angry men ... Red, the color of desire ... Red, a world about to dawn.” And on stage, the waving punctuates power.
10 — Do you see the people dance? On “One Day More” and the finale, “Do You Hear the People Sing,” the choreography — remember, this is a musical embracing dance, even with warfare — is yet another iconic trademark. Rhythmic. Rousing. Rapturous.

10 Reasons Why The Film Soars

1 — Fantine. Fantastic – desperate to provide for and save daughter Cosette. And Anne Hathaway is a runaway winner for Best Supporting Actress in the Oscars, to complement her Golden Globe statuette. Even with horrid hair, shorn live while singing and filming; but oh, what a touching “I Dreamed a Dream” centerpiece. (Sorry, Susan Boyles, your 15 minutes of fame is over; but you still have your hair).
2 — Grittier. This is, after all, a musical based on the French Revolution, and the revolt is mean, vicious, realistic — something the stage can’t replicate. As huge as Victor Hugo, the author on whose book the play/film are based, might have imagined.
3 —Vive le Valjean! You can’t get anyone better than Hugh Jackman, who looks great (except in the opening “Work Song” — “look down, look down” — where his weight loss and butchered hair buzz makes him appear to be the slave he is). Part of his appeal is his engaging presence, with that captivating voice.
4 — Colm Wilkinson as the bishop — the lone notable from the original stage cast, in a lesser but luminous cameo. (He’s the soul who defends the “thief” Valjean, who steals silverware from the church, and upon capture, throws in the candleholders, too).
5 — The Thenardier tavern scene. On film, you get to see those pickpocketing thieves in all their closeup glory, rooking the guests and making their haul; Sacha Baron Cohen and Helen Bonham Carter put their own spin on this segment. And how coincidental, to book two three-namers as “Masters of the House.”
6 — There’s an elephant aboard. Huge, eye-filling, and providing a hideaway for Gavroche, the street-smart kid. Nothing to do with the plot, but a dandy landmark in the warscape.
7 — A Javert with humanity – when he sees fallen soldiers after the final confrontation, he recognizes Gavroche among the dead, and takes his medal off his chest and places it on the body. Not a scene on stage, so this is a spot-on bonus. See, there's goodness in an evil spirit.
8 —Rain. On her “On My Own” number, Eponine (Samantha Banks) strolls, and rain falls, an effect not on stage, reflecting the lyrics (“In the rain, the pavement shines like silver”), and the rain becomes a river of tears of hurt and rejection.
9—Eponine and Marius. Banks is a certified “discovery” of awesome talent (and not surprisingly, she previously had a stab at the role on stage in London — and thus won the part from a field that included Taylor Swift and Lea Michelle.). And Eddie Redmayne is one of the most freckled newbies as Marius — with a sweet, sweet voice to boot.
10 — Bonus song. Jackman performs “Suddenly” in a coach, taking young Cosette from the Thenardiers to his own home. Not really a vital addition to the score, but a ballad that has been nominated for Best Song (lost to “Skyfall” in the Golden Globes), even if Adele and James Bond likely will pull another statuette for her trophy case.

Agree? Disagree?

With that non-vote 'Five-0' airing here, it feels like kaput

January 15th, 2013

That voting experiment on Monday’s “Hawaii Five-0” (Jan. 14) episode themed “Kapu” — Hawaiian for forbidden — was a decent idea that went nowhere, particularly since the homegrown audience, us locals, could not have a say in which one of three potential finales would be chosen in what supposedly was an online election of sorts.
Its intention was to generate interest, promote audience participation, boost the profile if you will, of the stagnant “Five-0” ratings.
So: A for effort, F for execution.
If you’re gonna do a vote, especially since this episode was hyped like it was the second coming of the show, let everyone everywhere have a say. We wuz robbed (or not -- would you really have voted?)
If Hawaii was going to get snubbed, the network should have simply omitted those pleas to vote for the ending here, the network should have just proceeded that this was a routine episode. Business as usual. By not allowing the Pacific vote, this was clearly a maligning act upon the hometowners.
What the ultimate ending was — to see whodunit — was immaterial. The whole operation was like the tail wagging the dog. A better plot — the episode was supposed to determine with audience kokua who murdered a university professor from a field of three suspects — might have generated a better, sensible challenge with a more satisfying result.
The proof is in the ratings, however, and the island-based CBS procedural did all right. Not spectacularly, but not poorly. Perhaps the operative word here is ... underwhelming.
In the preliminary overnight Nieslen ratings, “Five-0” pulled in 9.37 million viewers with a 2.4 rating in the key 18 to 49 adults demographics, besting ABC’s “Castle” (9.10 million viewers, 1.9 in the demos) and NBC’s “Deception” (4.16 million viewers, 1.6 rating in the demos).
So hurl out the orchid lei — the show won its time slot (9 p.m. here, 10 p.m. Mainland). But was this victory one to be proud of?
It’s wasn’t an out-of-the-park homer, but you take your wins where you can get it.
This was the episode that featured Janel Parrish, the local girl who was Young Cosette in “Les Miserables” on stage, who currently co-stars as Mona Vanderwall- on “Pretty Little Liars,” and it’s always great to see a homegrown actor in a guest on any show. So bravo, for showcasing one of our own.
For those who pause here each week to reflect, applaud, agree, disagree or shout foul, let me declare that I don't dislike the show. With due respect to the creators, I watch religiously. I hope for a more productive play-out. I think, in the midst of a third season, that there is a dire lack of creative juices, producing a fragile and limp procedural without the kind of canny plotlines that make you stand up and applaud. Some the work has been juvenile, like "Kapu;" a few have been downright embarassing. And the ratings slump is as good as a barometer of the ranking of the show. It ain't showing the kind of progress we'd hope for.
Even diehard “Five-0” fans were dubious if the network would poll all viewers in the brief window of voting time — as demonstrated in blogs and commentary online. The underlying suspicion was that CBS would have the say what conclusion would go in which market, and we’d likely get the West Coast version, as it turned out.
Many viewers remain loyal cheerleaders, but face it, unless the weekly content and conflict and conspiracy theories jump up a notch or two, the show will begin to sink into the sunset well before it rises like the phoenix in syndication next year on TNT.
It helped that CBS unveiled four new comedies in the two hours before “Five-0” — “How I Met Your Mother,” “The Big Band Theory,” “2 Broke Girls” and “Mike and Molly” — each of which led the competish, providing a solid lead-in for “Five-0.”
It showed some faith in "Five-0." Now if only the network will light the fire and begin challenging the show to do better.
When "Kapu" played out, it felt like "Kaput" for the show -- broken, ineffective.
Maybe the vote should instead have been a “like” or “dislike.”
If you watched and have a reaction, share, please...

MVT seeking a Buddy (and buddies) for a Holly good time

January 14th, 2013

Manoa Valley Theatre will audition singers and musicians for “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story,” the theater’s major musical capping its 2012 season.
The award-winning show, celebrating Holly in his rock 'n' roll prime, opens June 27 at MVT. But because of a rigorous rehearsal schedule, early auditions will be at 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday (Jan. 14 and 15). Performers 18 and older are eligible.
The challenge: to find actors who can provide their own musical accompaniment in the style and spirit of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens, real-life rock-era artists who perished in a plane crash.
The show — a Hawaii premiere — focuses on the life of Holly and the events leading to that fatal plane crash. It was a hit on Broadway and in London.
The actor playing Buddy Holly must be able to play guitar live for the performances and project the defining Holly style (remember the horn-rimmed glasses and hits like "Peggy Sue" and "Everyday"?) in the golden era of rock ‘n’ roll.
The roles available:
Buddy Holly — Male 18-20s, tenor, plays guitar and sings (must accompany himself while singing), familiarity with the repertoire and vocal style of Buddy Holly necessary; leader and lead guitarist of The Crickets.

Joe B. Mauldin — Male, 18-20s, singing helpful, tenor preferred, bass guitarist of The Crickets.

Jerry Allison — Male, 18-20s, singing helpful, tenor preferred, drummer of The Crickets.

Tommy — Male, 20s-30s, singing helpful, tenor preferred, rhythm guitarist of The Crickets.

Hipockets Duncan - male, 20s-50s, radio DJ.

Maria Elena — Female, 18-20s, Buddy's wife.

“Big Bopper” J.P. Richardson — Male, mid 20s to early 30s, baritone, plays guitar and sings (must be able to accompany himself while singing), familiarity with the repertoire and vocal style of The Big Bopper necessary.

Norman Petty — Male, 30s-40s, manager, non-singer.

Ritchie Valens — Male, 18-20s, tenor, plays guitar and sings (must be able to accompany himself while singing), familiarity with the repertoire and vocal style of Valens necessary.

Vi Petty — Female, 20s-30s, Norman's wife, alto, plays keyboard.

Performers at The Apollo (2) - Black male or female, 20s to 50s, any vocal range.

Hayriders (multiple) — Musicians playing guitar, drums, bass, 4th country instrument (fiddle, steel guitar or banjo), at least two of whom sing; people from this group can also play Jack Daw and various backup musician roles.
Bree Bumatai will be guest-director, Keith Griffin is guest musical director, and Katherine L. Jones is guest choreographer.
Rehearsals being April 15, with performances June 27 to Aug. 11. Playdates are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays.
Scripts are available for perusal on MVT premises at 2833 East Manoa Road, between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays. Information: 988-6131.

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