Archive for September, 2015

Inside ‘Side by Side:’ A personal connection

By
September 30th, 2015



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Tom Holowach, pictured

When Paliki Theatre’s “Side by Side by Sondheim” premieres at Windward Community College, there’s an untold personal connection between the show and one of its performers and one of its creators that flash back to the musical’s London and Broadway roots, circa 1970s.

And it’s all about having friends in the right places, to come through at the right time.

The musical montage, of songs from the Stephen Sondheim repertoire of shows, will be staged for six performances over two weekends, in a somewhat of a hasty mounting following the death last July 7 of director Ronald E. Bright, the iconic force behind a lifetime of shows at the Castle High School theater that bears his name, and all the blockbusters he’s staged at Paliku prior to his passing.

No, he was never going to direct this one, but when he took ill and  was unable to render his usual creative input in the theater’s fall attraction, it took some quick brainstorm to pinpoint a show with a hand-picked cast and limited rehearsal time to generate buzz and a following.

Enter, “Side by Side by Sondheim,” and Tom Holowach, manager of Paliku Theatre and a sometimes actor,  who had a longtime friendship with an Englishman who assembled this montage/homage to Sondheim.

Ned Sherrin, who first directed this show (now deceased), had collaborated with British producer Cameron Macintosh in London, whose parallel producer in New York, the equally eminent Hal Prince, decided to stage the show on Broadway.

This is where friendship kicks in. As Holowach tells it: “My friend, David Yakir (my friend, because he was my wife Holly’s college theater friend at two schools) got a job as Ned’s assistant during the entire New York run and traveled to other cities around the word. Ned eventually arranged for David to direct a show Ned was producing in London called ‘Only in America,’ which Holly and I saw on opening night.”

With its manageable cast of stage professionals, “Side by Side” also happened to have the stars aligned “It’s pure coincidence that it also happens to be one of two Broadway shows put together by someone I actually know”  — the other is Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” written by a friend, for which Holowach already has rights for next year.

The show boasts familiar Sondheim hits from “West Side Story,” “Gypsy,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “A Little Night Music,” “Follies,” and “Company.” Sondheim is regarded as one of America’s most clever lyricist; his trademark tune is “Send in the Clowns,” from “A Little Night Music,” though his words are among the most sung in shows like “West Side Story,” “Gypsy” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”

The composers include Leonard Bernstein, Mary Rodgers, Richard Rodgers and Jule Styne.

This will be the first staging of “Side by Side” in Honolulu since 1986, when Shari Lynn was in the cast. The Paliku cast boasts five formidable Po’okela Award-winning performers:

  • Kip Wilborn, who was Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables” at Paliku.
  • Kim Anderson, who enacted Cosette in “Les Miz.”
  • Shari Lynn, theater and nightclub chanteuse with numerous stage credits.
  • Jade Stice, a former student of Ron Bright at Castle High, who finished high school to directly enter a “Miss Saigon” production on the Mainland.
  • Holowach, the theater’s manager and a frequent stage actor, in the role of the narrator.

 

Holowach says the New York original was the first Broadway show in history to have every single cast member nominated for a Tony Award: singers Millicent Martin, Julia McKenzie and David Kernan and Ned Sherrin as narrator.

 

 

‘SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM’

A musical montage of compositions by Stephen Sondheim

When: Premiering at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2; repeats at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. Sundays, through Oct. 11.

Where: Paliku Theatre, Windward Community College.

Cast:  Shari Lynn, Kip Wilborn, Kim Anderson, Jade Stice, and Tom Holowach.

Co-directed by: Kip Wilborn and Ramon del Barrio.

Choreographer: Ramon del Barrio.

Musical conductor: Emmett Yoshioka.

Lighting by: R. Andrew Doan, Lloyd “Sandy” Riford and Janine Myers.

Costumes by: Lacy Rohlf.

Tickets: $29 adults; $26 seniors 62 and older, active duty military, University of Hawaii faculty and staff; $20, students and children through age 25.

Reservations: www.eTicketHawaii.com (under Performing Arts/Paliku Theatre), or via the box office, 235-7310; a $3 fee per ticket for online sales.

 

 

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It’s piracy for 'Hawaii Five-0;' lowest-ever demo ratings

By
September 26th, 2015



 

h506 It’s a slippery slope for CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0,” whose season six opener Friday (Sept.25) topped its hour in viewership (8.09 million) but  was second in the key 18 to 49 demographics (1.0 rating,  the lowest ever).

Its chief competitor in that hour was ABC’s “Shark Tank” (1.6 in demos, tops for the hour, and 5.96 million in viewers).

The ratings reflected usual Friday viewing pattern, with the Eye network copping overall viewership laurels (largely because of Tom Selleck’s “Blue Bloods’” pull of 9.90 million viewers, and 1.3 demos). The Alphabet network scored best in the demos (1.3 rating overall, compared to CBS’ 1.1 rating).

This will be the likely Friday Night Fights outlook in the weeks ahead, unless viewership habits change remarkably.

A pirates-themed storyline coupled with the post-wedding woes confronting Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park) and Adam Noshimuri (Ian Anthony Dale) didn’t make for a whiz-bang opener.  It seemed like Halloween came early. The episode’s proverbial title was “Mai ho’oni I ka wai lana malie (Do not Disturb the Water That is Tranquil”) — who comes up with these anyway?  Perhaps more creative effort should be devoted to plot substances than labels, since the tags only appear online, not onscreen. For this one, the show earned an A for Ambition (for trying) but an  F  for Failure (for not delivering).

The pirate tag was pegged to a faux historical notion that a rare painting with clues linked to a treasure that was stolen by marauding pirates during King Kalakaua’s reign (demonstrated in flashbacks) but the loot (gold bars, circa 1800) was never found. This, we learn, after said painting is swiped from the Bishop Museum while Kono and Adam are tortured (both are tazed, he is beaten, she has a tooth extracted) by Gabriel Waincroft (Chrisitopher Sean),  the gangsta dude who’s a cousin of Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim), who showed up at last season’s finale when the wedding was under way and threatened Chin, or else, for a supposed costly favor. The Yakuza lives!

There may be bumps in the road for the principals, too. Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) is sweet on Catherine’s (Michelle Borth) return and may propose, which means adjusting his life; tattler Danno (Scott Caan) spills the beans  but has his  own adjustments to make now with a son he never knew he had; and Kono has to deal with Adam’s gunshot wound, and  oh, you know he’ll recover, but will he and  Chin both be continually haunted by Gabriel? Of course.

The novelty of Jerry’s  (Jorge Garcia) quirky, off-beat antics play like a sideshow; admittedly, he discovers clues and finds solutions, so the larger question is: why isn’t he a badge-carrying member of the “Five-0” team?

And why does the show boast so many kinfolk/relatives? Cousins Chin and Kono? Cousins Kono and Makana (Tia Carrere), the wedding singer rendering, gulp, “We Are Family,” with ‘ohana in the Sly and the Family Stone hit? McGarrett and Mama McG (Christine Lahti)? McGarrett and Aunt Deb (Carol Burnett, returning again this season).  McG and Catherine, a future Mr. and Mrs.?  And there are more alliances, with Danno’s exes and future love interest, and a new son alongside a daughter Gracie (Teilor Grubbs).

The cop show has  become needlessly familial.

And speaking of family: That “Five-0” is the lead-in show (8 p.m. here, 9 p.m. Mainland) to “Blue Bloods” (at 9 p.m. here, 10 p.m. Mainland) is a good thing; the current crimefighters in Hawaii, followed by the previous one (Selleck was “Magnum P.I.’s” magnetic hero).

But the alignment clearly shows the caliber of one against the other. “Bloods” propels better plots each Friday, with credible character interventions, and a common bond of family  ties  and values — what locals call ‘ohana — underscoring the shootings and the chases and the daily rituals of a procedural. “Five-0’s” parallel universe is a lot more cluttered, without meaningful purpose.

OK, we shouldn’t compare shows. But think about the highly-rated CBS crime shows — think “NCIS,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “NCIS: New Orleans,” and any “CSI” or “Criminal Minds” installments — and the bottom line is that stories matter most, family ties not that much. The proof is in the ratings.

 

'Honu' propels into the theatrical mainstream with 2-act version

By
September 13th, 2015



 

HonuGroup

Powerful performances by new cast members in Johnson Enos’ two-act version of “Honu by the Sea — The Musical” — which had its world premiere last weekend at the Hawaii  Theatre — propels the environmental show into the theatrical mainstream.

It’s yet another positive step in the certification and growth of the show, which has been four years in the making.

While still focusing on educating the young and families, about the threats of evasive and damaging pollutants to the sea, “Honu” welcomes Jacquelyn Holland-Wright as the domestic diva in-control mother turtle Lehua, Guy Merola as the menacing and threatening oily villain slicker, and Reyn Halford as the flashy and forthright Hula Hoop. They bring stellar voices, imposing presence, and a sense of awesomeness, creating storybook characters which connect with the audience. When all is said and done, it  elevates the experiences beyond youth-theater boundaries into full-fledged theatricality.

The newbies in the cast are memorable and mesmerizing in defining their roles in this undersea fable about a young beachboy Kainoa (Kaipo Leopoldino) who finds a magic starfish which grants him a wish to spend one day with the denizens of the deep, where he discovers humans are part of the reason there’s pollution-causing debris. Ultimately, he becomes a guardian of the seas for his new-found friends.

No, this is not an underwater superhero swim, but Holland-Wright has the charisma and determination of a Mama Rose in “Gypsy,” wearing a green-themed honu (turtle) costume;  Merola imposes the essence of a menacing villain like the Phantom in “Phantom of the Opera,” (complete with a soaring tenor voice, plus a black cape but no chandelier), and Halford displays the pizzaz and flashiness of the emcee in “Cabaret” (in his orange-dominated costume with bouncing octopus legs) as the headliner of a show-within-a-show segment (with requisite back-up showgirls, of course).

These seasoned actors bring depth and delight to the characters they play. The overall look and flair of the tale is enhanced by robust, eye-catching costumes reflecting the hues of the rainbow and the sea, and supported by a Disneyesque soundtrack of original tunes by composer-creator Enos.

So this is not your usual musical. It’s part entertainment, part red-alarm-alert about the need to take care of the environment, which is specifically the sea. The bottom line is to empower the spectators to become, like the Kainoa character, a guardian of the sea —  to make a difference and have a voice in the ongoing battle against pollution.

It's a message that sends the cast several times into the audience, coupled with shout-outs from the stage, which are typical tactics of crowd-participation in productions gearing to youngsters. But even adults were chanting and waving arms in sync with the actors in the weekend performances.

A wave of aloha and hurrahs to Shawna Masuda, playing Malia, the honu of the title, with a voice that resonates in solo and duet (with the mother honu Holland-Wright); Leopoldino, who has perfected his boyish charm as Kainoa, notably on his “Guardian of the Sea” solo; Kaimana Ramos, portraying Shaka the crab, in garb with the right claw larger than the left, with a savvy sideway walk; Ki Quilloy as Nalu the tiger shark, with an upgraded costume that clearly identifies him with requisite fins; and Nickey Enos as Surfy, the Hawaiian monk seal, in a silky and flowing costume befitting a slippery seal.

And a special nod to Gabrielle Awai as Kapper, who manipulates a seahorse puppet with grace and atmospheric charm.

Further, the school of  barracuda, the trio of opihi (smartly named Jan, Ken, Po), and the darling Hoopettes supporting Hula Hoop’s big number are also beautifully costumed and  move and groove with see- and sea-worthy precision.

I watched Act 1 from the balcony, where the sound was occasionally thin, making some dialogue inaudible and some tunes weak. But when I moved to the orchestra section for Act 2, it was easier to hear and appreciate the lyrics as well as the recorded tracks — and being close to the actors makes the show a lot livelier and fun. So: choose orchestra seats, if and when you attend.

The production will continue to tour its one-act version but also may undergo modification and refinement for further development.  Thus, this is the first major wave of activity — with more to come.

The 26-member cast was directed and choreographed by Bart Colby-Doerfler, with Enos serving as creative director and Melina Lillios as musical director and Tim Davis as vocal director. Cyndia Nordstrom's exquisite array of  Broadway-calibre costumes are worth a hurrah, too.

 

Powerful performance by new cast members in Johnson Enos’ two-act version of “Honu by the Sea — The Musical” — which had its world premiere last weekend at the Hawaii  Theatre — propels the environmental show into the theatrical mainstream.

It’s yet another positive step in the certification and growth of the show, which has been four years in the making.

While still focusing on educating the young and families, about the threats of evasive and damaging pollutants to the sea, “Honu” welcomes Jacquelyn Holland-Wright as the domestic but in-control mother turtle Lehua, Guy Merola as the menacing and threatening oily villain slicker, and Reyn Halford as the flashy and forthright Hula Hoop. They bring stellar voices, imposing presence, and a sense of awesomeness, creating storybook characters which connect with the audience and  elevates the experiences beyond youth-theater boundaries into full-fledged theatricality.

The newbies in the cast are memorable and mesmerizing in defining their roles in this undersea fable about a young beachboy Kainoa (Kaipo Leopoldino) who finds a magic starfish which grants him a wish to spend one day with the denizens of the deep, where he discovers humans are part of the reason there’s pollution-causing debris. Ultimately, he becomes a guardian of the seas for his new friends.

No, this is not an underwater superhero swim, but Holland-Wright has the charisma and determination of a Mama Rose in “Gypsy,” wearing a green-themed honu (turtle) costume;  Merola imposes the essence of a menacing villain like the Phantom in “Phantom of the Opera,” (complete a soaring tenor voice, plus a black cape but no chandelier), and Halford displays the pizzaz and flashiness of the emcee in “Cabaret” (in his orange-dominated costume with bouncing octopus legs) as the headliner of a show-within-a-show cabaret show (with requisite back-up showgirls, of course).

These seasoned actors bring depth and delight to the characters they play. The overall look and flair of the tale is enhanced by robust, eye-catching costumes reflecting the hues of the rainbow and the sea, and a Disneyesque soundtrack of original tunes by composer-creator Enos.

So this is not your usual musical. It’s part entertainment, part red-alarm-alert about the need to take care of the environment, which is specifically the sea. The bottom line is to empower the spectators to become, like the Kainoa character, a guardian of the sea —  to make a difference and have a voice in the ongoing battle against pollution.

The cast trips into the audience, and the shout-outs from the stage, are typical of crowd-participation of productions gearing to youngsters, but even adults were chanting and waving arms in sync with the actors in the weekend performances.

A wave of aloha and hurrahs to Shawna Masuda, playing Malia, the honu of the title, with a voice that resonates in solo and duet (with the mother honu); and Leopoldino has perfected his boyish charm as Kainoa, notably on his “Guardian of the Sea” solo; Kaimana Ramos, portraying Shaka the crab, in garb with the right claw larger than the left, with a savvy sideway walk; Ki Quilloy as Nalu the tiger shark, with an upgraded costume that clearly identified him — and his fins; and Nickey Enos as Surfy, the Hawaiian monk seal, in a silky and flowing costume befitting a slippery seal.

And a special nod to Gabrielle Awai as Kapper, who manipulates that seahorse puppet with grace and atmospheric charm.

Further, the school of  barracuda, the trio of opihi, and the darling Hoopettes supporting Hula Hoop’s big number are beautifully costumed and  move and groove with see- and sea-worthy precision.

I watched Act 1 from the balcony, where the sound was occasionally thin, making some dialogue inaudible and some tunes weak.

When I moved to the orchestra section for Act 2, it was easier to hear and appreciate the lyrics as well as the recorded tracks.

The production will continue to tour its one-act version but also may undergo modification and refinement for further development.  Thus, this is the first major wave of activity — with more to come.

Costumes were designed by Cynthia Nordstrom and built by John Kristiansen of New York, a company that outfits Broadway shows.

Director-choreographer Bart Colby-Doerfler orchestrates his 26-member cast with the skill of an army colonel, and Melina Lillios' musical direction (on tracks) and Tim Davis's vocal direction bring harmony and unison to the creative director's Enos' score.

 

 

'HONU BY THE SEA -- THE MUSICAL'
Where: Hawaii Theatre
When: School matinees (one-act), Sept. 9-18; public performances (two-act), 2 and 7 p.m. Sept. 12, 19; 2 p.m. Sept. 13, 20
Cost: $5-$10; family pass available from $55
Info: 528-0506,www.hawaiitheatre.com

 

 

 

 

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Ballad of Marcus Mariota is latest Frank DeLima parody

By
September 10th, 2015



Rose Bowl - Oregon v Florida State FrankD

Just in time for Marcus Mariota’s big game Sunday (Sept. 13), when his Tennessee Titans face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A song of his own, exploring his island legacy, performed by — who else? — the Pauoa Portuguese prince of  pranks, Frank DeLima.

The witty ditty is entitled “The Legend of Marcus Mariota” and  sung to the tune of yesteryear’s  “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” tracks the Heisman Trophy winner’s rise to national fame, as (sorta) seen through the eyes and wisdom of DeLima’s Aunty Mary Tunta character.

“The running joke is that she (Aunty) believes that Marcus is Portuguese,” said DeLima of the running gag in the parody. He’ll perform this song for the first time  — in his Aunty wig and muumuu —at his Grandparents Day noontime show this Sunday (Sept. 13) at the Pagoda Restaurant.

The Mariota track, available on DeLima’s website (www.frankdelima.com), can be downloaded with a voluntary donation to DeLima’s educational tour funds.

“I rushed to get the song out before his first NFL game,” said DeLima of the parody. “I don’t know if it’ll be appropriate, but  I wanted him to Portuguese and a copy of the song has been sent to Mariota’s mom,” in hopes that he’ll find a chuckle in the local boy tribute.

The downloadable track features David Kauahikaua’s musical support, with atmospheric “Davy Crockett” banjo riffs, but DeLima plans to render his  live version a capella  till he’s fully comfortable in belting out the lines. “The recording track is fast; it pushes me and makes me forget the words.”

Here are the lyrics:

THE LEGEND OF MARCUS MARIOTA

Born in Hawaii on the 10-yard line,

Six hours old he began to shine,

Took the snap  from his mom, he was looking fine,

Threw his bottle 80 yards and flashed a shaka sign.

Marcus Mariota, he must be Portuguese.

 

Grew up tall as a coconut tree,

Strong as a shark and quick as a bee,

Once threw a pineapple across the sea,

Hit a feral chicken on Moloka‘i.

Marcus Mariota, he’s gotta be Portuguese.

 

Went to Saint Louis, for high school,

Won every game while he kept every rule,

He was so hot, that he was cool,

With  a perfect GPA, he was no fool.

Marcus Mariotta, OK, he’s Samoan Portuguese

 

Played for Oregon University

Became a star with a Heisman Trophy

Now in the  National Football league

Eating grits not poi in Tennessee

 

Marcus Mariota, alright,  he’s Samoan NOT Portuguese

Marcus Mariota, oh well, I can dream he’s Portuguese

IMUA MARIOTA, IMUA HAWAII

 

 

 

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