Archive for June, 2016

Broadway addendum: here are four more show reviews...

June 26th, 2016

What follows are mini-reviews of four other Broadway shows I saw earlier this month —an addendum to the full story appearing in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Today section on June 26.

Reasons for closings vary; some shows are on limited run, particularly when
“name” actors are in the cast; others shutter because of shrinking ticket sales that threaten profit levels; still others simply decide to shut down after an extended run to kick off a national tour.



>> “The King and I,” Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Lincoln Center; 150 W. 65th St.;

Daniel Dae Kim and Marin Mazzie as the King of Siam and the Brit school teacher Anna brought their own aura and chemistry to this impeccable Bartlett Sher-directed Rodgers & Hammerstein evergreen. Kim was perfection and a suitable match for Mazzie, and their swirling waltz was a crowd-pleaser. As the King, Kim had a memorable line, “One day I wish to build a fence around Siam; next day, I think maybe let the rest of the world in,” greeted by chuckles because of the prevailing political climate. Hawaii’s Ruthie Ann Miles as Lady Thiang, the head wife, served wonderfully and regally for the full run of the show. The rich R&H score, and overtures, are classic.

(Closed June 26 after 538 performances and four 2015 Tony Awards; the plug was pulled to focus on a national tour beginning Nov. 16 2016).



“American Psycho — The Musical,” Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre; 236 W. 45th St.

If only “American Psycho”could have run longer; its body-beautiful star Benjamin Walker, portraying Patrick Bateman the serial killer from the Bret Easton Ellis novel, is more mannequin than leading man. Nonetheless, Walker was spot-on made for this imperfect glimpse — MTV video style, of the 1980s — of a shallow but fascinating antihero with bloodshed in his daily routine.

Directed by Rupert Goold, and featuring thumping, pumping electro-pop songs by Duncan Shiek, the musical had an edginess set against a cold monochromatic set and lit with stark brightness and blackouts and even a Plexiglas front shield that keeps fake blood within the stage instead of splattering into the house.

Bateman was an obsessed Wall Streeter with the six-pack, chic designer clothes and pristine office peopled with competitive on-the-rise phonies trying to out-do each other. Amusing, too, that nearly everyone walks like runway models fresh from the spa. Obviously, with “Hamilton” nabbing most of the box office ka-chings, “Psycho” couldn’t compete. Clever gimmick: Faux $100 bills are shot into the audience, a stage prop that doubles as a take-home souvenir.

(Closed June 5, after 58 performances and two Tony nominations; received mixed reviews and had difficulty attracting audiences heading to “Hamilton” at killer prices).




>> “Blackbird,” Belasco Theatre; 111 W. 44th St.

What happens when lovers meet 15 years after an affair gone sour? Was it love? Or was it rape? That was the premise facing Ray (Jeff Daniels), 50ish, and Una (Michelle Williams), mid-20ish, in Joe Mantello’s stunning, bizarre and intense drama, where little is known about him or her.

The obscure, non-descript setting — a pharmaceutical house — also was bewildering; it was after hours and as vacant as the unfolding emotions and factoids She was 12, he was 40, when something sexual exploded, festering an ugly smear of uncertainty.

It was a situation of a tense present dealing with a fuzzy past, where words and charges of pedophilia and abuse and seduction were blurred.

Harrowing, too, with a conclusion not expected, with the two actors exchanging physical and verbal fisticuffs as they filtered and tried to sort out a polarizing incident.

Both Daniels and Williams were at sparring best, with some rough play interspersed among the rabid words.

Love here was a many splintered fling.

(Opened March 10 and closed June 11, after a limited-run 18 weeks; critically praised, with three Tony nominations).


>> “Bright Star,” Cort Theatre; 138 W. 45h St.

I was charmed and delighted by this bluegrass musical, with tunes by Steve Martin and Edie Brickwell (they didn’t appear on stage), that captured Americana with the calm of a hootenanny. A complex melodrama of an infant boy thought to be lost, the plot intertwinedand linked folks who don’t know they have connections. There was a mood-setting train that chugged along the top of the proscenium.

Billy Crane (A.J. Shively) was a war veteran returning home in 1945 to Hayes Creek, N.C., and learned that his dad could not bear to tell him his mom had died. A writer at heart, he delivered scripts to the Ashville Southern Journal, hoping for publication, where he met Alice Murphy (Carmen Cusack), a fussy literary editor who dallied about printing his stuff.

There were repeated flashbacks, and the score was rich in optimistic songs delivered by a splendid cast and rendered by a house band (in a rotating/revolving house) all smartly directed by Walter Bobbie in a package with the vibe of a Hallmark musical, right down to the denouement. Perhaps “Star” needed a bright name for marquee power.

(Closed June 26, after 109 performances and five Tony nominations; possibly lacked box office appeal because of an ensemble cast without a mainstream star).

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Shari Lynn at Medici: A genuine jewel of jazz

June 26th, 2016

Shari Lynn, at Medici's; background, bassist Jon Hawes




Shari Lynn, with bassist Jon Hawes, at her monthly gig at Medici's at Manoa Market place; the view of the stage from the balcony.


Shari Lynn’s monthly stint at Medici’s at Manoa Marketplace — she’s normally warbling on the last Friday of each month, and I took in last night’s (June 24) event — was wonderfully relaxing and a super site to soak up her polished and powerful artistry.

Her devotees make this almost like a jazz club’s monthly meeting, a mecca for sharing good jazz vibes with a well-stocked buffet of nibbles. A balcony level perch gives you a bird’s eye view of the proceedings on the second-level floor where circular tables are communal worship stations for Shari’s generous and glorious performance of songs you know from her repertoire of the Great American Songbook.

The Shari Lynn Trio this evening featured her regular cohort on piano, Jim Howard, and Jon Hawes on a stand-up bass once owned by the late Steve Jones was a newbie. “Did you steal it?” Shari jokingly asked the young dude deeply tuned in to the ritual of maintaining that undercoating of deep bass riffs. No, he didn’t swipe the stand-up fiddle; Jones earlier “retired” that instrument and Hawes became its lucky recipient to carry on it and his legacy. Huge responsibility on his shoulders; or fingers, I should say.

Certainly, Jones had been a frequent musician supporting Shari, so an appropriate note of appreciation was paid to the well-loved accompanist who lost his battle to cancer recently.

And, of course, Shari continues to salute, respect and reflect on the late Jimmy Borges, whom she called a “world-class jazz singer” who “bravely and publicly” waged his own battle against cancer. The chanteuse chose Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” as the ditty to cherish the memory of Borges, with whom she had done this song as a duet over the decades.

Shari’s m.o. is much like Borge’s — heck, the association made one influence the other, in a mutual admiration society of sorts. Similar menu of resourceful standards that touch the heart, have something to say, acknowledge the composer, and delivered with earnest soulfulness. The formula continues to work; that’s that genuine magic of two classic jazz singers who share storytelling skills in her vocal delivery.

When Shari offers “I’ve Got the World on a String,” there’s a ring of truth; she’s unmistakably the prevailing jazz female jazz artist; she’s a favorite on the club circuit; she mixes her daytime job as a teacher with her passion to grow as a vocalist; she periodically basks in the spotlight as a musical comedy star in local theater; she spends her vacation expanding her horizons of her craft by immersing in self-improvement workshops and research to mount future projects.

For instance, George and Ira Gershwin are among her favorite resources; during a June trip to Washington D.C., she touched (and photographed) the actual piano the George composed “Porgy and Bess” and saw the typewriter and pen that Ira owned to compose the lyrics.

This reflection was a terrific intro to the Gershwin brothers’ “The Man I Love” ballad; Shari captures the nuances of the poetry and rides the waves of those juicy blues notes.

“Send in the Clowns,” from “A Little Night Music,” is one of her signatures that bring out her prowess and depth as a stage actor; there’s such a range of emotions in her delivery, from subtle to coy to romantic. Her enunciation and vocal punctuation truly bring out the essence of composer’s Stephen Sondheim’s drama-in-song.

“That Ol’ Black Magic” is another specimen of how swell her spell is; she moves and grooves, and demonstrates why titles like this never fade.

With husband Michael Acebedo in the house with a group of friends, Shari got personal with the acknowledgement that they just marked their 41st wedding anniversary, recalling their marriage at Kauai’s Fern Grotto four decades ago. And she dedicated “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” to him.

Shari never takes her backup gents instrumental for granted, always giving them solo moments in nearly all tunes, giving credit where it’s due.

Such is the generosity of this genuine jewel of jazz.

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Jimmy Borges services and a salute, slated over three days

June 7th, 2016



Michelle Honda photo



Funeral services and a salute to the late jazz icon, Jimmy Borges, will be held over three days this weekend, according to his family.

An invitation-only Mass, for family and close friends, will be held at 6 p.m. Friday (June 10) at Sts. Peter & Paul Church, at 800 Kaheka St. Visitation will be from 5 p.m.; Sts. Peter & Paul is where Jimmy and wife Vicki are parishioners.

A public Mass will be held at noon Saturday (June 11) at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, at 1184 Bishop St. Visitation will be from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

A Celebration of Life program, is scheduled from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Sunday (June 12) at the Monarch Room of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel; the program still was being finalized this week. The scattering of ashes by canoe off the Pink Palace will be from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The public may attend and there is no admission, but aloha attire is suggested (no shorts or slippers).

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The Jimmy Borges Endowed Scholarship for vocal music students at the Department of Music at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. Checks may be sent to the University of Foundation, Attn. Malia Peters, P.O. Box 11270, Honolulu HI 96828-0270. Or visit


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