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'For the Love of Jimmy' event raises more than $70,000

February 1st, 2016
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Performers at "For the Love of Jimmy" included Lucie Arnaz, Melveen Leed and Jimmy Borges himself.

 

 

“For the Love of Jimmy,” that fundraiser for entertainer Jimmy Borges, raised  more than $70,000 — surpassing its $50,000 goal  — at the gala last Saturday (Jan. 30) at the Westin Moana Surfrider  hotel.

And monies are still being tallied.

The evening was an outpouring of love and aloha for Borges, who has stage four terminal  lung cancer. He decided live out his life his way — without customary chemotherapy — and the journey has been a mix of good and bad days.

Happily, Borges was in high spirits Saturday, meeting and greeting and being photographed with an array of genuine fans, friends, family and notables, all sharing a common mission: to salute the master of his craft.

The show  — in the Banyan Court of the Moana Surfrider,  under a sprawling banyan tree and clear skies  — was a mixed bag of local performers capped by a Borges fan and friend from way back, Lucie Arnaz, the daughter of one of show biz’s iconic couples, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

The space, not commonly utilized for shows these days (‘twas the previous home of radio’s “Hawaii Calls,” the Tavana revue, then Tihati Productions’ Polynesian spectacle during Waikiki’s glorious show biz  era of the ‘60s to the ‘80s), made celebrants wonder why there haven’t been more events in recent times.

It was a fitting and cordial spot to show Borges how well he is adored and worshipped, and a salute intending to pump up monies to fulfill his last wish: to launch a University of Hawaii scholarship bearing his name, for future vocalists.

So it was a hearty party, a rainbow of aloha and styles to demonstrate how much Borges is adored.

The  take-away moment came early on, without warning.

Melveen Leed, who shelved her comedic antics and Hawaiian repertoire this night, opened the evening on a pop-jazz note, beginning with “Poor Butterfly.” She innocently sashayed into a bossa nova mood with “The More I See You,” segueing into “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” which prompted Borges — seated at a front table surrounded by family and supporters — to unexpectedly rise from his seat, head for the corner stage on the veranda of the restaurant area, to chime in with Leed.

Appropriately, “I Wish You Love” was the anthem of this rousing moment.  Weak on his feet but his heart filled with celebratory joy, Borges hung onto the veranda rail to share a see-sawing duet with Leed, who played along like a pro, sharing her segment with the honoree. With equal parts glee and concern, Borges had the savvy and the energy to deliver what surely might have been his final performance in a colorful and triumphant 60-year career.

He is 80, but the cancer — affecting his ability to breathe — means he has lost some of the steam steam as a belter.

But with this instance of genuine but unplanned honesty, he and Leed earned cheers and ovations, nullifying a late-in-the-show song Borges was to do. This was the right moment at the right time with the right emotions, and it was thoroughly impromptu, it was totally electrifying. It couldn’t have been scripted any better. For Leed, it was a triumph, too; so many admired her vocal prowess and discipline and charity, sharing her mike time and co-starring in this iconic highlight.

Willie K also adjusted his songlist to pay tribute to jazz and Borges, with a super duper performance emoting Ella Fitzgerald-like scat singing which brought down the house, too. When he indulged in “If I Didn’t Care,” the old Ink Spots classic, he validated  his fondness of blues and jazz, mimicking and saluting Nina Simone.

Oh yeah, Willie also was wildly operatic with a powerful “Nessun Dorma.”

Yvonne Elliman, widely associated with her Mary Magdalene connection with the concept album, Broadway musical and film version of  “Jesus Christ Superstar,” focused instead on her ‘70s repertoire, sharing sure bets like “If I Can’t Have You” from “Saturday Night Fever” and her Barbara Lewis cover-turned-hit “Hello, Stranger.”  For her, nostalgia ruled.

Taimane Gardner, a skilled and animated ukulele whiz, demonstrated her expressive and explosive strumming, a good spot for familiarizing her evolving brand with a local crowd. A former Don Ho “discovery,” she traditionally plays for visitor audiences so this was a nifty notch for her local creds.

Finally, Lucie Arnaz, a songstress of admirable eloquence and charm, capped the evening with a solid roster of American song standards, showing a parallel philosophy of Borges: utilizing songs to tell stories. From “Lulu’s Back in Town” to “The Tender Trap”  to “Until Now,” she breezed through a gamut of romantic paths: lasting connections, failures, eternal searches. Not jazzy, but grand and graceful.

And then to punctuate her adoration of the islands — she has been here a number of times over the decades — she dusted off the classic Hawaiian “Na Alii,” revealing she  researched its lyrics involving history and propriety, surprising the audience that she knew the Hawaiian lyrics which she delivered in contrasting pace and tempo, first with a the slow version and the show-stopping rapid-fire upbeat version.

The crowd howled delight.

As for the Borges scholarship donations, the funds will fuel the initial $300,000 committed to the Jimmy Borges Endowment Fun, to bolster and solidify a legacy for the ailing jazz singer. He simply wanted to leave something significant for a future generation of needy vocalists, so the plan is to award University of Hawaii scholarships to prospective singers, hopefully for a lifetime.

All “For the Love of Jimmy.”

 

TAG revives ‘Ira & George and Shari & Jim,’ plus Kip

January 1st, 2016
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 By popular demand, Shari Lynn’s tribute to composers Ira and George Gershwin, launched last year by The Actors’ Group, is being revived in a limited-run fundraiser starting tonight (Jan. 1).

The show, entitled “Ira & George and Shari & Jim,” was written and staged by veteran theater and nightclub performer Shari Lynn, who also is a teacher at Hawaii School for Girls. Jim Howard, pianist, returns on the keyboards, but this engagement also will feature veteran tenor of opera and theater, Kip Wilborn, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Jean Valjean in the Ron Bright-directed “Les Miserables” production at Paliku Theatre at Windward Community Theatre.

“We’re excited to have Kip as a guest performer,” said Shari.

Veteran actor-director-choreographer Brad Powell provided additional staging.

Performances will be at the TAG venue, The Brad Powell Theatre, located at 615 Iwilei Road, on the ground floor of The Shops at Dole Cannery, opposite the Regal Cinemas complex.

Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m.  Sundays, now through Jan. 17.

Suggested donation is $40.

Information: 741-4699 or tag@hawaii.rr.com.

Reservations: 722-6941 or tagtickets@hawaii.rr.com.

Validated parking is available at the cinema structure.

 

 

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A jolly holiday fullhouse concert by the Royal Hawaiian Band

December 11th, 2015
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Nearly two hours before the 7 p.m. curtain, local folks lined up for the Royal Hawaiian Band’s first holiday concert Thursday (Dec. 10) at Hawaii Theatre.

The queue snaked around the theater, from the box office on Bethel Street, along Hotel Street, up Nuuanu Avenue, and snuggling Pauahi Street nearly back to the front entrance.

So naturally, the house was jammed — the show was free, no tickets required, and between 1,200 to 1,300 fans of the band assembled, certainly including first-timers to the theater and newbies to the RHB. Which thrilled maestro Clarke Bright, of course,  as well as Hawaii Theatre president Ruth Bolan, who was all smiles with the sense of community within the historical theater.

The hometowners applauding the homegrown band with roots linked to King Kamehameha III and Hawaiian royalty…that’s magical.

The takeaway:

  • The Royal Hawaiian Band is hugely underrated. Known primarily for its marching parades and informal concerts, it’s merrily festive and supreme as a Christmastime attraction.
  • Corral  a few island troupers with their own following — comedian Frank DeLima, songstress Karen Keawehawaii, and Jerry Santos of the incomparable Olomana group — and you have a socko cast. Throw in keiki — Kamehameha Schools Children’s Chorus and a hula halau, Ka La ‘Onohi Mai o Ha’ehae’e — and there’s vast interest and variety, the  chorus kids charming not only in voices but in faces, a hearty brew of next-generation performers and  the halau demonstrating that culture is worth performing and perpetuating. And tap RHB regulars Malia Ka’ai, she of the operatic voice; Gary Keawe Aiko, the son of Genoa Keawe, thus rooted in credible Hawaii tradition; and Pi’ilaniwahine Smith, the hula soloist who is the daughter of kumu hula Alicia Smith; and you’re talking lifelong stewards of cultural preservation.
  • The partnership of the City and County of Honolulu, the Royal Hawaiian Band Music Society, and the Hawaii Theatre Center enabled the performance to be free, a splendid Christmas present to the community. The fact that the place was packed to the hilt indicates the grand gesture was a hit, and the attendance was validation for the presenters. A win-win for all.
  • For the bandmaster and the band members alike, a holiday gig like this meant the musical menu would be a mixed bag, to suit palettes of all kinds.  And yep, the gang succeeded — holiday orchestral favorites tempered with classical strains; cultural expansion including  something Russian, something cinematic (a “Star Wars” medley, complete with Storm Troopers and more, in anticipation of this winter’s film biggie, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”)  Indeed, the force is with the band.

The band utilized all the elements the Hawaii Theatre provides: entrances and exits via the stage pit, prances and dances in the aisles, and the cherry on the cake: a house sound system geared for concerts, compared to the open-air dynamics of a park show or a parade. On this note, the band was at its best, with swirls of the subtle as well as blasts of the robust — every trick possible. Loved the chimes, loved the jingling bells, loved the rich, full sounds.

The acts benefitted, too; when was the last time you heard a keiki chorus accompanied by a 40-plus unit with all the frills of flutes, the toots of trumpets, French horns and trombones, the gentle riffs of clarinets and the syncopation of percussions. And more. Made “Hallelujah Chorus” a rouser, resulting in a spontaneous standing ovation! (It helped that Lynnel Bright, conductor of the Kamehameha kids, is the spouse of bandmaster Clarke — nothing like partnerships in the ‘ohana).  And even Jerry Santos opined that it was pleasure and a treasure to have the accompaniment of the musicians on two of his classics, “Seabird” and “Ku’u Home O Kahalu’u,” yielding a panorama of support and waves of nostalgic emotions. Further, Santos’ senior viewpoint was a natural fit for his protégé-partner Kamuela Kimokeo, a singer-guitarist and for all practical purposes, the young mate in the age-diverse Olomana of the present. And yes, it was savvy for Santos to include his hula soloist Nalani Badua-Fernandes in his trio of island tunes.

DeLima provided funny fodder, like his inimitable “Filipino Christmas,” complete with a tree costume glistening with lights, and parodies of and salutes to Marcus Mariota and Bruno Mars; he’s mastered the manner of taking popular tunes and making ‘em his own with a new posture and lyrics, and his Portuguese jokes never fail him.

Keawehawai’i perhaps had the evening’s most difficult task, likely assigned to deliver tunes that were not her signature like her peers in the cast. Still, the pro that she is, Keawehawai’i updated  “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Hawaiian Fa-La-La!” with her own imprint, with a rollicking posture and a vocal force that sounded like it was fresh from the North Pole. At least her daughter’s (Tracie Lopes) halau made it a family affair with hula on “Fa-La-La!”

Denby Dung vacated her clarinet chair in the band to emcee the show, delivering cheerful intros to the acts and enabled her to do some comedy in the “Star Wars” segment, complete with Princess Leia-like doughnut rolls on both sides of her hair.

It was nice to see both Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Gov. David Ige and their spouses on opposite ends of a sector loaded with city council members and administrators. And the Ron Bright ‘ohana, now led by widow Mo Bright, numbered 18 and were generous in applause and goodwill for No. 1 son Clarke’s role in the evening of holiday enchantment.

So, the Royal Hawaiian Band legacy continues. And sounds like Hawaii Theatre’s honcho Bolan wants to make this gift an annual treat. As one of the ushers said, “This is the first time since Jim Nabors’ Christmas concerts that the house is packed.” Hallelujah!

 

 

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'Five-0' on a roll — with role-playing — but ratings static

November 21st, 2015
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Danno (Scott Caan) goes to school, under cover as an economics professor, in this week’s “Hawaii Five-0.” In the episode entitled “Hana Kuaka (Charades),” which aired Friday (Nov. 20), he portrays a college professor subbing for the one murdered and tossed in a pig pen with the pigs making dinner out of the prof's carcass. The oinkers weren’t making believe; the “body” must have had some flavors the big piggies loved.

First, a word about the overnight Nielsen ratings: ABC’s “Shark Tank” was No. 1 in the key 18 to 49 adults demographic, with a 1.7 rating — best of the night. And it’s a role the show has maintained for weeks, no charade invovled.

CBS’ “Five-0” had more viewers in the same hour — 9.06 million, better than last week — but with a static 1.1 18 to 49 demo rating.  The evening’s most-watched program was CBS’ “Blue Bloods,” which logged 11 million viewers and a 1.1  18 to 49 demo rating, in the hour following “Five-0.”

 

Danno wasn’t the only one playing something or someone he wasn’t.

Eric (Andrew), Danno’s nephew now recurring as a lab assistant, also goes under cover as a college student, to seek out evidence or chatter about why or how the prof landed in the pig pen. Good to admit he didn’t “cry uncle,” and his playful banter and young looks made him a natural to think he’d fit in on boozing and dancing with the collegians.

Even McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) took on the supportive fatherly stance, in a subplot involving a troubled son and his suspicious dad — with McG trying to sort out dad’s motives and son’s distancing stance while keeping everyone happy.

Jerry (Jorge Garcia), still eager to find his niche in the “Five-0” hierarchy, pulls what literally is a crappy duty — an evidence collector who has to watch for a missing bullet in the murder victim’s carcass to “pass” through the pig. While reading “Charlotte’s Web,” no less. Can you imagine the environment and odor during the filming? Garcia had to play the role of someone who couldn’t tell hell from smell.

Max (Maxi Oka), the ME who finds the thumb of the victim in the goop and, well, you know, the mess in the pig pen, might have been role-playing, too— thinking of his other primetime duties on NBC’s “Heroes Reborn,” which smells like gravy compared to this episode.

Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) still is masquerading with a smitten, gentlemanly veneer in his ongoing work-duty alongside Abby (Julie Benz), even opening the car door in their mutual cop-work doldrums.

With so many involved in the charade parade, who’s holding down the fort?

Lou (Chi McBride) was pretty stable this week, carrying the investigative banner. And Kono (Grace Park) put on a pretty face, despite the lack of good news regarding her problemed husband Adam (Ian Anthony Dale, not seen this week, but mentioned), with his Yakuza-ties past.

 

 

 

 

Status quo for 'Five-0' in the Friday night playout

November 14th, 2015
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Kristoffer Polaha and Natalie Dawson as con artists in "Hawaii  Five-0."

 

ABC’s “Shark Tank,” with its 1.6 rating in the key 18 to 49 demographics, was No. 1 Friday (Nov. 13) where it counts; CBS’ “Blue Bloods,” with 10.30 million viewers, topped the head count of viewers.

This duality has prevailed in the Nielsen ratings for Friday, so it’s pretty much status quo.

What Hawaii watches, of course, is the performance of CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0,” in the same hour (8 p.m. here, 9 p.m. Mainland) as “Shark Tank.”  The local show logged a 1.1 rating in the demos, 8.36 million viewers — behind in the demos but ahead of “Shark’s” 6.19 million watchers.

This playout seems to be the Friday routine and norm. With this regularity, it’s rough to expect higher numbers in the demos or for more viewers.  And thus, ABC leads in demos (1.3 rating) and CBS cops viewership laurels (8.16 million) for the night. It is what it is.

With episode eight of season six entitled “Piko Pau‘Iole (The Artful Dodger),”

three story threads prevailed:

  • Adam (Ian Anthony Dale) still in pursuit of Yakuza types, wanting settlement on due sums. The exciting opening had him escaping from the thuds, rolling down a forest hill, and eventually killing his pursuers. His fate still is unresolved, though the monetary issue is, um, resolved — for now.
  • The introduction of San Francisco police officer Abby Dunn (Julie Benz), to kokua Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) in investigating the murder of Chinese drug dealers appears to the start of yet another romantic tryst for Chin, who is all smiles all the time when Dunn’s around — and they barely know each other yet.
  • The con artist pair, led by Hank Weber (Kristoffer Polaha) and his accomplice,  Katie Dawson (Natalie Dawson), who rip off tourists after arriving at the airport, picking pockets to collect iPhones, cameras, bags, sunglasses and more. Curiously, he gets to work with the “Five-0” team in trying to sort out the accusations with the acquisitions — toward an unexpected finish.

Polaha starred as Jason Matthews, manager of the Grand Waimea Hotel,  in the short-lived Hawaii-filmed TV series, “North Shore” (2004-05), with the Turtle Bay resort serving as the fictional hotel. So this is a homecoming for him.

The triad of stories means the cast are separated; Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin), Danno Williams (Scott Caan), Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park) and Lou Grover (Chi McBride) pretty much investigate the customary crimes; Chin is busy accompanying Dunn with twinkling eyes; Kono again gets caught in the dark clouds of  hubby  Adam’s checkered past and one begins to wonder if it’s worth her time to stick to wedded bliss, when there’s little bliss.

Oh, and Jerry (Jorge Garcia) is the mix; yearning to earn  a swearing-in badge to officially be a “Five-0” officer, like the newly-minted officer Dunn, and again ascension from basement office to main floor glory.

Max (Masi Oka) is represented in a phone call; obviously, he’s double-dipping doing NBC’s “Heroes Reborn.”

Gabriel Waincraft (Christopher Sean) continues to be a menacing villain; he’s all venom and veneer — a combination that yields both intrigue and terror, elements “Five-0” periodically needs, and substance that Wo Fat (Marc Dacascos) failed to mine.