By Wayne Harada
Jack Cione and his senior residents at Arcadia Retirement Residence have outdone themselves with this year’s “Follies,” themed “Everything Old Is New Again.” It plays to residents and guests through Sunday (April 26).
Like wine, the show gets better and better with age — and bigger in scope with more eye-popping costumes. Its three-week run is sold out, but a resident could get you a seat — if they’re still available. But worry not; the show will have a hana hou expanded performance for the public at 7 p.m. May 23 at the Hawaii Theatre, when Hawaii Ballroom Dance Assn. members join and expand the party with tango, foxtrot, salsa, waltz and more.
“Everything Old,” delivered by the venerable Marci Taylor-Kaneshige early with a reprise late in the show, is newly pertinent as the vets in the cast (from the Arcadia and sister 15 Craigside camp) display rigorous determination and rousing execution adding dancing and prancing to the congenial lip service.
Result: Charm and enchantment a-plenty.
The eldest performer in “Follies” is 86, but age is only an arbitrary number.
There’s a sweeping power and potency of feeling young in this year’s edition and truly, the revue is an ode to seniorhood, a validation that with age comes the wisdom of celebrating life.
And that feel-young mantra is best stated in a monologue, originated by Sophie Tucker, entitled “Business of Staying Young,” mouthed with accuracy and intimacy by Elaine Stroka, who embraces the “Make staying young a career” mantra of vntage Tucker for a modern crowd. That segment and its timeless message underscore the joie de vivre of the entire cast.
Oh, a cluster of younger folks learning the business of camaraderie with the seniors, provides a widening ripple of new blood for the “Follies,” the 10th Cione has produced and directed for his Arcadians and their families. Best of the younger lot is the leggy and lovely Allyson Doherty, who has solo spots throughout the revue, as she has done since joining the more senior ‘ohana a couple of years ago.
But this year’s is the best yet.
The template is familiar: Assemble tunes and themes that tap the rich history of hits and composers, deck the troupers with plumes and rhinestones, in Las Vegas style costumes to robust red-white-and-blue Americana, and dust off some jazz, one island novelty, and salute carnivale show queens in all their senior glory.
Some costumes are rented, some were freshly minted for this outing; some were tweaked from garb from the past, befitting the “everything old is new again” undercurrent.
Musically, a medley of composer Irving Berlin’s best includes holiday pauses — “Easter Parade,” complete with an array of bunny-and-floral hats, and “White Christmas,” with its wintery warmth.
That comedic Spike Jones “Cocktails for Two,” with its somewhat looney tempo and goofy utterances, enables Dr. Ed Kagihara to deliver classic nonsensical Jonesian lingo, and a nutty “My Castanuts” delivered by in-drag Emmet White, Arcadia CEO, is all about jumping into the spirit and splash of old-fashioned show biz.
Oh, what fun.
You’re likely to experiences songs you might have forgotten, like “I Wanna Buy a Paper Doll,” truly one of the most completely satisfying segments. Dentist John Kotake, who’s not an Arcadian (yet) but embodies the spirit of participation and collaboration with, his wife, Karen Kotake. They are ballroom dancers who know all the moves, converts who now are lip-synchers, too. The joy in this entry are those oversized paper doll cut-outs as props, with the women dancers clad in ingenious costumes fashioned from paper, whirling and twirling with their gentleman partners. Celebrants here include Patty DelaCruz, Mark DelaCruz, Selina Mattos and Kevin Chee.
Sheila Black continues to focus on themes local, with “Will You Love Me When My Carburetor’s Busted,” and she has the proper measure of integrity to deal out the island humor with heart.
A Cleopatra section, complete with King Tut,; a toe-tapping ragtime romp to “Alexander’s Ragtime Band;” and a patriotic flag-waver preceded by “Yankee Doodle Dandy” are old schemes repotted with new verve by director Cione, the master who can muster up professionalism among his mostly amateur cast.
Everyone on stage looks and feels like they’re having fun, including Millie Chun, a casualty last year when she fell 20 feet off the Hawaii Theatre stage and into the pit. It took her a good year to recover, but she’s back on the horse, having the time of her life, galloping along with her senior peers.
While Cione has mentioned this would be his last “Follies,” consider a contradictory notice in the program booklet that announces “Best of Broadway” will be the theme of the 11th annual production, opening May 6, 2016. Another opening, another show of senior might and magic.
7:30 p.m. Friday (April 24) and Saturday (April 26); 2 p.m. Sunday (April 26)
Arcadia Retirement Residence
Admission restricted to residents and their guests; sold out
“COME TO THE CABARET,”
7 p.m. May 23
Featuring the “Follies” cast plus Hawaii Ballroom Dance Assn. dancers, with guests Bo Irvine, comedian, and Randy Smith, singer
$30 all seats