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Bomb's away! 'Book of Mormon' due for April 13-May 1 run

October 6th, 2015



billy------------------------------------------------Above, "Book of Mormon" cast from 1st National touring company.

Above left, Bill Harrigan Tighe as Elder Price.

Bel0w, A.J. Holmes as Elder Cunningham.

Photos courtesy "The Book of Mormon."



The Book of Mormon,” winner of nine Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book and Best Direction, will open a limited three-week run April 13 to May 1 2016 at Blaisdell Concert Hall.  Expect a flurry of F-bomb, but a flock of worshippers who have been waiting for this revelatory and relevant lampoon of religion.

The playdates were announced today (Oct. 6) at a press conference where two lead actors from “Mormon’s” 1st National Touring Company — Billy Harrigan Tighe as Elder Price and A.J. Holmes as Elder Cunningham — appeared and spoke in an enlightening and entertaining chit-chat moderated by Hawaii-based Tony nominee Loretta Ables Sayre (Bloody Mary, in “South Pacific”). Visual clips from this groundbreaking giant were shown, punctuating what kind of a blockbuster this is — and it’s still running on Broadway.

Jack Lucas, president of the presenting company, WestCoast Entertainment, announced the dates, and informed the audience of 150 or so attendees that tickets for groups of 10 or more already are on sale at 593-9468 or in person at the Hawaii Opera Theatre box office near the Blaisdell, at 848 S. Beretania St. Suite 303. WestCoast’s last presentation here was “The Lion King.” “Mormon” is part of WestCoast’s Best of Broadway Honolulu series.

The profane show, with book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone, is directed by Casey Nicholaw (who also choreographed) and Parker. The creative team is linked to hip and hot entertainment icons: Parker and Stone are Emmy-winner creators of the “South Park” animated series, and Lopez is the Tony-winning co-author of the musical comedy with puppets, “Avenue Q.” Those shows, and this one, push the envelope on tradition.

“We’re so thankful to be back in Hawaii to present ‘The Book of Mormon,’” said Lucas of the show currently in production in Las Vegas. “It takes a village to bring it here.”

He said it would require nine 53-foot semis to ship the sets, props and costumes from Costa Mesa to Honolulu. Which sounds like the cast gets a vacation a week before flying here, the last stop on the touring calendar.

Tighe and Holmes entered “Mormon” last July as leads in London’s West End presentation and expressed delight and excitement to be part of this theatrical phenom, which lampoons Mormons but celebrates a common ground, of living in a paradise, with explosive comedy and thought-provoking insights, staged with passion and professionalism.

The storyline involves Tighe and Holmes sent to Uganda to spread the gospel of the Book of Mormon.

Tighe, who physically resembles the original lean and clean-cut Elder Price played by Andrew Ranells, said “Mormon” has been “a different show, structurally and musically … (it) moves so fast with technical challenges,” he said.

Holmes, as Elder Cunningham originally portrayed by a heftier and bushy-haired Josh Gads, said audiences initially were confused by his more slender, shorter and normally coiffed hair than Gad’s, so playing the positive but sociologically bad boy was an initial bump in the road. “I’m just strongly handsome,” he said, drawing laughs from the audience. “He succeeds in Africa because he listens to people.”

Since the pair met each other only after auditioning for the production, they had to build camaraderie and collaboration both off and on stage. Seems like mission accomplished; the pair were supportive of each other and sharing quotes in a ping-pong-like back-and-forth volley, with the astute and attuned Ables Sayre masterfully managing the rhythm.

The bottom line, said Tighes, about themselves as actors and characters in the show: “Take care of each other  … we can all work together for this paradise."

The show boasts some clichés about book-toting Mormons who travel in twos and wear white shirts with neckties and black trousers. It’s from this notion, accompanied by the expected ding-dong doorbell rings,  that the show builds a trove of outrageous songs (some naughty, some nice) and rhapsodic comedy into a baptismal farce for first-time viewers and repeat fans.

I saw this in New York  and laughed till I cried. So a national tour — including Hawaii — was a no-brainer. So I can’t wait to see it again, to experience things I might have missed.




A musical by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone


When: April 13 to May 1, 2016

Where: Blaisdell Concert Hall

Curtain time: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, additional show at 2 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays

Tickets: On sale now only for groups of 10 or more; call 593-9468 or in person at the Hawaii Opera Theatre box office, 848 S. Beretania St., Suite 303

Prices: Preview performance, 7:30 pm. April 13: $150.50 premium, orchestra CC-G center section; $75.25 orchestra CC-Z  and balcony A-M;  $61.75 orchestra V-Z and balcony N-Q; $42.50, balcony R-S; Tuesday-Thursday evenings and Sunday evenings,

$155.50 premium orchestra CC-G center, $77.50 orchestra CC-Z and balcony A-M, $64 orchestra V-Z and balcony N-Q; $45.50 balcony R-S; Friday and Saturday evenings, $173.50 premium orchestra CC-G center, $95.50 orchestra CC-Z and balcony A-M, $80.50 orchestra V-Z and balcony N-Q, $50.50 balcony R-S;

Saturday and Sunday matinees, $173.50 premium orchestra CC-G center, $86.50 orchestra CC-Z and balcony A-M, $73 orchestra V-Z and balcony N-G, $50.50 balcony R-S; note: prices may increase for performances April 26 to May 1









Bruno Mars is Vegas-bound for a Hooligans New Year's Eve

October 5th, 2015



Bruno Mars


Like he did two years ago, Bruno Mars and his eight-member Hooligans will spend New Year’s Eve  ringing in 2016 at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

You know it will be a sellout, so if you’re planning to be in Sin City amid the scenesters, here’s a tip: Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. PDT Friday (7  a.m. Hawaii time) via Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or through the casino’s website,

Tickets start at $150 per person, with high-roller packages available for admission and two-night hotel stays, with prices at $1,900 for two,  or $3,700 for two for a deal with more upscale perks.

Well, it’s Bruno, right? He’s still a contender to headline the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show, so popularity raises the stakes. Remember how he wowed ‘em two games ago?

Mars said in a statement released by the hotel: “Vegas, I’m coming. Let’s bring 2016 in at The Cosmopolitan.”

Doors open at 9 p.m.; the customary Mars/Hooligan  countdown will be timed for celebration at midnight.

While the show is open to family audiences, you must be 21 to make a table reservation.

A 'Side' show by Sondheim, with a little bright music (and then some)

October 4th, 2015





“Side  by Side by Sondheim,” playing its last three performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 9, 10 and 11) at Paliku Theatre, is a revelatory musical on several fronts:

• It deconstructs the theater fan’s notion that Stephen Sondheim is not for everyone. Indeed, the lyricist’s works feature a mouthful of lines — some with music by other composers like Leonard Bernstein, Richard Rodgers and Mary Rodgers — but his style is poetic and advances storylines. In other words, you may not  be familiar with his tunes, but in the context of a musical revue like “Side by Side,” you get to experience the scope of his magic on a wide spreadsheet of life experiences, from love to pain, from unsual relationships to imaginative hope, from the romantic to the comedic. In short: it’s no shame to hop onto the Sondheim bandwagon now — better late than never.

• The local cast assembled by producer Tom Holowach (he doubles as narrator) for this bon-bon of stage nourishment, is extraordinary and exact. Each trouper brings something wonderful to the party,  with distinctive, varying  styles and textures, suiting the premise and essence of the Sondheim mindset. The ensemble brings precious, personal instincts to the material at hand, and the revelation is simply that Jade Stice, Kim Anderson, Shari Lynn and Kip Wilson are first-rate actors as well as vocalists, using nuance of their vocal instrument to suggest and sustain the tone and theme of their songs. And for the most part, these aren’t the easiest songs to sing.

• A revue like “Side by Side” doesn’t land on an island stage too frequently; the last time was 1986,  when Shari Lynn coincidentally was in that presentation, and the show, like the performers, have mellowed with time, respecting the lyrics of Sondheim and embracing his storytelling curve.  That said, this is one of the season’s true surprises, mounted by Holowach with direction shared by actor Wilborn and choreographer Ramon del Barrio, who show wisdom and style in mounting this jewel.

• With virtually no sets, but occasional projections to set mood or punctuate a point, “Side by Side” depends on the audience to bring imagination and attention to yield color and finesse to the landscape. And here’s the rub: You may be whistling perhaps four to six tunes as you exit the theater, but you’ll savor the trove of treats each performer (as soloists, duo, trio, quartet or quintet —  radiates a luminous glow over  the next few days.

Yes, it’s that good. So joyous, you wonder why more folks aren’t joining the hurrahs and ovations at the final curtain.

Two pianists — Emmet Yoshioka and Sara Cate Langham — provide accompaniment, a la Ferrante and Teicher (remember them?) and this works very well, since the format is intimate yet supportive, never overpowering the vocal artistry but embellishing it.

There’s plenty to applaud:

• Shari’s dramatic, you-can-hear-the-pin-drop solo, on perhaps the most well known of Sondheim hits, “Send in the Clowns,” from “A Little Night Music.”

• The combative, explosive “A Boy Like That” and “I Have a Love” medley, from “West Side Story,” with Anderson and Slice taking warring female sides of the battling gangs, in that memorable take on “Romeo and Juliet.”

• Wilborn’s continental  bon vivant flair, on “Barcelona,” the see-sawing emotional endeavor from “Company.”

• Anderson’s francais-flavored “Ah Paree!,” rich with enthusiasm and amour, from “Follies.”

• Shari’s exquisite and hilarious  “The Boy From…,” a bossa nova send-up of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “The Boy From Ipanema,” from a modest and little-known show called “The Mad Show.” (And oh-so-funny, with her delivery of an unpronounceable place).Curiously, this daffy ditty features lyrics penned by Sondheim, who used  — who knows why — the monicker  Esteban Ria Nido for his credit.

• A taking-turns shared favorite, “You Gotta Get a Gimmick,” with Stice, Anderson and Shari playing the strippers in “Gypsy,”complete with idiosyncratic bumps and grinds from the days of vaudeville.

• Shari’s “Broadway Baby,” the stage anthem from “Follies,” with terrific body language and belting notes.

• Stice’s “I Never Do Anything Twice,” a Sondheim left-fielder from the movie,
“Seven Per Cent Solution,” with a tale and another tale about relationships.

•  Shari’s “Getting Married Today,” a piece de resistance from “Company” often logically dubbed the “rapid fire patter song” and delivered with break-neck, air-gasping, teeth rattling speed of  75 mph (or so it seems). A show-stopper, with Shari enacting a jittery bride on steroids, with words deliciouslystickingtogetherlikethis. Whew!

So much fun, so much artistry, so much solid showmanship.

Go. See. Enjoy. Applaud. If you love theater, you'll adore this one!





A musical revue featuring songs by Stephen Sondheim

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday (Oct. 9) and Saturday (Oct. 10) and 2 p.m. Sunday (Oct 11).

Where: Paliku Theatre, Windward Commmunity Colllege

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

Reservations: 235-7310 or (under Performing Arts/Paliku Theatre); a $3 service charge applies to online sales




'Five-0' lights up the fires, but the ratings remain static

October 3rd, 2015



Randy Couture as Jason Duclair 

Despite a pretty good script — involving a jailed arsonist, a pyromaniac with a penchant for poetic notes linked to the childhood “Ladybug, Ladybug” rhyme,

a bomb-sniffing robot and two explosive scenes — CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0” is flatlining in its Friday night ratings and viewership.

The second episode, themed “Lehu a Lehu (Ashes to Ashes),”  drew a 1.0 rating in the 18 to 49 demographics and  9.038 million viewers in its 8 p.m. (9 p.m. Mainland) timeslot Friday (Oct. 2). That equaled the first episode of season six last week — status quo, no big gains.

This  has prompted the zap2it website, which monitors TV ratings each week, to proclaim: “The first week of the 2015-16 season is in the books, and though several CBS shows are yet to premiere, one thing is clear: ‘Hawaii Five-0’ limped out of the gate.

“The season 6 premiere recorded series-low ratings, putting it at the back of the CBS pack in premiere week. With syndication deals already in place and the 100-episode mark in the rear view, it’s mostly a question of how much longer CBS wants it around.”

Not my observation, but the site's  first impression of the so-so “H50” showing; it  has not  yet commented on the déjà vu nature of the impact, or lack thereof,  of the second episode. But unless the figures start demonstrating an upward trend and a viable pulse rate, the obvious question  arises: could this be the final “H50” season?

Friday’s best demo numbers (1.7 rating) were posted for ABC’s “Shark Tank” (same hour as “Five-0,” 6,729 viewers);  ABC’s freshman show, “Dr. Ken,” snagged a 1.4 demo rating and 6,674  million viewers), a solid debut for a new show in the hour before “Five-0;”and the best viewership was logged by CBS’ “Blue Bloods” (11.089 million, 1.3 demo rating), matching last week’s performance.

“Lehu a Lehu” was frisky and fun, with a couple of menacing villains — each getting its due by the final credits.

Randy Couture, as the evil Jason Duclair, is suspected of the arsonist explosions, despite his being in the slammer. Even baddies have demons — Duclair’s is Rob Walsh as Andrew Trout, who wants fame and recognition beyond Duclair’s, but Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and team discover his poetry in his home and facial recognition technology helps put a face to his rampant crime while Duclair’s in prison.

Meanwhile, the Yakuza are still monitoring Kono (Grace Park) and Adam (Ian Anthony Dale), whose marriage and honeymoon are marked by torture and, in his case, PT. A sweet moment: she sits on his lap while he’s in a wheelchair, so he can “carry” her into their downsized home since the marriage.

And McG sounds like he’s about to pop the question, or at least show a ring for Catherine’s (Michelle Borth) third finger, left hand, in the next episode. It’s set up, and sealed with a kiss, in this one.

She, like Jerry (Jorge Garcia, continues to do cop work without a badge — she’s willing, but he’s building a case of say-a-good-word-for-me pledges from Kono to McG, so he can earn a paycheck.

Inside ‘Side by Side:’ A personal connection

September 30th, 2015



S bS color logo 2




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.




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