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'Kopy Katz 2' has a glamor cat, but requires some fixing

By
July 22nd, 2016



Derek Daniels glams it up as Prince Hanalei; Charles Degala is Alfred Apaka, Cathy Foy is Hilo Hattie

katz1 katz2

 

 

 

 

“Waikiki Kopy Katz,” relocated to Treetops Restaurant in Manoa Valley but returning in the future to the Hale Koa Hotel, adds new island legends to the roster in spacious venue accessible to Honolulu audiences.

Alas, the results are mixed .

The revue intends to salute newsmakers, now all deceased,  on the show biz front from the Waikiki landscape of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. This nostalgic endeavor — call it "Kopy Katz 2" — gets lively and robust with the addition of the glam and gay Prince Hanalei, performed by local dancer-choreographer Derek Daniels, with plumes and feathers galore, with shimmying and twirling a-plenty. He's visually a glamor Kat and the one to see in this outing.

Decked in flamboyant Tahitian headgear and costumed in sparkly leotards accented by feather décor (and notice the blue lipstick), Daniels is the essence of the “South Sea Island Magic” he prances to. But he takes liberties; on another number with a chorus of five hula girls dubbed the Manoa Dancers, he does a hula about mountains and waters, depicting Mother Nature’s charms. But there’s a cultural clash here: the hula, which is Hawaiian, is performed in essentially what is a Tahitian outfit. May not be a big deal among causal viewers, but another hula later in the show, Daniel donned aloha attired accented by a lei and white trousers, and was a lot more legit and eye-appealing. Tradition matters.

Also new to the roster is Johnny Kai as Don Ho, clad in dark glasses peering from beneath a floppy hat. Kai needs to perfect his Ho impression — a slur here, a mumble there — and attempt to recreate the sound that is globally revered as Mr. Waikiki’s. Worse, Kai does his Ho shtick on floor level, fronting the elevated stage, with a bright spotlight yielding a stark image that again doesn’t quite elevate the salute Ho deserves. Kai can make his entrance from the floor amid darkness, but Ho deserves  bigness  and brightness — on stage, maybe with a prop like a drinking glass to toast during “Tiny Bubbles.” And since there’s a sing-along with the audience on “Pearly Shells,” the action should definitely move to stage center. With fitting illumination.

Marshall Kaniho debuts as Martin Denny on keyboards, more as an accessory than a headliner, but his cheerfulness at least brings personality to his impresh. But where is the “Quiet Village,” with gongs and birdcalls and exotic sound effects, that made Denny a sensation?

Otherwise the show is capable hands. Cathy Foy, utilizing a new hand mike for the first time, needs to distance her mouth from the mike, to eliminate an echo-ey sound effect through her Hilo Hattie tribute. When she delivers the hip hop on “Hilo Hattie Does the Hilo Hop,” the prevalent pink/red jell on the spotlight is intrusive and artificial; better to go brightly, without the color effect. Adjustments will upgrade this entire segment.

Charles Degala excels as the beloved baritone, Alfred Apaka, notably on “Sweet Leilani.” His costume is spot-on, too — red lei and red sash, contrasting the white shirt and trousers. Just what we all remember.

And incidental Hawaii visitor Frank Sinatra (capably interpreted by Randy Smith) easily was the evening’s most suave figure in nifty black-tux (and later with white jacket), especially on his swing-ding “New York, New York” and “Fly Me to the Moon.”

The show opens with a trio of Andrew Sisters-type performers clad in military khaki, but only Foy sang “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B,” which is awkward because the gals are gyrating but minus the 1940s harmony characterizing the ditty made famous by the sisters and eventually became a signature for Bette Midler. In its present form, the number doesn't deliver.

And emcee Bo Irvine was off in timing and thinking. The stand-up comic generlly is a funny soul, but did some missteps on opening night, including a gaffe when he mentioned Sinatra’s wife as Eva Gabor when it should have been Ava Gardner. This is a fixable moment — and surely, veteran entreprenuer Jack Cione, who conceived and directed "Kopy Katz," has already summoned  a rehearsal to make amends. The show is set to run three more Thursdays, through Aug. 11.

 

 

‘’WAIKIKI KOPY KATZ”

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, through Aug. 11, 2016

Where: Treetops Restaurant, Manoa Valley

Cost: $48.50 includes buffet dinner and show (buffet from 6 p.m.)

Reservations: 988-6838

 

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

By
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.

 

kingKim

>> “The King and I,” Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Lincoln Center

lct.org; 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).

 

psycho

“American Psycho — The Musical,” Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre

americanpsychobroadway.com; 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).

 

micheljack

 

>> “Blackbird,” Belasco Theatre

blackbirdbroadway.com; 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

>> “Bright Star,” Cort Theatre

brightstarmusical.com; 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

By
June 26th, 2016



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

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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

By
June 7th, 2016



 

jimmee

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 http://www.uhfoundation.org/

 

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Applause, applause! Arcadia troupers take on ‘Broadway’

By
May 15th, 2016



 

 

 

 

Scenes from the show; Dancers Joh and Karen Kotake, a  pair of "Lion King" moments with a cheetah puppet and zebra character, Anne Hedani as "Annie," Sheila Black as a Pink Lady, the rooster in the "Chicken Dance" number, and Yvonne Toma in a hula moment.

Cover of "Lulllaby of Broadway" program

Cover of "Lulllaby of Broadway" program

kotakes lionking zebra annie pinksheila chiciken yvonne

 

Jack Cione’s “Lullaby of Broadway” edition of his “Follies” show, playing three weekends through May 29 at the Arcadia Retirement Residence, is easily the best in the series. This 11th annual extravaganza, largely featuring the retirement troupers of the Arcadia, is a pastiche of some of the memorable songs from the Great White Way, with songs and dances from familiar shows along with snippets from the Great American Songbook.
The highlight truly is a “Lion King” adaptation, with the 34-member cast parading in eye-popping costumes rendered by Bill Doherty, parading to the refrains of “Circle of Life.” There are several iPhone moments: a voodoo priestess, a large king of the jungle, a cheetah puppet with moving legs, two giant rams with curly-cue horns, a zebra with spot-on stripes. So what if there are no giraffes (wouldn’t fit in the Arcadia theater, or that iconic elephant that wouldn’t be able to roam through the aisles). A few unexpected guests, like a snake and a gorilla, clearly are add-ons to the Disney original.

Running through the show: passionate expression and professional pride among the mostly amateur cast, notably clad in superb costumes with Cione trademarks galore. Feathers. Sequins. Exotic dancers. Minsky show queens with bejeweled gowns and glitz. Beloved Hollywood and Broadway luminaries bewigged and bejeweled. Punches of vivid colors throughout the ranks.

“It would take a $50,000 budget to get these costumes for a show,” said Cione of the eye candy. Doherty and his aides, including Becki Cuellar-Han and Derek Daniels, fashioned the costumes with volunteers from the cast helping to stitch, assemble and glue-gun fabric and frou-frou to create that swanky finished look. Some garb were rented, but most were expressly created for this venture.

Doherty designed the difficult and whimsical costumes for “Lion King.” And United Laundry Services donated a 50 white linen sheets which were transformed into eight chicken costumes for a barnyard hoedown to the “Chicken Dance.” Willard the Rooster and Henny Penny also appear in yellow, and the fowls even have spunky beaks. Savers, the resale garb store, also donated odds and ends to accentuate and adorn the varied costumes, and ingenuity and recycling paid off, too — the stage curtain backdrop originally were Arcadia drapes discarded for a renovation.

If you’ve been to a previous “Follies,” you know the drill: cast members lip-synch to a variety of familiar music, in lavish dress not commonly seen on a local stage, and desire is part of the design and delivery. It's director Cione's antidote to prevent senior stagnation: if you're active and productive, you'll doubtlessly feel young and relevant; the concept works.

This is a crew accustomed with little, but makes it go a long way. Cione scopes music and mines his imagination a year ahead, to mount a musical with 15 scenes.

The opener focuses on “Something Rotten,” last season’s Broadway biggie, with emphasis on “God, I Hate Shakespeare,” a lament by competing playwrights who figure the only way to outdo The Bard and his prose is to present a musical with lyrics that are sung, not spoken.

This gets faucet flowing with parodies galore, with signage-posters from Broadway shows like “Les Miserables” and “Phantom of the Opera” adding credence to the theme.

Midway, there are additional pokes to the Great White Way, via “Forbidden Broadway,” a New York brand that satirizes classic stage stars and iconic tunes. So Sheila Black and Betty O’Rourke make like a pair of Carol Channings, with a track of “Hello Dolly” in raspy voice; Patty Dela Cruz enacts “I Could Have Danced All Night,” in Julie Andrews mode, Anne Hedani in red wig and red dress renders “Tomorrow” in the guise of “Annie,” and Chuck Lewis, with a black cape and a half-face mask, enacts “Phantom of the Opera.”

Applause, applause.

There are prancing nunsence nuns, pink-cladded ladies in a “Think Pink (50 Shades of Pink)” parade that includes a quick refrain from John Rowles’ “Cheryl Moana Marie” (a departure from the Broadway theme) and beads and baubles in a tableau of dance and ritiuals of India, with Allyson Doherty, a future senior in the “Follies” company, in a splendid exotic dance of charm.

A round of burlesque is skittish and uneven, though the classic take-off from “Gypsy,” embracing “You Gotta Get a Gimmick,” showcases abundant show- and glow-manship from Geovanna Lewis, Bonnie Parsons and Marci-Taylor-Kaneshige, re-inventing the three gimmick routines from the original show.

A brief scene dubbed “Walk Through Paradise” features Elaine Stroka mouthing Melveen Leed, with Yvonne Toma rendering a hula — another instance of an “extra,” as opposed to a legit Broadway moment. But so what?

As usual, prime dance soloists such as John and Karen Kotake take on several leads, demonstrating their long ties with the Hawaii Ballroom Dance Assn., whose members solidify the dance element of the show. “Lullaby of Broadway” will evolve into an expanded show, “Mardi Gras Follies,” when a cast of 60 dancers and performers from Arcadia unite with HBDA dancers in a concert at 7 p.m. June 25 at Kaimuki High School Auditorium. The Kotakes are the most prolific HBDA soloist who have a featured mambo number in the “Les Girls” segment and they have numerous ensemble moments, too.

“Follies” is primarily intended to be an in-house show for Arcadia residents and the folks from the sister residence 15 Craigside. You need to know someone at either facility to score a ticket and gain entrance; otherwise, you’re out of luck. There is no admission free, but donations are gladly accepted following the performances, during a meet-and-greet session with the cast. Sellouts are common.

If you’re planning ahead, log these details: “Follies” 2017, the 12th annual show, is set for an April 27 to May 7 run next year. Its theme: “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries.”

 

 

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“LULLABY OF BROADWAY”

What: A musical spectacle, featuring a cast of 34, to raise funds for the Arcadia

When: Remaining shows at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 pm. Sundays, through May 29

Where: Arcadia Theatre

Information: 983-1808

Cost: Free, but staged expressly for Arcadia residents; you need to know an Arcadian to secure admission

 

“MARDI GRAS FOLLIES”
What: An expanded version of the Arcadia show, featuring 60 performers, bolstered with dancers from the Hawaii Ballroom Dance Assn.; also featuring guest singer Joy Abbott, comic Bo Irvine and Frank Sinatra stylist Randy Smith

When: 7 p.m. June 25

Where: Kaimuki High School Auditorium

Tickets: $35 general admission, (open seating), $50 quick step premium, including reserved parking, priority entry and front row seating

Reservations: Hawaii Ballroom Dance Assn. at 753-8673 or Shirley Ota at 456-2129, www.hbdahawaii.org

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