July 22nd, 2016
Derek Daniels glams it up as Prince Hanalei; Charles Degala is Alfred Apaka, Cathy Foy is Hilo Hattie
“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.)