Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Taimane: Reaching for the stars, performing like one

March 27th, 2015



7 to 10 p.m. Saturday (March 28),

Bishop Museum lawn and planetarium



For her latest CD, Taimane Gardner reaches for the stars for inspiration and shines like one as a result.

The disc is entitled “We Are Made of Stars” (Taimane Gardner 213), being formally launched Saturday at a CD release party at Bishop Museum.

She may not yet be a true household name, but visitors have seen and heard Taimane, as she is billed, since her ukulele and vocal artistry have been widely exposed in performances with the late Don Ho as a featured act, and also at Waikiki hotels like the Hyatt Regency  Waikiki where she strums her trusty ukulele as a soloist.

This self-produced CD looms as her ticket to stardom — her most creative effort to date and one in which most of her compositions are inspired by what’s out there.

Ambitious is the defining word here; Taimane explores elements from the universe to shape and mold her melodies.  The key: Performing the melodies as stand-alone tunes for her live performances. That’s to say, within the context of the album, she has fashioned a concept disc with credibility, merit and invention. The skies and stars have long had an impact on Hawaiians, from navigators to worshippers, so why not a musician as well? But will they stand up outside of the concept album?

Her style and creativity would prevail on terra firma,  for sure, and there’s no reason why a female ukester can’t make the charts. Homegrown sensation Jake Shimabukuro made it on his own terms, and Taimane can also take flight.

The sky’s the limit, so “Jupiter” — one of the most energetic tracks here —is quite the instrumental jam, with choral riffs, and richly flashy without being showy.

“Mars” also is dazzling amongf  the finds. Her ukulele style is well served here, with alternately simple and sizzling strumming. Wordless, she lets her fingers do all the talking and the dancing — but the song also features Tahitian lyrics and chanting.

Similarly, “Mercury” is a vivid and sparkling excursion with nimble and contagious strumming that has become her forte.

There’s a mix of different languages here and there — Japanese, Hawaiian, Native American — on  “Mother Earth,” a Hawaiian mele with requisite chant format and syncopation, with Dr. Pualani Kanahele featured amid a familiar “E Ala E” chant and the evergreeb Japanese “Sakura” tune.

For contrast, examine “Father Sky,” softer in tone and delivery, with quiet nobility and dignity.

Overall, it’s all spacey but satisfying. It's time to fully welcome Taimane to the galaxy of greats.

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Lawsuit questions CBS’ use of ‘Five-0’ theme song

March 24th, 2015


wave On one side: the children of composer Morton Stevens, pictured below,  the composer of the iconic “Hawaii Five-0” theme song, expressly for the Jack Lord original, and still featured in the Alex O’Loughlin reboot.


mortOn the other side: CBS, the TV network which aired the original “Five-0” from 1968 to 1980 and continues to host the updated show.

The issue: a Stevens family lawsuit, alleging that CBS wrongfully filed a renewal registration for use of the “Five-0” theme after Stevens died and the TV reboot consequently infringes on their rights.

Stevens, an Emmy-winning creator of film and TV scores, died in 1991, about six years before a renewal copyright decision for the current Hawaii-filmed version of the procedural was in the making, according to the Hollywood Reporter and other online websites.

So the composer’s children filed a lawsuit, contending that CBS had no right to retain and use the iconic theme song. The reboot now is in the midst of completing filiming its fifth season.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who watches “Five-0,” wrote a decision regarding rights to Martin Scorcese’s “Raging Bull” film, the decision for which may have impact on whether CBS can legally continue to use the theme song.

(In the “Raging Bull” instance, Paula Petrella, whose father wrote works that ultimately became the basis of the “Bull” film, but he died before the end of the copyright term; an issue was whether Petrella’s delayed lawsuit filing should  preclude her claims against MGM and 20th Century Fox, with justice Ginsburg deciding not to impose a “sue soon, or forever hold your peace” ruling for copyright lawsuits. This implies that the Stevens may bypass the fact that they were put on notice in 1997,”  according to the Hollywood Reporter).

The bottom line: Under copyright law, for works created before 1978, when an author dies before the original term of a copyright grant expires, rights revert to the heirs.

The new lawsuit claims CBS has prepared a “new derivative recording of the ‘Hawaii Five-0’ theme and embodied it in the new series and the soundtrack album.”

The filing by the Stevens family seeks actual damages and profits or alternatively, statutory damages.

A CBS spokesman said “We were surprised and disappointed by the lawsuit filed by the heirs of Morton Stevens more than five years after the new ‘Hawaii Five-0’ premiered, without any prior discussion between the parties. Although we have great respect and appreciation for Mr. Stevens’ work on the original ‘Hawaii Five-0’ theme song, his heirs; claims are without merit and we will vigorously defend this case.”


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First-day Ross ticket sales brisk; Maui adds 2nd show

March 22nd, 2015

With 40 per cent of the 7,000 available seats sold Sunday (March 22) in the first six hours for Diana Ross’ June 13 Hawaii concert debut at Blaisdell Arena, promoter-presenter Rick Bartalini of California has extended first-dibs sales to residents for another day today (March 23).

On Maui, the June 14 concert is nearly sold out, so by popular demand, a second performance is set for 7:30 p.m. June 15 at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center's Castle Theatre. Public sales begin at 10 a.m. Friday (March 27), but MACC members can secure tickets from 10 a.m. Tuesday (March 24) for the added performance. To join, call 808-243-4236.

Folks with a Hawaii zip code are able to buy up to eight  seats , from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today (March 23), in person only  at the Blaisdell box office. The buy-early courtesy to Hawaii fans is a result of the swift sellout for  homegrown star Bruno Mars’ concerts last year at Blaisdell, mostly snapped  up by folks outside of the Hawaii region, resulting in overpriced tickets from scalpers and online resellers, a major frustration for hometowners.

Public sales beyond Hawaii go on sale Friday (March 27). Breakdowns on what levels of tickets were bought in the first wave have not been revealed for the ex-leader of The Supremes.dianaross Prices range from a low of $45 to a high of $225, with seats also available at $125, $85 and $65.  Maui admission is $250, $150, $100 and $75. Service fees apply. To order by phone, call 1-800-745-3000 (Honolulu) or 1-808-242-7469 (Maui). Honolulu online sales will continue at; on Maui, at; in-person sales also will continue at Honolulu and Maui box offices. Ross is the soulful superstar hitmaker of “Baby Love,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand),” “Come See About Me,” “Endless Love,” “I’m Comin’ Out” and “Theme From ‘Mahogany,’” some while she fronted The Supremes, some as a break-out soloist. As an actress, she starred in such film vehicles as “Mahogany,” “The Wiz” and “Lady Sings the Blues.”

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Robert Cazimero is in his prime; 'Windows' has surprises

March 22nd, 2015



Roland Cazimero and Leinaala Heine Kalama make surprise appearances at Saturday's Hawaii Theatre concert.

Robert Cazimero is in the prime of his professional and personal lives, if his Saturday (March 21) Hawaii Theatre concert is a barometer.

His brilliant show, “Open Windows: An Evening With Robert Cazimero,” was a genuine thrill, brimming with mele and hula and storytelling and sharing. It was a grand, glorious demonstration of the veteran musician-raconteur-singer-
keyboarder-kumu hula’s wizardry in mounting a show that reflected his stature and savvy as the pioneering Hawaiian entertainer and hula teacher of his generation, while advancing simultaneously as a seasoned and down-home local boy still with plenty of heart.

And surprise! With on-the-mend brother Roland Cazimero out of sick bay, strumming stand-up bass fiddle midway through the evening, along with hula favorite Leinaala Heine Kalama rendering sit-down hula by his side, Robert provided a wave of the unexpected. Bro Roland had been on a medic-mandated year’s leave from the performance stage, so his brief but spirited few moments during a contagious segment saluting the act’s regal reign as one-time headliners of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel’s Monarch Room, was worth the price of admission. Roland  looked as fit as his stand-up fiddle; and that semi-retired kumu ‘Ala, often dubbed the third brother, also made a cameo that simply elevated the concert to  homecoming/nostalgia ranks. She and Roland were all smiles and beams, glowing with the roaring cheers of fans who’ve missed them in Caz gatherings in recent months.

The Royal sequence was dressed with a backdrop of Diamond Head, the view the performers had when they were ensconced at the Pink Palace, and with gents and hula ladies who have also graced that iconic Waikiki stage also on stage, one must wonder and  hope why the room sits idle when this kind of majestic montage can easily restore the music that was the magic in a Hawaii of the recent past.

And that Burton White, former g.m. and artistic director of the Hawaii Theatre, also was in the house, made it a special reunion for those who’ve savored, patronized and applauded these figures over the decades.

With 11 widow frames hanging above a set that included two rattan sofas, one side chair, an end table, a lamp and beaucoup palms, anthuriums and Monsterra leaves greenery,  this was clearly a breezy glimpse of a Hawaii that some folks have given up  on. With Robert serving as a one-man orchestra, playing piano accompaniment on a grand Baldwin, this was artistry of  the rarest kind. OK, Manu Boyd was on hand (another reunion, he being a former member of Robert’s halau) to chant while playing on an ipu, and Roland’s bass was a brief second instrument on stage.

It was like being in Robert’s living room, with aloha and love to spare.
Oh, there was also an homage to another disappearing and tarnished Hawaii tradition, Lei Day, which the Caz carrying the Don Blanding banner with popular Waikiki Shell May Day concerts for more than two decades. Oh, the date still is on the calendar yearly, but  the date-specific celebration was tabled several years ago.

The Royal montage featured classic songs from the duo’s residency there, including “The Royal Hawaiian Hotel,”  but the seven hula sequences, with the gents appearing as trios, duos and soloists, also provided artistry akin to a mini-Merrie Monarch Festival spectacle.

After intermission, the incomparable Raiatea Helm, occasionally strumming ukulele with  bass support from Nick Lum, provided a glimpse at four generations of the Genoa Keawe ohana, sharing hula and mele. If you didn’t know that the late Auntie Genoa was born on Halloween, the Halloween masks and treat bags might have been initially puzzling;  while Helm had her solo moments singing hometown faves like “Kalama Ula,” with a lingering and powerful falsetto, it was the arrival of Keawe granddaughter Pomaikai Keawe Lyman’s guest appearance/duet on grandma’s trademark hold-the-note-with-a-smile “Alika” that brought down the house.

Hu‘ewa, a trio performing prior to intermission, provided a powerful and potent sound at once reflecting a rustic past and a robust future.

All in all, a bright night for performers and spectators alike.



Hawaii Theatre cuts two in a struggle to survive

January 23rd, 2015



Above: Ruth Bolan, president of Hawaii Theatre Center; right, Burton White with the Brothers Cazimero. Star-Advertiser and MidWeek photos.

What just happened at the Hawaii Theatre — the termination Jan. 31 of Burton White, the artistic director and general manager, and Matt James, the house manager — is a reflection that plagues other community cultural groups.
Now led by Ruth Bolan, who succeeded Sarah Richards last June as president of the Hawaii Theatre Center, she and the Hawaii Theatre are struggling for survival, with a $350,000 deficit expected in the upcoming 2015-16 season starting this fall. Its budget for the season also is an identical $350,000.
Thus the Hawaii board of directors had to mandate trims to remain afloat, so White (who joined the theater administration in 1995) and James — were part of the belt-tightening strategic planning decision, said Bolan.
Ruth Bolan, the Hawaii Theatre Center’s president who succeeded longtime honcho Sarah Richards last June, said two of 14 staff positions were terminated as part of the theater’s strategic planning.
“The financial reality, after six months or so, meant we had to flatten out some budgetary items,” said Bolan. “The reaction, from the board, is that we had to let go Burton White and Matt James.”
White declined immediate comment, but replied via email after mounting buzz that he was out: “It’s true, nothing for the record yet.”
White has had a long relationship with the historic downtown venue, from the time he produced with Tommy Aguilar the “Dreamgirls” musical which featured then-unknown Loretta Ables (now Sayre). Over the yers, he championed Hawaiian music spectacles with The Brothers Cazimero and produced the popular winter bonbon “A Merry Christmas With Friends and Nabors,” starring Jim Nabors and a coterie of island stars, which ran a decade largely as a benefit for the theater.
That’s what the entertainment community needs — but at a price. While his salary has not been disclosed, nor that of his successor as director of programming, John Parkinson, the challenge is to maintain and build on White’s accomplishments and level of professionalism. On future show bookings, Parkinson — formerly Ballet Hawaii’s honcho —is a new hire already at work who will collaborate with Bolan, who’ll don the hat of artistic director and help shape the programming.
James, whose duties as house manager, was to oversee the bar concession. That role now will be provided by an outside concessionaire, Christian Self of Bevy, a Kakaako specialty bar hangout.
John Parkinson, formerly with Ballet Hawaii, already is on the job as a newly titled director of programming, handling some of the booking chores. He will work with Bolan and map out the performance agenda for 2015-16 season, beginning next fall; Bolan will pull up her sleeves and manage the staff.
Bolan has legit theatrical credits as a former producer on Broadway in the mid-1980s, with additional gigs off Broadway in New York and at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
Among Bolan’s plans over the next two decades:
• Foster growth with an eye on attracting family audiences, but maintain some of the Hawaiiana the theater has been known for as well as incorporate other spokes on the cultural wheel: ballet, symphony, pop music, film, dance, theatrical endeavors.
• Attract a future generation — the iPad, YouTube crowd — whose parents remember the “old” Hawaii Theatre pre-renovations, who may not yet have witnessed one of the productions post-renovations.
• Table plans for backstage expansion, once on the theater’s agenda, to create wing and fly space required by larger, particularly traveling shows. “This would require a $25 million capital improvement project we can’t do now,” she said. “We don’t want to do ‘The Lion King’ and can’t — we would need 800 more seats.”
The Hawaii Theatre seats 1,400 and 600 orchestra seats, with 800 in loges and balcony, appropriate for smaller shows. “I do have some ambitious plans, but can’t divulge them yet.”
“I wish we could book a show daily,” said Bolan, “because a day without a show is a like a day without sunshine.”
She added: “We wish Burton well and hope he will produce a show or two for the theater theater next season,” said Bolan.

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