Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

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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Review: A Jake of all trades

December 6th, 2014


Jake Shimabukuro’s sold-out ukulele extravaganza Friday night (Dec. 5) at Blaisdell Concert Hall clearly demonstrated the islander’s ascent to the top tier of live performing acts.

Surrounded by his career-specific musical buddies,  Shimabukuro performed for a solid 2 ½ hours without intermission. Unquestionably, it was an instance of a hometown somebody nervous about performing before his fellow residents, teachers, musical peers and family — a homecoming that was the nightcap for a 140-show tour the past few months.

Nobody puts out a 150-minute performance. Nobody.
But here’s this cute, even cuddly, local dude alternating frenetic strumming and ferocious prancing and dancing, gracious and grateful, doing fist-bumps with all his buddies after each tune. Oh yeah, and cheek hugs, too.

From the audience perspective, it was a test for the bladder but for Shimabukuro, it was a triumph of endurance, dedication, creativity, artistry and appreciation.

I mean, he ultimately staged a four-tier program sharing his stage with stellar musicians from his past. And perhaps a handful in the packed auditorium had to make a quick bathroom visit.

What Shimabukuro offered was  a kaleidoscopic panorama of his abilities and his performing peers were with him, note for note, beat to beat.

In the end, it was crystal clear; Shimabukuro is a Jake of all trades.


Part 1: The Side Order Band (Chris Kamaka,   Asa Young, Del Beazley and Brian Tolentino) performed a suite of Hawaiiana,  joined by Shimabukuro. These dudes traveled to Japan while Shimabukuro was a budding star, and he opened for them. With tables turned, you could feel the aloha and the bruddahood among the guys; and since Shimabukuro doesn’t sing, he nonetheless mouthed the lyrics whenever Beazley or Kamaka sang  tunes ranging from the evergreen "Green Rose Hula" to Malani Bilyeu’s “Molokai, Sweet Home.
Part 2: Shimabukuro reunited with Pure Heart, for the first time in 15 years. So Jon Yamasato on guitar and vocals and Lopaka Colon on percussion and bird calls and other sound effects, chime in, for old times sake. There’s genuine camaraderie and fellowship in the reunion, and if you remember uke whiz way back then, he wore eyeglasses and sported a somewhat shaved head hairstyle. Now, there’s a full crop of black hair and the specs are gone. And the precision of his artistry also has leaped to stratospheric levels — this is no ordinary ukulele trouper.

Yamasato, a realtor by day, wondered what’s next for Pure Heart. Colon has a gig at the “Legends” spectacle “Rock-a-Hula”  at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, where his bird calls and versatility might not be appreciated as much as hometowners. No answers given, but Yamasato’s admission of his madness and disappointment when Shimabukuro decided to go solo at least removed the burden on his shoulders. Change is healthy, encourages growth and new journeys. The “How Can I Get Over” selection raised the issues but didn’t provide answers about closing one door and opening the next.

Part 3: Shimabukuro did a solo sequence, utilizing a beloved old 50-year-old Kamaka baritone ukulele acquisition. To share his adoration of the vintage instrument, he did a more gentle and romantic interlude including an affectionate “In My Life” from the Beatles catalogue, plus the emotional but soothing “Ave Maria.”

Part 4: A drum set and an electric bass sat on the otherwise vacant stage, so Neal Okimoto occupied the seat amid the drums and cymbals and Dean Taba navigated the bass. Of course, with that kind of backup, Shimabukuro sashayed into a jazz-framed set with fiery and flashy bursts on "Dragon." The savvy lighting effects enhanced the electricity and animation of the uke virtuoso, who continues to upgrade his profile and build on his legacy.

For the finale, Shimabukuro was back to his tenor ukulele, doing three or four more songs winding up with an energetic and expressive “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” the George Harrison composition that was a YouTube sensation that by now has earned pretty much a permanent spot on Shimabukuro’s playlist.

It was a night of pure magic ... with a lot  of heart.


Glen Larson dies; was creator of 'Magnum P.I."

November 15th, 2014

  Glen A. Larson, an iconic show biz figure whose love for Hawaii was overshadowed by his grand success in producing hit TV series, died Thursday of esophageal cancer at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. He was 77. I remember him from the era when he was a member of the Four Preps, a harmonic pop music ensemble of “26 Miles (Santa Catalina)” and “Down by the Station” fame, when the group appeared at the then-named Honolulu International Center Arena, now the Blaisdell Center Arena, in the late 1950s. Larson quickly became enamored of Hawaii and his producing credits included CBS’ hit series, “Magnum P.I.,” which he created with Donald Bellisario, with whom he had partnered in launching “Battlestar Galactica.” “Magnum” ­— following the success of the Jack Lord original “Hawaii Five-0” — gave Hawaii a major boost when Larson, who did the script, sought Tom Selleck to portray the titular Ferrari-driving mustachioed and aloha shirt-wearing crimefighter in the filmed-in-Hawaii CBS series that ran for 162 episodes from 1980 to 1988.

“He had beach homes in Portlock and near Waimanalo and he loved the Kahala (Hilton),” said entrepreneur Tom Moffatt, who had secured the Four Preps early on for a live concert. That initial gig became a life-long friendship between Moffatt and Larson.

Moffatt flew to California a few days ago  before Larson passed on.

Audy Kimura, the prolific island singer, guitarist, and composer, performed at Larson’s wedding celebration in Hawaii in 2009. He said they became fast friends and “he used to come, directly from his light with suitcases, to see me at Hy’s,” said Kimura. “Just before his death, he had called and asked if I could perform ‘Lovers & Friends’ on the phone, for the last time.” Larson had a hand in number of hit dramas all over the TV dial, in a wildly challenging range of genres, including the CSI-style “Quincy, M.E.,”  the sci-fi fave “Battleship Gallactica,” the crime drama “It Takes a Thief,” the tongue-in-cheek “Knight Rider,” the adventurous “Fall Guy” about a bounty hunter, the caper about “The Six Million Dollar Man,”  two diverse westerns, “B.J. and the Bear” and “Alias Smith and Jones,” and more. Survivors include his wife Jeannie, brother Kenneth, and nine children from former wives Carol Gourley and Janet Curtis. A son, James, said a memorial service is pending.       Photo credit: REX USA   larson

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'Five-0' at its 100th milestone: Future is right on the fence

November 8th, 2014



“Hawaii Five-0,” which just showed its milestone 100th episode Friday night (Nov. 7), deserves congratulations for the Big 1-0-0 achievement.


Yep, it’s been a ride.

The island-filmed show, in its repositioned Friday night slot on CBS  (8 p.m. here, 9 p.m. Mainland), has been a blessing in disguise. This is where fading shows are traditionally sent, but this is also where “Five-0” has earned its survival stripes and a new lease on life.

If the show remained in its Monday night nook, it would have been disasterville with stiff competition. Its challenge this season, for instance, would have been opposite NBC’s “The Black List” and ABC’s “Castle,” darlings among viewers.  CBS put “NCIS: Los Angeles” in the previous “Five-0” spot. And remember, the Monday airtime was at 9 p.m. (10 p.m. Mainland).

In Season 5, however, “Five-0” — with reruns already in syndication on TNT — still is in jeopardy of cancellation. But it is good company, since among the  CBS shows in the same boat are  “Blue Bloods,” “The Good Wife,” “CSI” and “Madam Secretary,” according to TV by the Numbers.

According to analysts, the aforementioned shows are right on the fence of renewals or cancellations by next May 15, when networks shine the green-for-go light, or red-for-retirement signals.

The likeliest to get another green light: “Blue Bloods,” because of its rating power on Friday night, following “Five-0.” And “Elementary,” “NCIS,” “NCIS: Los Angeles”  and
“NCIS: New Orleans” are among the dramas certainties to be renewed.

“Five-0” this season is drawing the most viewers in its time slot, but it has been second in the preferred barometer of adults 18 to 14, generally behind ABC’s “Shark Tank.” This is the category, not the viewer numbers,  that determine ad revenues for the network.

According to the Nielsen ratings, here’s how “Five-0” has performed this season:


Air date                18 to 49 demos           Viewer in millions

9/26                            1.20                                  8.99

10/3                            1.30                                  8.33

10/10                          1.20                                 9.19

10/17                          1.20                                 9.17

10/24                          1.10                                 8.92

10/31                          1.10                                 9.47

11/7                             1.20                                 8.91


Fridays have been generally steady, with CBS attracting the most viewers (8.81 million this week) and ABC posting the best adult 18 to 49 demo numbers (1.6 this week).

Friday’s most-viewed series generally is “Blue Bloods”  (11.41 million this week) and the top adult demo leader has been “Shark Tank” (1.9 this week).

Certainly, a procedural in its fifth season maintains a loyal following, but if you’ve not yet become part of the viewing ohana, it’s a bit late to join in. Numbers often fade, rather than grow, over time.

Regarding “Ina Puha (If Perhaps),” the 100th episode, it was an invention/reflection of things and themes past and present, with McGarrett and Company in dual/alternate reality/fantasy sequences.  Wo Fat kidnaps and tortures McG. Dad McG is alive;  and other key players are assembled in before/now mode.

If you’ve been a follower, it’s flashback with a twist; if you’re a newbie, it’s formidable overload. Yes? No?
One great element: “All for One,” the special original tune composed expressly for “Five-0” by John Ondrasik, the leader of  the group Five for Fighting who yielded such hit tunes as “Superman (It’s Not Easy),” “100 Years” and “Riddle (You and I).”  It was a splendid idea pitched by “Five-0” producer Peter Lenkov to the composer — and show aired the entire tune, which characterized the flavor of the special episode.

Yet the show has had its moment of glory, in Season 1, when “Five-0” made the Guinesss World Records in 2012 for the “Highest-Rated New Show in the U.S.,” with a record 19.34 million viewers for “Kai e’e,” its Jan. 23 2011 episode.

Hana hou?