Robert Cazimero’s 2023 celebration of the spirit of Christmas – last night (Dec. 9) and this afternoon today (Dec. 20) at Leeward Community College Theatre– is the season’s best gift.
Loyalists know that Cazimero, the esteemed artistic director and resident star attraction, will deliver a stupendous production with solemn moments of peaceful joy along with giddy and engaging comedics to touch the soul and bring out the smiles.
So, if you gifted yourself with tickets, it’s money well spent to support Cazimero’s Halau Na Kamalei o Lililehua as well as the host theater, located in a zip code that demands freeway journeys for townies.
The performance, engineered by the singer-kumu hula’s brilliance, includes fresh concepts and content:
— A trio, dubbed Bob’s Boys by Cazimero, provided the music: Richard Heirakuji on bass, Kaipo Hale on ‘ukulele, and Keala Chock on guitar. The gents are seasoned musicians, and Hale is kumu’s best friend, so the support entwines friendship and fellowship as a bonus.
— Kalenaku DeLima Parrish (pictured above, with Cazimero) is the lone guest-star singer, with roots with Kapena, where she was vocalist and keyboardist for the family act led by her dad, Kelly “Boy” DeLima. So, she is a veteran performer who brings freshness and form to a new environment.
— Standby regulars in a Cazimero show include the Ladies of the Royal Dance Company, known for stylish grace, and the irrepressible lads of Na Kamalei, with a few taking alternating solo stints. And since the dancers are also formidable singers as well, there’s always substance and surprises from the ranks.
Cazimero is accustomed to theme his programs, so this one is no different; the first half is themed Green, the second half White, though the palettes are not restrictive.
The show began with “The Angel Medley,” with the entire cast mingling and chiming together in vocals, fronting a simple set of triangular motif “trees” as the solitary backdrop capable of changing hues.
Merriment prevailed with fun tunes like “Ring, Ring, Ring” and “Doodle Doodle Dee Doo” melding into “We Wish You the Merriest Hawaiian Christmas.” A garland of island holiday ditties followed, including “Mele Kalikimaka Ia Kakou,” “Christmas in Paradise” and “Mele Kalikimaka Ei Nei.”
The halau guys showed their versatility, singing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” (in the Green sector) and also danced “Hawaiian Hospitality.”
Soloist Parrish offered warm vocals in both halves, “Do You Hear What I Hear” in the first act, “Merry Christmas Darling” in the second, and her presence outside of the Kapena circle introduces her to a broader audience.
Unexpected thrills unfolded after intermission:
— The halau bros provided a stunning and inventive moment of blissful talent, building on their acclaimed hula, when each dancer appeared on stage, carrying a chair or a stool, to render “I Love Christmas,” as a hand-clapping dance (pictured above). That is, they sang while clapping hands, doing a variety of motions, and uncorking hidden skills that can be credited to Cazimero’s imaginative choreography.
— There was another joyous moment, when Cazimero sang “Joy to the World,” with halau member Kaipo Dudoit (pictured below,) performing on violin, showcasing breadth and versatility – and triggering a special kind of emotional experience.
— Then there was the whimsy and wackiness, when Cazimero reflected on small-kid-time memories with family and brother Roland, on “My Friend Al,” which segued into “Me and My Dinosaur” (pictured below), engaging the pleasurable vocal and dancing charms of the halua. And making a guest appearance: a dinosaur figure (identity not known) singing and prancing, like a larger-than-life toy in animation mode.
— And an emotional and spiritual wave, with Cazimero rendering “Go to the Light,” with the entire ensemble joining in, with halau dude Nick Lum also soloing.
Cazimero had several prime moments from his piano, but his artistry and perspective in creating a holiday package is his key talent, his overview tapping elements as diverse as his followers, from the young to the elderly. His “From Our House to Your House” tune reflected his notion of sharing and caring
Finally: this event included a rare “hana hou” by Cazimero, who appeared centerstage after the curtain fell (pictured above), sharing – again, in the spirit of the season – a special treat for the Leeward Theatre gang. He returned to his piano and put his vocal imprint on “The Christmas Song,” the Mel Torme evergreen composition, which clearly is the gift that keeps giving.
Merry Christmas. …
And that’s Show Biz…