“The Bodyguard,” now at the Diamond Head Theatre, is a problematic stage musical with a wafer-thin script, centering on an unlikely relationship between a blues-pop singer and her security guard. The key missing ingredient: no chemistry between the two leads.

Were it not for the show’s final two songs – “I Will Always Love You” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” running perhaps 7 to 10 minutes, and vibrating with emotion and excellence  – this is a play that otherwise goes woefully wrong.

While the score is rich with songs associated with the late Whitney Houston, rendered here by a diva named Rachel Marron and played by Bailey Barnes, a flimsy script fails to develop a credible plot between Marron, who inherits and is initially repulsed to have security agent Frank Farmer, played by Andrew Erwin, to guard her. It’s not the stalker that ruins the fun, it’s a bum book.

Andrew Erwin as Frank Farmer, Bailey Barnes as Rachel Marron in “The Bodyguard.” Photo by Brandon Miyagi, courtesy DHT.

There’s no fault with the cast, but the culprit is a script which lacks spark and sizzle, stifling and challenging director John Rampage with an impossible task: to try to bring this deflated balloon to life.

Based on a 1992 Warner Bros. movie, starring Houston as the songbird and Kevin Costner as her security guard, “Bodyguard” features a book by Alexander Dinelaris and a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan. The melodies are shoe-horned into the script, so essentially, “Bodyguard” is a jukebox musical with mega-wattage hits, but the tunes don’t propel the story. It all plays like a work in progress.

Amid the grandeur of DHT’s still-new facility, Dawn Oshima’s sets are woefully inadequate, and fails to establish the splendor deserving of a pop diva. There are vertical drops and scrims, seats and a sofa, and a large bed for Rachel’s home; tables and chairs  populate a karaoke lounge.

Such shortfalls suggest the star resides in a motel room. And aside from a projection of a modest stained-glass mural in a church scene, and a double-arched frame in an Academy Awards moment, DHT has not yet perfected its use of fly space technology. Is this due to a lack of budget or simply a shortage of imagination?

Yet an enthusiastic cast of 30, garbed in Madison Gholstone’s exquisite costumes (red, black, glittery silver and gold) for every body shape imaginable, give the production some life. And Aiko Schick’s hair and makeup are equally stunning.

The ensemble of singers-dancers, choreographed by Christine Yasunaga. Photo by Brandon Miyagi, courtesy DHT.

The kudos, however, go to choreographer Christine Yasunaga’s perpetual-motion, vigorous and splashy dance routines, which validate the notion that the production has a pulse despite the absence of atmosphere.

The show has had a storied past; “Bodyguard” was ready to roll, in the fall of 2019, but was saddled and shelved because of the pandemic that would last three years. Director Rampage, choreographer Yasunaga and musical director Darcy Yoshinaga  were among the behind-the-sceners who prevailed, updating their participation for this run.  

As Rachel, Barnes has the mammoth mission of delivering Houston’s big numbers, including “How Will I Know,” “The Greatest Love of All,” “I’m Every Woman,” “One Moment in Time,” plus the show-closing emotional ballad, “I Will Always Love You” and the hand-clapping, foot-stomping “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” finale. However tardy, this burst of life is welcome.

The sidebars provide some interest; Bailey’s real-life kid brother, Erye-Jordan Barnes, plays her son Fletcher in the performance I saw; the role is double-cast with Ezekiel Kekuna in some shows.  La Tanya Fa‘amausili-Siliato, Sade Frame and Anjelica Glasgow as backup singers have the moves and voices to earn some deserved hurrahs. And Dwayne Sakaguchi as Rory has no shortage of leaps and bounds in his rigorous and athletic dances, a supporting role that feels like a lead.

Nicki Marron, played by Rache Sapla, is Rachel’s sister, and has several vocal solos including “Saving All My Love for You,” but her delivery seems muted and restrained, kind of underperformed so as not to collide with Rachel’s more effusive delivery.

Erwin, as Rachel’s late-blooming love interest, has his own moments to remember, toying with a deliberately crude “I Will Always Love You” during the karaoke scene, and segues to a competent beau-protector by the final curtain.

And oh, Ben Walsh as the stalker, sings a few bars, in the waning moments of the show…a nice surprise.

Audiences will adore most of the songs and may not be bothered by the lame script.

The musical jolts include “One Moment in Time,” by Albert Hammond and John Bettis, from the Oscar-nominated flick, “Queen of the Night,” which also was a prominent theme for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. “I Will Always Love You,” Houston’s iconic ballad, was famously written by Dolly Parton, who is part of the tune’s legacy and surely is the centerpiece of the show.

A parting thought: “Bodyguard” premiered in the West End in 2012 and has toured many cities in Europe and Asia, and even has bookings through the end of this year, mostly on foreign turf. But it never, ever played Broadway — the heartbeat of theater – so can it legitimately still be dubbed a Broadway musical? I think not.

And that’s Show Biz. …


‘The Bodyguard’

A musical based on a 1999 film of the same name; book by Alexander Dinelaris, screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan.

Where: Diamond Head Theatre

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays, through June 11; extended at 3 and 7:30 p.m. June 17 and 4 p.m. June 18.

Tickets:  $27 to $52, at, (808) 733-0274

Running time: 2:30, including intermission


Everything wrong is right on target in the comedic farce known as “The Play That Goes Wrong,” now in its Hawaii premiere engagement at the Manoa Valley Theatre.

It’s a maniacal, madcap mélange – a play-within-a-play, to add to the mirth – that can be sometimes confusing, chaotic, and contagious, so let’s just say this controlled silliness is quite seductive, and sensational … so much so that the show’s been extended through June 4 at MVT.

Be advised: There are two playbills, one fictional and one actual, to sort out the obvious from the frivolous. The premise is this: The mythical Cornley University Drama Society, is staging “The Murder at Haversham Manor, but lacks proper rehearsals, so some dialogue is screwed up and parts of the set fall.

In other words, the play is already happening and you don’t know it. That’s part of the m.o., so if something’s amiss, it could be real, or planned.

This is the gallery of actors, featured in “The Play That Goes Wrong.”

It’s part Sherlock Holmes, part Agatha Christie, part Saturday Night Live, with lots of setups and you won’t know it till you get it. And if you’re familiar with “Noises Off,” expect similar raucous, rabid behavior and action.

The work, by Henry Lewis, Henry Shields and Jonathan Sayer, is directed by Rob Duval, who demands and gets comic control from his versatile cast. Michelle Bisbee’s inspired set is rich in precision and potency, since much of it comes apart at the precise moment, requiring impeccable timing to avoid injury, and the production is lit with superb timing by Janine Myers.

With so much live action all over the stage, it’s important to hear all the chatter and buzz, so thanks to Lock Lynch’s sound design.

What matters, and clearly is the motif of “Wrong,” is the fact that this is absurdity beyond a basic comedy, and the ensemble of actors and pretenders require to retain indefatigable timing, which enables the actors to shine, at different times for different reasons.

Even the furniture gets laughs; ditto, a mantel that keeps falling; and the photo of a dog on the wall has its giddy  moment, too.

I chortled and chuckled so often, I can truthfully say that I can’t recall which actor did what, but can offer generous praise and applause for Shannon Winpenny, Alan Shelphard, Jeff Andrews, John D’Aversa, Andrew Baker, Matthew Miller, Brett Williams, Tiger Tam, Theo and Al Reyes. Take a bow, gang.

 “The Play That Goes Wrong” premiered in London in 2012, and earned an Olivier for Best New Comedy. Its Broadway debut was in 2017 and the production transferred to the off-Broadway New World Stages on W. 50th St. in New York, where it still is playing. And a local note – one of the New York producers staging this one is Kevin McCollum, the Tony-winning producer of such shows as “Rent,” “Avenue Q,” “In the Heights” and “Something Rotten.” Surely, he’d be proud to learn that MVT is staging the show, too. …


 ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’

A musical by by Henry Lewis, Henry Shields and Jonathan Sayer

Where: Manoa Valley Theatre

When: Extended through June 4, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday  and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Tickets:  $24 to $45 at or (808) 988-6131

Broadway grosses, for week ending May 28

With the 2023 Tony Awards coming up June 11 in New York City,

last week was the finale for the active Broadway community.

And “The Lion King” still rules in the weekly gross list:

Here are the Top 7 by grosses, for the week ending May 28:

1 – “The Lion King,” $2.245 million.

2 – “Hamilton,”  $1.894 million.

3 – “Sweeney Todd,” $1.882 million.

4 – “Wicked,” $1.825 million.

5—“MJ,” $1.682 million.

6 – “Funny Girl,” $1.583 million.

7 – “Aladdin,” with $1.453 million.

Here’s the official compilation, courtesy The Broadway League:

& JULIETSTEPHEN SONDHEIM THEATRE$1,123,714.60-$61,919.30$142.44$323.007,8891,0268096.11%-1.79%
ALADDINNEW AMSTERDAM THEATRE$1,453,453.50$69,692.00$111.76$227.5013,0051,7278094.13%-1.38%
BAD CINDERELLAIMPERIAL THEATRE$351,163.48-$33,364.22$45.27$297.007,7571,3988069.36%0.99%
A BEAUTIFUL NOISE, THE NEIL DIAMOND MUSICALBROADHURST THEATRE$876,940.22-$212,898.02$125.24$347.507,0021,1528075.98%-6.91%
THE BOOK OF MORMONEUGENE O’NEILL THEATRE$1,040,043.30$4,575.20$126.68$0.008,2101,0668096.27%-1.76%
CAMELOTVIVIAN BEAUMONT THEATER$811,603.50-$39,798.50$112.50$249.007,2141,0478086.13%-4.40%
CHICAGOAMBASSADOR THEATRE$701,359.08-$17,023.68$96.20$237.007,2911,0808084.39%-2.22%
A DOLL’S HOUSEHUDSON THEATRE$847,080.00-$56,236.00$119.02$299.007,1179468094.04%-2.55%
FAT HAMAMERICAN AIRLINES THEATRE$391,432.60-$1,603.20$74.08$247.005,2847048093.82%1.05%
FUNNY GIRLAUGUST WILSON THEATRE$1,583,257.00$434,871.50$181.75$0.008,7111,2198089.33%21.66%
GOOD NIGHT, OSCARBELASCO THEATRE$550,970.34-$171,170.76$130.25$297.004,2301,0227059.13%-12.83%
GREY HOUSELYCEUM THEATRE$413,864.50$61,915.80$76.87$237.005,3848960875.11%-10.48%
HADESTOWNWALTER KERR THEATRE$771,642.10$359.85$106.30$0.007,2599188098.84%-0.25%
HAMILTONRICHARD RODGERS THEATRE$1,894,229.00-$12,375.00$177.55$449.0010,6691,32480100.73%-0.09%
HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILDLYRIC THEATRE$1,371,744.40$179,787.30$129.25$349.0010,6131,6228081.79%-3.04%
KIMBERLY AKIMBOBOOTH THEATRE$542,078.92$1,226.57$90.72$277.005,9757738096.62%0.36%
LEOPOLDSTADTLONGACRE THEATRE$555,823.65-$42,777.25$108.92$347.005,1031,0758059.34%-6.95%
LIFE OF PIGERALD SCHOENFELD THEATRE$501,232.55-$29,253.35$77.64$277.006,4569788082.52%-2.79%
THE LION KINGMINSKOFF THEATRE$2,245,982.00$101,265.00$177.18$199.0012,6761,6968093.43%0.23%
MJ THE MUSICALNEIL SIMON THEATRE$1,682,452.00-$490.00$153.70$250.0010,9461,3878098.65%-0.58%
MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICALAL HIRSCHFELD THEATRE$1,355,398.30-$49,820.45$134.08$0.0010,1091,3008097.20%-1.73%
NEW YORK, NEW YORKST. JAMES THEATRE$939,859.25-$213,265.25$85.89$0.0010,9431,6598082.45%-7.14%
ONCE UPON A ONE MORE TIMEMARQUIS THEATRE$606,278.50$24,621.00$62.57$297.009,6901,6040786.30%12.81%
PARADEBERNARD B. JACOBS THEATRE$1,108,120.05$95,670.10$140.96$327.007,8611,0208096.34%-1.49%
PETER PAN GOES WRONGETHEL BARRYMORE THEATRE$538,877.00$56,129.26$89.23$197.006,0391,0478072.10%4.81%
PRIMA FACIEJOHN GOLDEN THEATRE$949,793.76-$23,031.98$134.78$294.007,0478029097.63%-1.22%
SHUCKEDNEDERLANDER THEATRE$809,278.30$29,292.20$88.75$179.009,1191,1718097.34%-1.17%
THE SIGN IN SIDNEY BRUSTEIN’S WINDOWJAMES EARL JONES THEATRE$532,853.00$11,033.48$87.71$337.006,0751,0698071.04%-2.65%
SIX: THE MUSICALLENA HORNE THEATRE$1,044,247.00$15,227.00$137.17$249.007,6131,0318092.30%1.09%
SOME LIKE IT HOTSAM S. SHUBERT THEATRE$1,006,252.88-$150,120.77$104.51$257.009,6281,4488083.11%-8.40%
SUMMER, 1976SAMUEL J. FRIEDMAN THEATRE$511,945.00$12,556.00$111.10$319.004,6086378090.42%-1.55%
SWEENEY TODDLUNT-FONTANNE THEATRE$1,882,084.00$14,716.00$178.08$399.0010,5691,49870100.79%1.09%
THE THANKSGIVING PLAYHELEN HAYES THEATER$267,587.50$24,553.00$80.67$223.003,3175818071.36%3.35%
WICKEDGERSHWIN THEATRE$1,825,756.00$146,812.00$123.79$275.0014,7491,8678098.77%2.72%

And that’s Show. Biz. …


Trevor Tamashiro has been named executive director at Diamond Head Theatre, succeeding Deena Dray, who retired.

Tamashiro, pictured below,   joined the staff of Hawaii’s largest and oldest community theater, and he previously performed at DHT in his younger days. Locally born and raised, he studied on the mainland and surely will bring fresh ideas and steer DHT to new heights.

He introduced himself to me last Saturday night, prior to the theater’s latest production, “The Bodyguard.” It was a sweet surprise to meet him.

He has nearly 20 years of experience and leadership in non-profits and has been working in New York prior to joining DHT in May. While he has a degree in theater arts from the University of Miami and master of science degree in non-profit management from Columbia University, he also takes pride in being a certified fund-raising exec and was the chief advancement officer of the Diller-Quaile School of Music, deputy director of Saratoga International Theatre Institute, and program director for the Drama league of New York.

So, we welcome him home and wish him the best; it’s always a charm when someone with a keen interest in theater returns to serve the community where he grew up. You don’t always have this kind of script. …

Put ‘Longs’ on your list, pronto

Kumu Kahua Theatre, the precious little downtown theater, has breaking news.

More tickets, more performances have been added to the run of Lee Cataluna’s hit comedy, “Folks You Meet at Longs,” because of popular demand. The show opened May 25 and box office was overwhelmed with demand for tickets, which sold out quickly like toilet paper during a strike.

The add-on playdates are at 7:30 p.m. June 29 and 30 and 7 p.m. July 1, plus 2 p.m. July 2.

You know the tickets will vanish swiftly, so order now, move fast, because these shows will sell out fast like TP at Longs.

Tickets: $5 to $25, at or  (808) 536-4441. ..

New Bruno Mars CD this year?

Bruno Mars, pictured below Hawaii’s prevailing superstar, evidently is putting final touches on a new album that’s likely set for release later this year.  Would surely make a great Christmas stocking gift.

According to The Sun, Mars is nearing completion of the new CD and is in talks with Live Nation to work out a plan to do yet another mammoth concert tour, to support and fuel the unnamed album.

He has yet to disappoint, with his previous solo albums and his partnership with Anderson .Paak  as the Silk Sonic duo, a secondary project that’s been a viable extension of his craft.  It’s been seven years since Mars’ “24K Magic” was issued.

“Bruno wants it to include the biggest concerts he has ever done and is keen to mount a large-scale multi-dimensional live show,” the insider said.

He still has a series of Dolby Live concerts through June at Park MGM, where he continues to wow ‘em. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Just asking…

Have you had to deal with a credit card that has been compromised?

To restate: has someone hacked your account and logged expenses that weren’t yours?

I’ve had a succession of these irritable moments, when I received a text message and a phone call that a rat was apparently at work.

My Hawaiian Airlines Master Card, I was told, likely was compromised. Bless the watcher/whistleblower, who flagged one charge and was right.  A sum – not mine – was logged  from Florida and thank Lord someone sniffed this foul play.

But three times, over two years? Humbug, yeah?

This incident required the termination of the victimized card and  a new replacement card; the result is that sites where I have automatic charges had to be informed and this card was immediately halted.

A replacement with a new number arrived via express mail, so now it’s business as usual.

But applause, to the scrutinizers, for sniffing out a crook. They are unsung heroes.