Update: sad to report that beloved Fran Kirk died earlier today (Nov. 29). Prayers and thoughts to the Kirk ohana. Stay tuned for details.

Fran Kirk, the veteran entrepreneur who brought the Society of Seven to Hawaii as the group’s manager and mentor, is under hospice care in an Arizona facility.

Kirk, who also served as entertainment director of the Main Showroom of the Outrigger Waikiki  where the SOS group was  anchored for decades before it became Blue Note Hawaii, has been coping with Alzheimer’s and other health issues, according to her son, Mike Kirk, a resident of Chandler, AZ.

Frannie, he said, is at a care facility and is in a peaceful sleep. However, the doctors say she may not linger for more than two days.

“I know she can hear me and her body language changes when I give her a kiss,” said Mike.

Frannie had been residing in Las Vegas for several years. An avid golfer, her Hawaii friends would periodically visit and they’d golf together.

She also visited Honolulu somewhat regularly, for doctor visits and personal business, but she hasn’t been the Frannie we all know.

“I moved to Las Vegas to be with and caregive her,” said Mike. “But I moved her to Phoenix July 25, but my home was two stories and we needed a single-floor place.”

Frannie Kirk

In recent days and weeks, Frannie devised a strategy to conceal her loss of memory. “She would tell callers that she had something to tend to, to call back,” a means to cut short her conversations to hide her search for a word or respond to questions.

She eventually was placed in a facility that has been providing valuable and personal care.

Earlier, she suffered a fall and broke her femur and complicated her well-being, but received good care at the hospital. But  X-rays showed she had spots on her kidney, an indication of cancer, and Mike said when she was still able to speak, she had complained of pain in the vicinity of her kidney.

“She did not like the rehab that followed,” he said.

And that began her decline in health and awareness.

On her Facebook page, Mike posted this:

“She is not doing well and she may not see Christmas. We did celebrate her 84th Bday and she enjoyed Roast Duck, Char Siu Chow Fun and Baby Bok Choi. She is comfortable and the Doc believes she is at peace.”

Friends can post a message on Facebook or dial her cellphone at (808) 271-3330 and “and I will read them to her daily,” said Mike. “I believe she can still hear, so. friends may call her.”

“The doctors think she will not last two more days; she is not eating and is not on IV.

He remembered a pivotal incident recently:

“There was one moment, when she looked up in air like she was speaking to someone,” said Mike.

“She then said, ‘Is it time?’”

And she hasn’t spoken since…

And that’s Show Biz. …


“The Joy Luck Club,” now playing at Manoa Valley Theatre, resonates with island audiences because it deals with relatable cultural issues. If you’re Asian, you know the power of familial values and traditions, explored in this play.

Based on the novel by Amy Tan, and scripted by Susan Kim for the stage,  the dramady involes four Chinese women who migrate to the U.S. and their four American-born daughters.

It was adapted in 1993 for a movie that featured a widely Asian American cast, a rarity of that period, and that casting concept makes the MVT effort one with a mostly Asian American cast, too.

Set in San Francisco’s fabled Chinatown, the thrust of the play involves memories and reflections of the four-family ensembles. There’s a number of adoring laughs but core is the bond of the traditions not to be forgotten in a family.

Like mahjong tiles that click and clack, there’s a lot of chatter and patter and a yin and yang volley of dichotomous benchmarks : mothers and daughters, sadness and gladness, achievements and disappointments, praise and criticism, doubt and confidence and secrets and confessions flow like hot tea.

For director Reiko Ho, the challenge is to pace the shifting tides of highs and lows, and she utilizes the cramped and smallish MVT staging on multi-platforms and stairways to good advantage, again with dichotomous exits and entrances, from MVT’s doorways on the left and  right.

The cast of Manoa Valley Theatre’s “The Joy Luck Club.”

For the spectator, the lack of a printed playbill provides some frustration in identifying characters and actors. You could download a 38-page online version, if you can find it (I believe you need to purchase tickets to get access, or you’ll be unable to peek at the contents). But at a performance, an usher may ask if you want to download the QR code onto your cellphone. But try to access that during the show? No can do; you’re supposed to put your phone on airline mode. Further, the light from your phone will be a major disruption, since all devices must be turned off — house rules. To peruse, you have to wait till intermission, or simply review it at home later. But I digress. I firmly believe, with normalcy returning, theaters should commit to provide a playbill, not just for spectators, but as a measure of gratitude and respect to the cast and crew, a validation of the entire team effort.

The narrator Jing-Mei Woo (Jennifer Stierli) assembles with her three aunties — who were mahjong players with her late mother Suyuan Woo (Rebekah Fu) – for a reunion. The pack includes a mixture of personalities: Lindo Jong (Kat Nakano), An-Mei Hsu (Denise-Aiko Chinen), and Ying-Ying St. Clair (Lisa Ann Katagiri Bright).

The other daughters are Rose Hsu Jordan (Alana Eagle), Waverly Jong (Lacey Chu) and Lena St. Clair (Miki Yamamoto).

What a chop suey lot, these women. American-born daughters, of course, dodge off the conflicts with their native Chinese moms, who can’t understand why they don’t conform to the standards of the older generation. So there are generational friction and wounds.

 The men are afterthoughts, with little to do. Canning Woo (Dann Seki) is the patriarch who has a few good lines, and Tin Jong (Devin Nekoba) might best remembered for his feigned but credible hunched trots across the stage .

The production runs Thursdays through Sundays, through Dec. 12. Visit


If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again…

Never say never…

Quitters never win…

These are the take-away messages of “Tick, Tick … Boom!,”  which marks Lin-Manuel Miranda’s debut as a film director, paying a stunning  homage to the late Jonathan Larson.

The biopic currently is streaming on Netflix.

This is a rare, rousing and resourceful adaptation of an autobiographical musical by Larson that no one ever saw, because the composer just couldn’t find a producer to buy into it. It is highly targeted to the Broadway community, with a number of familiar names and some vague faces that appear in cameos that provide somewhat of a sideshow – a guessing game to name all the Broadway elites that appear in brief sightings.

“Superbia” was Larson’s unknown quest to make the big time in the Broadway of the 1990s, and clearly, he gave his heart and soul into the project, notably struggling to complete a key tune in what he hoped would be the selling point of his show.

The film also is a revelation of how difficult it is to make art; an anguished  Larson feels like a failure because he’s pushing 30 and he can’t reel in the greenlight for someone to produce his work. He muses that Stephen Sondheim, an iconic composer, had his first show produced at age 27. Hence, his clock is tick-ticking away.

Andrew Garfield plays the anguished Jonathon Larson in “Tick, Tick…Boom!”

But like the highwire act in a circus, who falls but eventually redeems himself by hitting the tightwires again, Larson eventually accepted his first failure by making a second impression, creating the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning “Rent,” a hit among the Bohemian crowd of the era. But reality provided added drama in the Larson legacy:  he died on the eve of the premiere of the show, and never was able to enjoy his eventual success and the impact “Rent” made in the annals of Broadway history.

Garfield, a star of film and stage, projects the empathy and embodies the energy of a conflicted Larson and gets into the skin of the composer, providing a powerful voice and a convincing presence on the keyboards. He had never sung publicly till he took on this film. It’s a performance worthy of Oscar consideration.

Alexandra Shipp plays Larson’s girlfriend Susan and becomes part of the tension in a problematic relationship. Other key secondary  characters are Vanessa Hudgens as singer Karessa Johnson workshopping the show and Robin de Jesus as Michael, Larson’s best friend and ex-actor roommate.

With Miranda at the helm, the cast is peopled with high-caliber actors. The man behind two huge Tony-winning Broadway hits, the earlier “In the Heights” and “Hamilton,”  is unashamed to appear in cameos himself in his own films, so it’s no surprise that he has a brief scene — ditto, his real-life father, Luis Miranda Jr.– here.

But look for a galaxy of Broadway greats:

Judith Light portrays Larson’s agent, whose advice is to write about what you know.

Bradley Whitford is Sondheim, looking convincingly like the real deal. While Sondheim does not actually appear in the film himself, it’s his real voice in the scene where Larson listens to the message that his show is a no-go but provides the challenging advice of encouragement to move on and keep working on his craft.

Joel Grey is best known for his Oscar-winning role as the emcee in the film version of the musical, “Cabaret.”

Phylicia Rashad is a Tony winner for “A Raisin in the Sun” but best known for playing Clair Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.”

 — Brian Stokes Mitchell is a Tony winner for “Kiss Me Kate” and other musicals like “Ragtime.”

Andre-DeShields earned a Tony as Hermes in “Hadestown.”

— A cluster of Miranda’s colleagues from “Hamilton,” including Phillipa Soo, who originated the role of Eliza; Renee Elise Goldsberry, who won a Tony for her Angelica role; and Christopher Jackson, who played George Washington in “Hamilton,” and now co-stars in the TV drama, “Bull.”

Bebe Neuwirth is a Tony winner for “Chicago” and “Sweet Charity,” also is remembered for TV’s “Cheers” and for playing Morticia Addams” in Broadway’s “The Addams Family.”

Chita Rivera is a 10-time Tony nominee and three-time Tony winner, known for her portrayal of Anita in “West Side Story” and Velma in “Chicago.”

Bernadette Peters, who originated roles in Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park With George” and “Into the Woods,” is a prolific actress in such hits as “Follies,” “Gypsy,” “A Little Night Music,” “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Hello, Dolly!”

Beth Malone is a Tony nominee for “Fun Home.”

— A trio of original cast members from “Rent,” including Adam Pascal (Roger), Daphne Rubin-Vegas (Mimi) and Wilson Jermaine Heredia (Angel) are recognizable.

Stephen Schwartz is the prolific composer and lyricist of a string of Broadway hits, including “Wicked,” “Pippin” and “Godspell.”

“Sunday,” the pivotal tune inspired by the Sondheim hit “Sunday in the Park With George,” is one of the key scenes in the film, set in the Moondance Diner enabling most of the aforementioned Broadway luminaries to assemble and reflect in Steven Levenson’s script to party hearty as Larson’s clock is ticking.

Actual footage of Larson performing at the keyboards during the end credits validates the concept and scope of his art-making magnified throughout the film in Garfield’s performance.


Every year around this time, before Thanksgiving and Christmas, I don my crafter’s hat with joyous energy to begin the sometimes arduous but certainly satisfying task of creating a whole bunch of Christmas lapel pins and table decorations to share the joy of the yuletide.

Christmas pins reflect the spirit of the yuletide; some folks wear ’em on face masks.

Yes, Virginia, there is a tradition worth continuing. I get to play Santa.

This practice began decades ago when I was newspapering and column-writing and hopping from one show to another, at a time when Waikiki was jumping. These pandemic days, there are only a few venues with music and fewer special Christmas concerts. Sorta means there is a skosh more time to do holiday crafts.

And what’s Christmas if you can’t share and share the goodwill and merriment of the yuletide?

Enter, the pins.

They are rather silly trinkets that most women adore receiving; in recent years, folks have begun to wear their pins not on lapels or blouses/shirts but on their face marks. Not the same thing, but somewhat akin to placing sticker on your car’s bumper. The pins express a message of sorts.

The past two Christmases, my pins with Santa designs, had St. Nick donning face masks. For 2021, I decided to minimize the masked Santa, with intentions and hopes for a holiday where no one needs to don a mask.

That is not yet his his year. So a few masked Santas have been produced.

Making pins – unrelated to my “other” hobby of creating assorted notecards, largely with island motifs – require purchasing “ingredients,” so to speak. This includes images and stickers with holiday themes, including snowmen, reindeer, elves, penguins and yes, mini Christmas trees.

I have beaucoup storage bins containing these collectibles, along with cords, ribbons, glittery trims ranging from stick-on tapes to sequined patches.  Lauhala swaths enable me to create a few island-feeling trees that project a Hawaii flavor; with greenery and red holly berries, it says “Kalikimaka.”

Table decorations feature a multitude of themes: trees, snowmen, gingerbread houses.

Miniature gingerbread figures — men and women — add more variety to the plate. Often, a gingerbread house sticker or charm adds a whisper of nostalgia. And plastic figures of Santa and snowmen, with installed batteries, enable the figure to glow with a simple switch.

Imagination is the key element in putting these pieces together.

Crafters know the value of a glue gun and glue sticks, to create the right look with the right fixings. And yes, there are glue burns along the way. Pin backs glued  on the back of the decoration can result in glue gun burns, too.

Because everything is hand-made, no two pins are alike except in spirit. Might add a teen Santa’s cap to one gingerbread boy and a mini red bead on a gingerbread girl. Adding a little different something gives each pin different personalities.

And then comes another tier of completing the journey. Buying boxes of assorted sizes to pack and ready the items for the post office. These postal workers are especially busy this time of year, so I appreciate the valuable service they provide. Even if postal rates continue rise.

I deliver some of these creations to my doctors and dentist, to say mahalo for their service. Ditto, the postal souls who weigh and process the postage.And my longtime bankers.

You can’t begin to explain how these silly “gifts” mean to the everyday work horses. The value is practically none, but you see the joy in the sparkle of the eyes and the wide and gleaming smiles. I recall distributing a few pins last fall, and another during Easter, when I underwent same-day surgery at Queen’s. The appreciation was unforgettable; I mean, how often do you receive a sweet note from a few someones who helped in the wellness of your body?

There’s a measure of regret, too; I’m sorry I can’t create more inventory to offer to more folks. A few strangers want to purchase, but I normally don’t sell, since my stock quickly disappears. I donated a few pins and a few notecards to the Saturday (Nov. 20) craft fair at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, and the items were sold by a volunteer group. That’s the lone “fair” exposure for me this year.t

I’m in the midst of packing and preparing scores of pins and decorations to share with my ohana and colleagues, past and present. It feels ‘swonderful to have creative what looks mighty festive, when multiples are assembled.

By the time the last stems of fake holly and other trinkets and the last glitter dust and errant beads are vacuumed off the carpet of my livingroom work space, it will be December.

Then the routine begins again, with a focus on a different holiday. Like, Valentine’s in February. …


Let the season begin…

OK, it’s not yet Thanksgiving, but Santa’s workshop has been working overtime the past few weeks.

Translation: I’ve created more than 400 Christmas pins and perhaps 150 table decorations and have begun distribution to family and friends, via mail and personal delivery.

Here are samples of the pins … and a portion of the decorations.

A sampling of this year’s Christmas pins.
Here are some of the completed decorations,