If you think only Honolulu theater groups have it bad, what with the uncertainty of COVID-19 and Omicron variant, consider the devastating Broadway situation.
At least seven of nearly 30 shows have had to shut down because of the virus; that includes “Music Man,” whose leading man Hugh Jackman, is recovering from COVID. He’s set to return to the limelight Jan. 6.
But former Honolulan Kevin McCollum, who has been a successful and prolific Tony Award-winning producer (“Rent,” “Avenue Q,” “In the Heights,” “Something Rotten”), has been experiencing a rough season this year because of the surge in pandemic cases.
He is the lead producer of “Mrs. Doubtfire,” a new title based on the Robin Williams comedy film which went dark because of the virus, and the tepid reviews haven’t helped. The show lost an estimated $1.5 million during its closure, according to McCollum, and no one knows how long it can remain in business.
McCollum also is a producer of the acclaimed London import,“Six” which is trying to stay alive, too. “We are resilient,” McCollum told ABC. “We are New York and we have our stories to tell as long as everyone is healthy to tell them.”
We earlier mentioned that McCollum also is a producer of Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” film musical, which has opened to mixed reviews and unexpectedly sparse audiences considering its $100 million budget, so yes, it’s not been a merry season at all. If you stay long enough for the end credits of the film, you’ll see McCollum’s name.
Meanwhile, “Ain’t Too Proud,” the revival of the hit musical on the life and times of The Temptations, has just returned to the active list, after an earlier shutdown. It’s been a popular vehicle with oodles of hit songs and great choreography, but the odds of drawing audiences in challenging times has forced this show to shut down for good in January, following similar closures of the revived “Waitress” and “Jagged Little Pill” recently.
And yes, the season’s traditional Rockettes show at Radio City Music Hall, is history amid the COVID crisis, normally a highly popular attraction on the Great White Way.
Broadway may be back, but clearly, it’s a problematic time to visit. The weather outside might be frightening, but the climate inside some theaters might be fearsome, too, since the virus still is a relevant issue not under control …
A song for New Year
Kathleen Stuart, a former Kaneohe resident and a proud Ron Bright student, has recorded a video performance of “Next Year’s New Year’s Eve,” a suitable tune for this time of the year.
Now a New York resident and performer, she enlisted local artists to do a video of the tune, composed by Patrick Dwyer in 2013 and featured in a 2017 musical revue, “ThirtyWhatever,” in which Stuart performed.
You’ve seen the actress over the decades, in Castle High School performances directed by Bright, and more recently in I’m a Bright Kid Foundation’s production of “The King and I,” and in Manoa Valley Theatre’s Hawaii premiere of “Allegiance.”
You can view the video at https://youtu.be/H38HvLWJIX0 …
And that’s Show Biz. …
Befuddled by the ongoing COVID-19 and Omicron variant, Hawaii’s two largest theater groups are grappling with how best to move on while being cognizant of the surge in cases and the state’s unchanged protocols.
An if/when attitude seems to prevail at both Diamond Head Theatre, Honolulu’s largest producer of shows and often dubbed the Broadway of the Pacific, and Manoa Valley Theatre, considered as Hawaii’s off-Broadway playhouse. They are hoping for the best but bracing for the worst.
Diamond Head Theatre has cast its “Steel Magnolias” production, set for a run from Feb. 4 to 20. But it hasn’t begun rehearsals because of the pandemic cloud.
Manoa Valley Theatre, also hoping to launch its much-delayed “Desperate Measures” for a run Jan. 13 to 30, has less prep time to kick off this one, but at least has one positive: there will be a playbill once the show opens.
Both groups had abandoned the customary playbill, handed out to patrons, that lists cast, tech crew, and other creators of their shows. Aside from cost factors, the iffiness of the most recent shows at both camps placed the playbill low in the priority list, though online versions were available but not easy to find or download.
“”We are moving forward, in so far as seats are on sale on the website, but not publicizing it,” said Deena Dray, DHT executive director. “Rehearsals not yet started, due to Christmas. Very much still huddling here.”
MVT publicist Kristin Jackson, speaking for Kip Wilborn, MVT executive director, said MVT “will be following the guidance of the Office of the Governor and the Mayor’s office, in terms of capacity and social distancing protocols. Our plan is to move forward as though additional regulations are not imminent but will certainly address them if/when they happen.”
Tickets are available for purchase online, but social distancing – which plagued both companies, affecting revenues with half-house attendance — so if “normal” sell-to-fill policies remain, there’s a possibility that seating complexities would be a headache if health protocols are tightened. Face masks will be required, along with proof of vaccinations, along with a photo ID.
So: it looks like the situation remains fluid and could either be a boon, if “normal” seating resumes, or a bust, if the surge of the pandemic continues, necessitating a Plan B. …
Meanwhile, COVID continues
Roslyn Catracchia, the musician-composer, posted online that she “got COVID for Christmas.” Not a serious case, apparently, and she’s on the mend. The c-bug “made me smile these past nine days …but this got me laughing out loud today.” Sounds like she’ll conquor the pandemic and be at her usual jovial best before New Year’s. …
The Green has had to cancel its New Year’s Eve festivities at Blue Note Hawaii this weekend, because members were tested positive for COVID. Details are not known, but the group’s Dec. 29 through Jan. 2 gig has been postponed till March 3 to 7, with original ticket purchases being honored for the rescheduled dates. …
A tutu take on Christmas rhyme
We’ve got to share this delighful spin-off of “The Night Before Christmas,” delivered in costume with perfect local-lingo cadence, by Sheila Black, a resident at Arcadia. As a Christmas gift to her fellow Arcadians, Sheila – in the guise of Tutu Eleele – shares the oft-parodied night-before rhyme with impeccable charm.
If you’ve attended one of those “Follies” productions during the decade-plus run at the retirement residence, you’ll remember Black as the diminutive one with great comedic timing and dancing skills. In these shows, the lyrics were lip-synched; in her Christmas pose, it’s her voice, her live delivery, her charm.
And that’s Show Biz. …
Mine, too –but wouldn’t work for the pandemic: no mouth covering.