“Desperate Measures,” which is running at Manoa Valley Theatre through Feb. 6, is a delightful pleasure and a theatrical treasure, with Shakespearean origins but updated and set in an 1800s Wild West saloon loaded with likable critters.

This one had been on the MVT shelf for more than two years; it was scheduled to run in 2019 but was pushed back because of the pandemic crisis, and also scooted off the 2020-21 season, too. Considering the fact that this was dubbed a “problematic” play by The Bard himself back in the day, when “the play’s the thing” was the quote of the era, one wonders, was it jinxed?

In 2022, the playout’s the thing. The show’s Hawaii premiere ultimately is a jolly jewel.

A modest musical by David Friedman and Peter Kellogg, it is mounted with sprightly direction and choreography by Miles Phillips. He has corralled a lively, lovely and luminous cast, clearly enjoying the see-sawing pendulum of silliness and sentiment involving a handsome Johnny Blood (Drew Niles, conniving and raucous but contagiously delightful), jailed for allegedly killing Big Swede, which he insists was self-defense, but could be hanged for the crime. The local sheriff Martin Green (Garrett Taketa, exuding sympathetic logic) tries to help Blood’s  nun of a sister, Sister Mary Jo, aka Susanna (Christine Kluvo, possessing a sweet voice and an honest demeanor), who’s trying to overturn the hanging by requesting leniency from the Germanic Governor von Richterhenkenpflichtgetruber (enacted by an effectively sleazy Garrett Hols).

Of course, there are complications galore.

A saloon fave, Bella Rose (Alexandria Zinov, a charmer in looks, sexiness, and shenanigans), is talked into becoming a stand-in for Mary Jo to have sex with the Gov, to use that as a wedge for undoing Johnny Blood’s hanging. The victim was her boyfriend.

The cast of “Desperate Measures,” a musical on the shelf for more than two years.

While the Gov tries to woo Mary Jo, she becomes smitten — Lord willing — with the Sheriff. Meanwhile, Johnny Blood also has the hots for Bella and she’s open to a new beau.

There are expected gags, with chastity and fidelity as core issues; the real Mary Jo and the faux one have dance moments and also engage in a mirror routine, wearing identical wedding white dress wear, and borrowing the Marx Brothers’ classic mirror gimmick from the classic “Duck Soup” film, enacting reflective movements to foil the Gov. It’s a bit crude, but an effective gag.

When the German-accented Gov utters he wants to “Make Arizona Great Again,” there’s a ring of current familiarity and wonderment of slogan ownership.

Andrew Doan’s single saloon set, with a bar and walkway to a second level of brothels, creates the right atmosphere for the period piece; the four-piece house band, led by Jenny Shiroma, is stationed just inside the theater’s entrance/exit. A simple desk is the Gov’s office on the opposite side, with window panes alternating projection views of the outdoors or a church’s stain glass. A movable jail cell – where the imprisoned Johnny Blood spends most of his time with a drunken priest — is wheeled in when needed.

Jennifer Hart’s and Kimmerie Jones’ costumes, notably the frou-frou of the saloon dames, reflect an element of the Wild West, and Lisa Ponce de Leon’s hair and makeup define the era. Lighting by Jonah Bobilin and sound design by Lock Lynch brighten and enhance the visual and audible experience.

Some of the dialogue is delivered in couplets, but understandable to modern audiences unlike Shakespearean times; there’s a cadre of plot-moving tunes in the score by Kellogg and Friedman, but nothing hummable on the way home..

The show earned  the Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Musical and for Outstanding Lyrics, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical, and Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Musical.  These accolades are warranted, by any measure. If you’re searching for a funfest, you’ll embrace “Desperate Measures.”

And that’s Show Biz. …


Manoa Valley Theatre just launched a 2022 “Music & Comedy Series” with a comedy show on Jan. 26.

It’s sort of a “dark night” project, with most shows programmed during
off nights when MVT season productions are dark, but a few are scheduled on weekends.

The remaining slate:

Ron Artis II
  • Feb. 14 and 15 – Ron Artis II.
  • Feb. 25 and 26 – Black Voices Matter, featuring Brandon Leake.
  • March 28 and 29 – Amy Hanaiali‘i.
  • April 16 and 17 – Shari Lynn and Kip Wilborn.
  • June 25 – Rolando Sanchez.

Showtimes will be at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. if second shows are slated, with normal seating unless pandemic protocols change. Facemasks and proof of vaccinations will be required.

For information/ticketing, visit www.manoavalleytheatre.com or call (808) 988-6131…

Welcoming the tiger

The Hawaiii Theatre will stage a free lunar year program to welcome the Year of the Tiger,

at 6 p.m. Tuesday (Feb, 1).

The Phoenix Dance Chamber will provide the cultural music, followed by a screening of “Picture Bride.”

For information, visit www.hawaiitheatre.com or call (808) 528-0506.

Adam Sandler

‘Murder,’ continued

Adam Sandler has been filming “Murder Mystery 2” in January, a comedy destined for Netflix. Not sure when the filming winds up.

The 2019 original was a hit with streamers but a miss with critics.

No matter, “MM” was a top title for viewers, so a sequel was a no-brainer.

Kyle Newacheck is directing James Vanderbilt’s script, with headliner Sandler joined by Jennifer Aniston and Luke Evans.

The plot involves a married couple invited to a billionaire’s party aboard a yacht in Europe and they become immersed in a murder investigation. …

Obama watch

Former president Barack Obama and wife Michelle have lingered in Hawaii this month.

Michelle Obama

Michelle marked her 58th birthday (Jan. 17) but how she celebrated has not been mentioned.

No. 44, not surprisingly, has been hitting the golf greens, spotted by some residents, but iPhone videos were not allowed to capture his swings. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Henry Kapono is revisiting his popular Artist 2 Artist Concert Series, in which the prolific singer-guitarist-composer partners with fellow island talent sharing patter and music at Blue Note Hawaii, the venue at the Outrigger Waikiki resort.

The 2022 series – fifth in the ongoing bookings – is themed the “Hawaiian Legends Edition,” and will be held as follows:

  • March 15 – Kapono with  Keola Beamer and his wife Moanalani.
  • March 31 – Kapono with Jerry Santos.
  • April 28 – Kapono with the Makaha Sons.
  • May 26 – Kapono with Ledward Kaapana.

Showtime for all concerts will be at 6:30 p.m., with doors opening at 5 p.m., with dinner and beverage service available.

Beamer is the composer of “Honolulu City Lights,” his signature tune, and other classic island hits; Moanalani Beamer is hula stylist wife. He also is a respected ki ho’alu (slack key guitar) pioneer. Earlier, he was part of the brother act, Keola and Kapono Beamer.

Santos formerly was featured with Olomana, the duo that is best known for “E Ku’u Home O Kahaluu.” Mixing traditional Hawaiian with contemporary elements, Santos is a prolific artist still performing in selected venues. He is a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient from the Hawai`i Academy of Recording Arts, and has been inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame.

The Makaha Sons is led by surviving member Jerome Koko; his late brother John Koko and the late Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole were former colleagues, along with Louis “Moon” Kauakahi, who exited the group. The Sons continue to be a versatile, harmonic act that also has been a Lifetime Achievement winner and inductee in the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame.

Kaapana is a legendary slack key guitartist formerly with Hui Ohana and Ikona; his trademark baritone tones are matched by his extraordinary leo ki`eki`e (falsetto) voice. …

Remembering Frannie

Mufi Hannemann recalled her never-give-up mantra, her unending support and guidance, and her enduring friendship.

Malene Sai

Marlene Sai sang “I Love You,” one of her signature tunes, which resonated not as romantic love but an endearing friendship anthem, notably weaving in “Frannie” in the final lines of the song with tearfuil eyes. It was an aloha ia oe moment.

Frank DeLima was grateful for the opportunity to work a larger Waikiki venue, with her vision and leadership in fusing Glenn Medeiros as part of a revue following a Don Ho dinner show at the old Polynesian Palace. ‘Twas a concept no one ever imagined.

Linda Coble, an avid showgoer, appreciated the mutual fellowship she received over the decades … as a friend, not a broadcast personality.

Ron Lee, onetime manager of the Outrigger Waikiki showroom, said it simply: She was a great boss, firm but friendly, who occasionally gave him scoldings.

That’s the way the late Frances Kirk, aka Frannie, was remembered and applauded, in a small but warm celebration of her life at the Nuuanu Memorial Park under pandemic protocols, with facemasks and a 25-only headcount.

Kirk was best known as the manager of the Society of Seven group who helped put the Outrigger Waikiki resort’s Main Showroom on the map; notably, Kirk eventually served as the hotel’s entertainment director and secured other talent in the chain’s other venues.  She was embraced as a guiding light for her honesty, savvy and fairness as a hospitality industry leader, but also an admirable example of a good mother to two sons and daughter who always included her mom and dad in her life. Clearly, she wrote her own handbook in dealing with life’s challenges and opportunities.  Rest in peace, Frannie …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Friends will have a chance to say goodbye to the beloved Frances Kirk, the former Outrigger Waikiki entertainment director and one-time manager of the Society of Seven, in a celebration of life memorial set for 1:30 p.m. Friday (Jan. 28) at Nuuanu Mortuary.

Kirk, who moved from Honolulu to Las Vegas, died Nov. 29.

She was a pivotal force in establishing and launching the career of the SOS show band, earlier known as the Fabulous Echoes, as a manager of the group, but also helped shaped and booked acts at the Main Showroom of the Outrigger Waikiki, which since has become the home of Blue Note Hawaii.

Because of pandemic protocols, there is a limit of 25 to attend the service, according to Mike Kirk, son of Frannie. He is attempting to work with the mortuary to perhaps schedule a second around of mourners after the initial services, but that has not yet been confirmed.

Fran Kirk

Folks who were close to the legendary entertainment icon – from former Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who will emcee the services, to performers such as Marlene Sai and Glenn Medeiros —  are expected to share their recollections of Kirk, with a few others yet to be named.

While she was best known as mentor to the SOS, she also was a published author with a passion for storytelling, who wrote a biography of the Tony Ruivivar-led group from the Philippines and Hong Kong, sharing indelible memories of her alliance with the act back in the day when they performed on the Ed Sullivan Show, to more current times, when the band mounted lavish nightclub revues with costumed tributes to Broadway shows, from “The Phantom of the Opera” to “A Chorus Line.”

At the time of her death, Kirk also had been scribbling a novel or two with the hopes of getting them published.

She also was an avid golfer and a realtor, who also enjoyed a good meal and a side order of show biz gossip.

Mike Kirk also is planning an invitational post-service gathering later in the day, with fellowship and kaukau …

Another Kolivas musician

Kainalu Kolivas

Kainalu Kolivas’ group, Dreams of Future Machines, is appearing in a string of New York-area gigs this week, at Pianos in NYC on Wednesday (Jan. 26), The Locker Room in Brooklyn  on Friday (Jan. 28) and at East Berlin in NYC Saturday (Jan.29).  Yes, if the Kolivas name rings a bell, he’s the son of John and Deanna Kolivas, dad being the leader of a jazz group here….

One exit, one new arrival

Because Jason Taglianetti is departing our islands, his “Applause in a Small Room” weekly radio show, which features live shows originating from Hawaii Public Radio’s Atherton Studio, is terminating this Sunday (Jan. 30).

Jason Taglianetti

Taglianetti is an accomplished sound engineer who hosted the radio series, and he’s assembled a mixed bag of performers for the finale: Amy Hanaiali‘i, Alx Kawakami, Peter Rowan and Booker T. Airtime will be from 4 to 5 p.m. Sunday on HPR-1…

Beginning Feb. 6, a new program will launch, “Mauka to Makai,” hosted by Roger Bong, creator of the Aloha Got Soul, a record label that also is a vinyl record shop on King Street. …

And that’s Show Biz. …