A call is out in Hawaii for a cast of actors – some fluent in Hawaiian, others not so much – to mount a family musical about a fictional mouse named Wordsworth, a poetic extension of author Frances Kakugawa.

Now a Sacramento resident, Kakugawa – formerly of Kapoho and Honolulu – has had this theatrical project delayed because of the pandemic, but a creative team from Hilo finally is readying its next step …  to begin the audition process for roles in the musical, which will be performed on stage in the original English and on a planned recorded version totally in the Hawaiian language.

The transition from page to stage is not wasted on Kakugawa, an award-winning author whose poetry has been the foundation of her earlier career as a school teacher. Besides her Wordsworth editions, her books on caregiving have inspired seniors to tap poetry as a means of personal expression, and she has been an advocate of Alzheimer’s and has parlayed her experience into motivational caregiving workshops, often embracing poetry.

Frances Kakugawa

“I heard the music of Wordsworth singing his poems on stage only in the English version and it gave me chicken skin and brought me to tears,” said Kakugawa, whose anticipation is high and hearty,

Wordsworth has been her pet project, with four books popular among school students. The character is a model of a mouse who sees the world through his creative mind and the lens of poetry; his ‘ohana, friends and neighbors learn to accept and appreciate his special gift of imagination and wonderment.
Wendell Ing, a Hilo entertainer and attorney by trade, has composed a score for the show and the script by Jackie Pualani Johnson has been translated into ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi by Pōhai Montague-Mullins.

The creative team, led by director Justina Taft Mattos, also includes choreographer Kea Kapahua and Lizby Logsdon, a Hilo Community Theater designer of costumes for Shakespearean plays, who is designing mousewear for this show.

“When I wrote the series, it was a dream to have it on stage someday,” said Kakugawa. “Okay, Broadway was too far-fetched but at least on a stage, that dream is coming true.”

Wordsworth, the mouse poet

The drama group at the University of Hawaii at Hilo secured the rights to stage the show, and the in-Hawaiian version, elevates the project to new heights, since the production will heavily weigh on actors who can speak and deliver the Hawaiian poetry in a lofty cultural boost.

Though Wordsworth has been familiar via his presence in Kakugawa’s books, he’s remained the same age over the decades “although the themes became more complicated. Some middle school readers have asked that he get married to one of the characters,” she added.

Character roles are listed at the show’s website.

Kakugawa’s “Wordsworth” character is featured in four books to date.

Four volumes of Wordsworth’s words and poems have been published; the musical fleshes out characters and situations from the printed page, offering life lessons and imagination to share.

Kakugawa said the cloud of COVID-19 earlier and Omicron later has been a bit worrisome. “I sure wish I’m still alive to see it on stage,” she said. “I’m so excited that I’m spooked.”

Those eager to begin the audition process should check the show’s website:

A Feb. 6 deadline is in place.

Applicants should peruse the site for options on where to send audition video, the roles available, the demands for some key roles requiring savvy and competence in the Hawaiian language.

To contact director Mattos directly, email her at <>


Ideally, prospects seeking roles should live on the Big Island, since the rehearsal process will require troupers to be available for extended periods of time.

Said director Mattos: “There very well might be two separate casts, due to the fact that we are doing the Hawaiian version this spring, and the English language version
next fall. Not all actors can commit to a project that spans nearly a year
. . . so we are assuming that we may need to re-cast some, or all, of the
roles next fall.”

Performance dates will be announced later. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


It’s somewhat “Desperate” times at Manoa Valley Theatre again. Its much-delayed “Desperate Measures” comedy has been moved back again, now premiering – hopefully – Jan. 27 instead of this Thursday (Jan. 13).

And you guessed right: COVID-19 has menaced MVT’s staging for three calendar years along with the surge of the Omicron variant this year, prompting MVT to once again push back

“Desperate Measures” is an Old West sendup of Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” in its Hawaii premiere.

Playdates are now from Jan. 27 through Feb. 6, and season ticket holders are asked to contact MVT via phone  (808-988-6131) or email  ( to adjust performance dates. Shows are staged at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and at 3 p.m.  Saturdays and Sundays.

“Desperate Measures” has again been pushed back at MVT, with a new Jan. 27 opening date.

“Just days before the opening of ‘Desperate Measures,’ we were forced to close our doors due to health and safety concerns,” said Kip Wilborn, MVT managing director, on an online post.  He added, “(MVT) has proven resilient and nimble in many ways, rescheduling an entire season, pivoting to hybrid (live and streaming) programming, postponing and rescheduling the beginning of the current season. This path has been anything but a straight line.”

Indeed, the theater has taken curves and turnarounds and traveled a bumpy road since the pandemic started in 2019, and Wilborn said the latest surge of new (Omicron)
case numbers has elevated safety concerns not just of viewers/patrons, but theater’s staff, cast and volunteers, prodding the latest detour.

Despite the pandemic cloud, normal seating – with all seats filled – will prevail. …

Weight and see

Charles Degala

Charles Degala, a veteran community actor and singer absent from the limelight for a spell, is back in the spotlight as host of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel’s upscale “Aha ‘Aina” luau show, easily the best revue of its kind, blending Hawaiian culture and history and told with exquisite mele and hula. It’s staged on the front lawn of the Pink Palace, with vistas of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head.

Perhaps the latest gig prompted him to lose weight, as he posted a photo and quotable on his Facebook page, saying “Excited that I was able to finally tuck in my shirt! Here’s to the new me! 40 lbs. gone.” …

New date for Nievera, Paulo

Michael Paulo

Singer Martin Nievera and saxophonist Michael Paulo have rescheduled their collaboration concert, from Jan. 15 to March 3. Yes, it’s a Thursday, because weekends at the Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra’s Hibiscus Ballroom are filled and a substitute date suitable for both entertainers was key in the decision.

Further, because it’s a week night, so the event will start earlier, at 7:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. A full contingent of earlier named back-up singers and musicians remains unchanged.

Both headliners are audience faves, Nievera for his smooth vocals (they call him “the concert king of the Philippines”), Paulo for his savvy saxophone jazz performances. For adjustments and reservations, go to …

On the radio

Following its recent housecleaning, SummitMedia Honolulu has named Kona Chang program director of ethnic stations FM 100 The Legend KCCN and Hawaiian 105.1 KINE, and Micah Banks as p.d. of Krater 96 KTRT and Power 104.3 KPHW.

“The promotion of these two Hawaii radio legends … affirm our commitment to continuing the tradition of Hawaiian music,” said Patti Ponimoi, newly installed president. Chang and Banks assume roles previously held by Wayne Maria, who was part of the mass firings last week. Clearly, Summit needs to rebuild and restore listenership with the hiring of new on-air personalities, not yet named. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


The Golden Globes – remember them? –  were bestowed Sunday, without fanfare, without the usual televised version of the ceremonies, without the customary buzz.

Hollywood – remember them, too? – snubbed the rituals this year because of the lack of diversity in 2021 not just among contenders but because of scarcity of people of color  (like, no blacks, and wonder if there were Asians) among the voters.

So if the sponsoring Hollywood Foreign Press Association repaired or reviewed its playbook, no one knows. If the Globes are precursors of the upcoming Academy Awards ceremonies, we shall all have to wait and see.

The Golden Globe

The two “big” winners each earned three awards: “The Power of the Dog” and “West Side Story.” The former is a difficult drama to endure (dark and dreary, but directed by an industry fave, Jane Campion) and the latter was a major remake of a landmark film (visceral and vibrant, directed by the respected Steven Spielberg)  that was a the box office flop .

So who won what? A recap, if you’re wondering:

Best motion picture, drama

The Power of the Dog

Best actress in a motion picture, drama

Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos

Best actor in a motion picture, drama

Will Smith, “King Richard

Best motion picture, comedy or musical

West Side Story

Best actress in a motion picture, comedy or musical

Rachel Zegler, “West Side Story”

Best actor in a motion picture, comedy or musical

Andrew Garfield, “Tick, Tick… Boom!”

Best director, motion picture

Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”

Best supporting actress in a motion picture

Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story”

Best supporting actor in a motion picture

Kodi Smit-McPhee, “The Power of the Dog”

Best TV series, drama

Succession” (HBO)

Best actress in a TV series, drama

Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, “Pose”

Best actor in a TV series, drama

Jeremy Strong, “Succession

Best TV series, comedy or musical

“Hacks” (HBO Max)

Best actress in a TV series, comedy or musical

Jean Smart, “Hacks”

Best actor in a TV series, comedy or musical

Jason Sudeikis, “Ted Lasso

Best limited series or TV movie

The Underground Railroad” (Amazon)

Best actress in a limited series or TV movie

Kate Winslet, “Mare of Easttown

Best actor in a limited series or TV movie

Michael Keaton, “Dopesick”

Best supporting actress in a TV series

Sarah Snook, “Succession”

Best supporting actor in a TV series

O Yeong-su, “Squid Game

Best original score, motion picture

Hans Zimmer, “Dune

Best screenplay, motion picture

Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast”

Best animated feature film


Best foreign language film

Drive My Car” (Japan)

Best original song, motion picture

“No Time to Die,” from “No Time to Die

And that’s Show Biz. …


That Martin Nievera-Michael Paulo concert, slated for Saturday (Jan.15) at the Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra, has been postponed because of the COVID-19 and the Omicron variant threatening the health and welfare of patrons.

In a statement to ticket buyers, Paulo – producer of the event – said “Because of the serious covid challenges and recent surge in Hawaii that became overwhelming, I have decided to postpone the concert until a later date.”

Michael Paulo

A rescheduled date has not yet been set, but Paulo, the noted jazz saxophonist,  indicated that singer Nievera “is in agreement with us.”

If a suitable makeup date can’t be confirmed, Paulo said that refunds in full will be made.

He added, “I pray that all of you will continue to remain safe and healthy.” …

If you’re going out…

So this is a good time as any, to repeat a sensible advisory:

If you plan a night out, at a show at large venues such as  Blaisdell Center and the Hawaii Theatre, or smaller venues like Blue Note Hawaii, Diamond Head Theatre or Manoa Valley Theatre, you should check with the sites and/or presenters. Protocols may be heightened.

With fluid policies that might change, today’s guidelines may be tightened two days ahead.

What’s still relevant: facemasks are required, while watching a performance of any kind; proof of vaccinations/boosters is mandatory; a valid photo ID also will be required. Be prepared; don’t try to enter a venue without a mask or that vaxx documentation.

Arguing or pleading is not acceptable. So be responsible. Follow the rules. Be safe. Be prepared.

It also might be prudent to repeat that early suggestion at the beginning of the pandemic. Wash your hands thoroughly…by singing Happy Birthday two times. …


Jacob Batalon, the Hawaii native who has become a breakout film star in the “Spider-Man” films, can add his name to the list of celebs appearing in national commercials.

Jacob Batalon

Batalon plays best friend Ned Leeds opposite crimefighter Tom Holland as the titular webbed warrior; both appear in a new Hyundai car commercial, in which Batalon is in the driver’s seat.

The pair of stars in the Marvel cinematic universe still rule the box office with their “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” with $1.5 billion in global grosses so far. They are real-life best friends, too.
It’s likely yet another “Spider-Man” film is forthcoming, but there’s no word whether Holland and Batalon will be repeaters again. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Unbeknown to most residents or media, President Barack Obama has been holidaying  in Hawaii, presumably with wife Michelle, and likely maintaining a low profile.

But his stay in Hawaii was mentioned on CNN this morning  (Jan. 8) with reports that No. 44 had been in our midst but was en route to the Las Vegas memorial ceremonies today for the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who died Dec. 28 at the age of  82 in Henderson, Nevada.

Barack Obama

Obama, who credits Reid for his success to the White House, was to deliver the eulogy.

There’s been no sight-‘ems of the Obamas, not even reports that he was out enjoying shave ice as he has done during his vacations here. And the closure of Alan Wong’s means that the first family has had to seek other dining opportunities.

You think they might have done take-out orders anytime? …

The Obamas spent Christmas in Hawaii, according to The New York Post, which posted pics of Obama swimming and first daughters – Sasha, 20, and Malia, 23 — perched on paddleboards in the sea.

“Sasha, who was decked out in a red bikini and chunky jewelry, was pictured at various points kneeling and standing on her board as she glided through the water,” the Post said.

“Her sister, Malia, who graduated from Harvard University over the summer, wore a pink tie-dye bikini top, white skirt and baseball hat for the water outing.”

Michelle Obama apparently didn’t go to the beach with the family.

Thanks, June Yago, for flagging the Post article. …

Monday shake-up for CBS

CBS has delayed screening of new episodes of “NCIS” and its spin-off “NCIS: Hawai‘i” this coming Monday. Instead, a repeat of an episode of the mother ship show, “Nearly Departed,” will be in store at 7 p.m., with an encore of a “Hawai‘i” segment, “Rescuers,” at 8 p.m.

Vanessa Lachey

It’s been a shaky week or two for the NCIS franchise. Before the postponement of the new episodes, reports from CBS had confirmed a future crossover show with the original NCIS, with special agent Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) and Knight (Katrina Law) would be heading our way, to join agent Tennant (Vanessa Lachey) in crime-solving in Hawaii.

The crossover was nixed and put on hold, when the COVID-19 virus hit the set of the mothership cast, according to Deadline. A timetable has not yet been determined.

New episodes for both “NCIS” and “NCIS: Hawai‘i” are scheduled for Jan. 17. …

And that’s Show Biz. …