“Into the Woods,” the splendid musical with songs by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, can be minimal and magical, or large and luminous. A favorite of stage actors, it’s an ambitious  challenge for any cast, amateur or professional.

Farrington High School’s revival —  directed and choreographed by Aubrey Lee Staley, with the school’s academy director, Miguel Cadoy III as musical director — is somewhere in-between.

For the Kalihi cast, this is a challenging effort, part of the campus journey to bolster acceptance on the theatrical map, with a core of stellar actors who are not yet accomplished dancers. The production does not have an adequate budget but nonetheless keeps tickets at an astonishing low of $10 for adults and there’s no hand-out playbill but you can download the critical credits online.

Yet “Into the Woods,” with its fairybook characters threatened by the giant, still gets “it” when everyone goes frolicking into the woods in search of missions and goals of mundane life. Go see and discover what eagerness looks and sounds like.

The Baker (Isaac Liu) and the Baker’s Life (Janal Baran) want a baby. Little Red Ridinghood (Julian Sanchez) wants to visit Granny (Maryann Nabua), Cinderella (Summer Pilor) wishes to go to the ball. Jack (Axle Munoz) is chastised by his Mother (Lucienne Jamera) for selling Milky White (a cow puppet, designed by Audrey Castandea-Walker, and manipulated by Marky Raphael).
The stepsisters Florinda (Rovie Piso) and Lucinda (Leihua Kuhaulua) want to become the belle of Cinderella’s Prince (Anselm Fautanu). This tale has a second royal, Rapunzel’s (Jade Escalante) Prince (Prince Adena).

The Witch (Cristal Ponce) threatens just about everybody and the Wolf (Brandon Lukas) stalks the little girl with the red cape, so life is a struggle.

And the Narrator (Randyl Degal) is the tour guide as the characters mix, mingle, and connect. He’s very much a part of the wants and needs of all.

With its once-upon-a-time framework, Sondheim’s score and Lapine’s libretto reflect dark and light, sadness  and happiness, and acceptance and resistance plus other dualities of life.

So the Baker and his Wife are instructed by the Witch to secure “a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn and a slipper as pure as gold,” giving them beans from her garden to barter with, and a key thread in the unfolding of the storyline.

The goal for the haggard one really wants these things to reverse a curse on her, to return to her earlier beauty.

The repeating themes: nothing is impossible, so live your dreams. The powerful message: Choices often mean consequence, so not everything comes easily. The outcome: agony can be transformed into hope and happiness.

Sondheim’s melodies are exquisite and often transformational, with cadence and complicated lyrics that define the prolific songwriter’s style, so delivery requires a complex art form of its own. One of the lingering tunes comes late in the show; “No One Is Alone” (delivered by Cinderella, Little Red Ridinghood, the Baker and Jack) is a signature.

And “Finale: Children Will Listen” (by the Witch and the company) is compelling and charismatic.

Director Staley, with  Kirstyn Galiusas as her assistant, works well with the ensemble scenes, bringing out the richness of company voicing; her choreography, however, is serviceable but static, clearly suggesting that dance is not the pivotal trait of her cast.

Erin Kamikawa’s costumes are colorful and functional. Christopher Patrinos is set designer and technical director; his stage design features a stationary principal bridge connects two moveable staircases (think “Hamilton”), garnished by forestry-like vines. The orchestra is situated behind the bridgeway.

There was one mishap, at last Saturday’s performance; the Stepmother’s (Kamakea Wright) wig toppled in one scene, but quickly adjusted, earning slight applause and chuckles.

Advisory: though the play explores beloved fairytale faves that young children may identify with, this is not for the very young, because the show demands quiet concentration.

Yes, the young ones might find delight in Milky White, the puppet cow, who earns a moo-ving cheer at the final curtain, but parents should have discretion in bringing their kids. Despite Sondheim’s vision, all children do not always listen. …

“In the Woods”

What: A musical by Stephen Sondheim, with book by James Lapine.

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (March 3 and 4) and 2 p.m. Sunday (March 5).

Where: Joseph Rider Farrington Auditorium, at Farrington High School.

Tickets: $10 for adults (18 and older), $5 for students (5 through 17), $3 for Farrington students with ID, at https://www.showtix4u.com/events/15389

Download playbill: at https://www.canva.com/design/DAFbc4-g0BU/1k3g-OsVAYCLRaX9kj2Exg/view?utm_content=DAFbc4-g0BU&utm_campaign=designshare&utm_medium=link2&utm_source=sharebutton

And that’s Show Biz. …


“Defining Courage,” an immersive documentary showcasing the emotionally gripping legacy of the Nisei Soldier, will be screened at 7 p.m. March 18 at the Hawaii Theatre.

The wartime movie, from the Emmy-winning team of  Jeff MacIntyre and  David Ono, news anchor from ABC7-Los Angeles News, explores the historic heroics of Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJAs) – largely from Hawaii —  who served  in the battlefields of Italy, France, Germany and Japan. The documentary also includes narration, new footage and live music, with actress Tamlyn Tomita aboard to introduce the film.

These acclaimed soldiers were from the  100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service, based in Hawaii.

While considered the greatest fighting unit in American military history, sadly, most have never heard their extraordinary story. Their legacy is part of the Hawaiian fabric of life, and their motto, “Go for Broke,” has been part of their story and still resonates among the elders in the islands who remember the soldiers because many enlisted from Hawaiian families.

“Defining Courage” documentary features many AJAs from Hawaii.

While their heroics and courage were applauded, the soldiers also had to fight a different war of prejudice at home,  since the U.S. was battling Japan and their planes were bombing Pearl Harbor.

Tamlyn Tomita

The documentary, will be introduced by Tomita, a California-based actress who co-starred in “Karate Kid 2,” the yesteryear film featuring Pat Morita, who also did the original. Tomita also has been featured in the current sequel entitled “Cobra Kai,” starring Ralph Macchio  who was the child star who played Daniel LaRusso in the pair of Morita films and recurs in the reboot with his own karate dojo. Tomita’s credits also includes “The Joy Luck Club.”

Tomita has done advocacy work for this film, and has earlier described it thusly:  “In a theater in front of a live audience, David (Ono) narrates live to beautiful cinematography, historic film, newly filmed footage, and interviews, with a live orchestra choir and soloists all combining to create an immersive and emotional journey that can only be experienced in person.”

Tickets: $25 to $50,” on sale at www.hawaiitheatre.com or  text (808) 528-0506. …

MVT lands ‘Dear Evan Hansen’

Manoa Valley Theatre has secured the rights to the Tony Award-winning musical, “Dear Evan Hansen,” as part of its 2023-24 season.

To celebrate the Hawaii premiere of “Hansen,” MVT has launched a first-time early-renewal offer to current season subscribers, who can reserve seats for six shows for the price of five, along with a gift of chocolates from Choco Le’a.  Season subscribers need to renew by Feb. 28; the offer has been announced to only subscribers, so you already have this data mailed to you.

“Dear Evan Hansen,” won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical and made Ben Platt a household name, when he won Best Actor in a Musical and the youngest (he was 23) to cop the accolade. He also starred in a movie version of the modern musical, that deals with depression, social anxiety, and social media amid the impact of bullying and high school angst.

The show features with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and a book by Steven Levenson. It currently is touring nationally.

Playdates have not yet been announced. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Sounds like a touchdown, for football and TV fans: Netflix and the National Football League are out of the huddle and prepping to stream a football docuseries entitled “Quarterbacks” on Netflix this summer.

The astonishing news is that the show will embrace and have unprecedented access to football icons like Patrick Mahomes of the Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs and his recording breaking total offense record and MVP trophy,  Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings on engineering his greatest comeback to win the NFC North Division title, and – with a Hawaii link – Marcus Mariota reflecting on his first season as starting QB with the Arizona Falcons.

The docuseries, tapped  for one season, will be produced by Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions, partnering with Mahomes’ PM Productions, and will feature video on and off the field.

Patrick Mahomes, during the third quarter in Super Bowl LVII a. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Of course, footage will include some of this past season’s other standouts, not yet revealed, and the Netflix streaming will serve as not only a flashback of the 2022 season, but a likely prelude to the 2023 season.

Marcus Mariota, Arizona QB.

“I’m excited for fans to get an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at an unforgettable season for the entire Chiefs organization and for my family,” said Mahomes in a statement.

 “From welcoming home a new baby in the middle of the season to welcoming the Lombardi trophy back to Kansas City, our crew was there for it all. This new Netflix series will show the time, preparation and balance that it takes to be an NFL quarterback and perform on the biggest stage.”

“Playing quarterback in the NFL is a unique experience that has some pretty incredible ups and downs,” said Manning, himself a former all-star QB. “Thanks to this collaboration with our partners at NFL Films, 2PM Productions and Netflix, fans will be given a unique and intimate look at what life is like as a starting QB.”

“We aim to give our members unprecedented access to the biggest athletes in the world, telling stories that you can’t see anywhere else,” Brandon Riegg, Netflix’s vice president of unscripted and documentary series, said in a statement. “And it doesn’t get any bigger than going inside the huddle with NFL quarterbacks, who hold perhaps the most important and difficult position in sports. We can’t wait to share their stories with our members around the world.” 

Peyton Manning

Manning is executive producer for Omaha Productions. Ross Ketover, Pat Kelleher and Keith Cossrow are executive producers for NFL Films.
Manning played for 18 seasons in the NFL, including  14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and four with the Denver Broncos, and is considered one of football’s greatest QBs. …

Fuga plans mana-fueled shows on Maui, Oahu

Paula Fuga, Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning soul singer, will launch her new venture, Mana Wahine Productions, with a two-island concert on Maui and Oahu in the days ahead.

Paula Fuga

Fresh from her theatrical stage debut as the Fairy Godmother in Diamond Head Theatre’s “Cinderella” musical, Fuga will headline a March 3 show at 8 p.m. at Da Playaground on Maui and March 4 at 8 p.m. at The Republic on Oahu.

The Oahu gig will showcase guests Trishnalei and DJ Keala Kennelly.

“I love having the support of powerful women to help me accomplish my goals and dreams.” said Fuga, founder of Mana Wāhine Productions.  “I’m looking forward to expanding the creative potential of my career with bolder vision and progressive artistic collaborations elevated by my new, independent, Hawaii-based, mana-fueled production company.”

Tickets ($30 and $40 on Maui, $35 on Oahu) are available at https://www.paulafugahawaii.com/live …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Misoyaki butterfish at. Roy’s Hawaii Kai.

Still have fond memories of two separate dining outings the past few weeks. At dinner at Roy’s Hawaii Kai, the misoyaki butterfish still is broke-the-mouth delish; chose a white rice musubi, instead of the standard black-rice ‘neath the exquisitely seasoned fish. The other satisfying lunch meal was at Utage, at City Square in Kalihi, where the nasubi chanpuru, a bowl of nasubi, tofu and roast pork bathed in a perfect sauce, is a wondrous yesterday memory of Okinawan flavors. Oh-so-ono!

Nasubi chanpuru, at Utage’s in Kalihi.


Two anticipated box-office hits loom in March, at Manoa Valley Theatre and Diamond Head Theatre.

The theaters have unveiled their casts for “Tick, Tick…Boom!” and “La Cage Aux Folles.”


Before there was “Rent,” there was “Tick, Tick…Boom!,” an autobiographical and aspirational musical on the artistic struggles of composer-playwright Jonathan Larson, then approaching age 30 without a production bearing his name.

He hustles – down to the wire  — to create his first musical, “Superbia,” but gets stressed out because he can’t complete the show’s final tune. His workshop session is a sellout, but there are no takers.  Playwright Stephen Sondheim supports him, with valid advice: start writing your second show (which turns out to be “Rent,” his signature production).

But he died on the night before its off-Broadway premiere, so “Boom!” explores the earlier months and years of his theatrical anxieties.

Taj Gutierrez

The show will make its Hawaii debut at Manoa Valley Theatre, where it will be staged March 9 to 26.

Taj Gutierrez heads the cast as Jonathan Larson; he last appeared as Judas in DHT’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” last year. Other leads in the cast are, Kimo Kaona as Michael, Larson’s buddy, and  Emily North as Susan, his girlfriend; alternating actors are Moku Durant as Jon, Ian Severino as Michael and Bianca Tubolino as Susan.

Moku Durant

Mathias Maas is director and choreographer, Jenny Shiroma is musical director, David Heulitt is assistant director, Mira Fey is technical director, Elyse Takashige is set designer,  Willie Sabel is scenic art director, La Tanya Faamausili-Siliato is prop designer, Hope Laidlaw is lighting director, Amber Lehua Baker is costume designer,  Lisa Ponce de Leon is hair and makeup designer,  Lock Lynch is sound designer and engineer, Sarah Velasco is assistant sound designer, Janine Myers is master electrician, Taylor Bair is stage manager, and  Maile Alau is intimacy coordinator.

Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Tickets: $42, adults; $37, seniors and military, $24, youths 25 and younger. Reserved seating.

Reservations:   (808) 988-6131 or online at www.manoavalleytheatre.com


Some boys will be girls in “La Cage Aux Folles,” the Broadway musical that gave the world the “I Am What I Am” anthem, which opens March 24 at Diamond Head Theatre.

The show is about Georges, manager of a drag show nightclub starring Albin, his long-time romantic partner. Complications arise when Georges’ son, Jean-Michel, brings home his fiancee’s super-conservative parents to meet them amid the glittering masquerade of men portraying women.

Guy Merola

“La Cage” is based on a film and stage version with the same title, with book by Harvey Fierstein and music by Jerry Herman, based on the original play by Jean Poiret. “The Best of Times” also has been a hit.

The cast features Guy Merola as Georges, Andrew Sakaguchi as Albin,  Charles Ho as Jean-Michel, Nanea Allen as Anne, Aaron Miko as Jacob, Shari Lynn as Jacqueline, Fedrico Biven as Mons. Renaud, Suzanne Maloney as Mme. Renaud,  Joe Martyak as Dindon, Kim Anderson as Marie Dindon and Jake Wolf as Francis.

Andew Sakaguchi

The Cagelles include Jack Dia, Marcus Stanger,  Genesis Kaeo,  Gabriel Ryan-Kern, Jared Duldulao,  Andrew Simmons,  Brittany Lewis,  Anastasia Chrysler, and Heather Taylor.

Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Saturdays; and 4 p.m. Sundays.

Tickets: $27,  $37 and $52;  no senior, military, or student discounts. Call (808) 733-0374 or visit www.diamondheadtheatre.com

Broadway grosses, week ending Feb. 19

With the looming closure of “The Phantom of the Opera,” the continues to draw first-time or repeat viewers, making the Andrew Lloyd-Webber classic the longest-running musical on Broadway, the chart-topper.

The top seven grossing shows last week:

1 — “The Phantom of the Opera,: $2.562 million,

2 — “Hamilton,” $2.000 million.

3 — “The Lion King,” $1.929 mlllion.

4 — “Funny Girl,” $1.833 million.

5 — :”MJ,” $1.823 million

6 — “Wicked,” $1.791 million.

7 — “Moulin Rouge,” 1.590 million.

The complete rundown of the shows, courtesy The Broadway League:

And that’s Show Biz. …