If you adore musical theater, love the shows of Rodgers & Hammerstein, miss the Golden Age of Broadway musicals and want to see a splendid cast of local talent — mostly troupers who performed these songs under the tutelage of the late Ron Bright — head over to Paliku Theatre at Windward Community College tonight (Sept. 30) and tomorrow afternoon (Oct. 1).
The attraction is “An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics, the first tunefest produced by the I’m A Bright Kid (IABK) foundation since the pandemic shut down Broadway fare and limiting the IABK focus to summertime kid-centric shows.
This one’s a wow. Wow, wow, wow!
This latest concoction collates titles from R&H’s Big Five shows, “The King and I,” “Carousel,” “South Pacific,” “The Sound of Music,” and “Oklahoma!”
The opening first notes and lyrics from “It’s a Grand Night for Singing” featuring the solo voice of the incomparable Michael Bright, provides a chicken skin moment and underlying theme of the production: It was a grand night for listening and reminiscing and applauding.
Directed by Ligaya Stice, IABK executive director, the evening was a concise, luminous, rapturous, and gratifying tapestry from the R&H songbook, filled with familiar melodies staged simply but effectively, minus the usual costumes and storytelling, but periodically embracing choreography and demonstrating a Mr. B trait: family virtues and participation.
The performers include many Brights, including the aforementioned Michael, Mr. B’s younger son and his wife Jade Bright, and a cluster of grandchildren, Caitlin Bright, Colton Bright, Drew Bright, plus another musical Bright, elder son Clarke Bright, in a rare role – drummer in the band of four.
Jade Stice, resident diva of IABK, works her magic.
- Jade Stice is the undeniable IABK resident diva, who owns whatever she sings. Her best moment is her “Bali Hai” solo, making the mythic island real. She also is radiant on “Something Wonderful,” and works her magic amid kids on “My Favorite Things.”
- Michael Bright is a proven soloist, time after time, and “Younger Than Springtime” validates his vigor; with wife Jade Bright, “I Have Dreamed” is a sweet anthem of hope, while “People Will Say We’re in Love,” rings true as bona fide romantics.
- Buz Tennent, rarely seen or heard lately, has an operatic baritone voice, capable of reaching those low, low notes, and he uses it well, notably on the classic “Some Enchanted Evening,” which might be deemed his nighttime hit here, and “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning,” which showcases his eloquence with a sunny stroke.
- Mary Hicks is entrusted with the inspirational fare, and she makes her soprano glow on “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” and is one of the forces on “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” joined by Caitlin Bright, Jade Bright, Caris Leong, Jodi Leong, Jade Stice, and Azaliah Kekuna.
- Bryce-William Irvine contributes a rhapsodic “If I Loved You,” demonstrating leading man potential and confidence.
- The teen pendulum swings engagingly, with Drew Bright and Azaliah Kekuna swapping teen emotions.
- Two group efforts are fun and charming. “There Is Nothing Like a Dame” is a playful romp, delivered by Colton Bright, Drew Bright, Kainalu Durkin, Bryce-William Irvine, Allan Lau, Damian Mendez, and Devon Nekoba. The youthful singing ensemble combines rollicking dancing on “Do-Re-Mi,” featuring Caitlin Bright, Colton Bright, Drew Bright, Azaliah Kekuna, Mikaela Freitas, Bailey Fujita, Aniylah Henry, and Jake Sato.
The “Rodgers and Hammerstein” cast takes a final curtain bow.
The staging is spartan yet efficient, comprising a platform designed by DeAnne Kennedy, for musicians So Jin Kimura (piano), Lynell Bright (keyboard), John Kolivas (bass) and Clarke Bright (drums); two staircases boast platforms for singers/dancers.
A dozen background panels enable projection of images (designed by Anna Foster), providing archival images from Mr. B’s past shows.
Clarke Bright (music director) and So Jin Kimura (vocal director) are multi-tasking musicians.
Lighting designer Janine Myers, sound designer Kings Kalohelani and hair and makeup designers Kevin Murata and Mia Yoshimoto provide stellar tech support…
And that’s Show Biz…
“An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics”
A musical revue of Rodgers and Hammerstein evergreens, from “King & I,” “South Pacific,” “Oklahoma!,” “Carousel” and “Sound of Music,” reflecting the favorite titles of the late Ron Bright.
Where: Paliku Theatre, Windward Community College
When: 7:30 p.m. today (Sept. 30) and 4 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 1)
Tickets: Premium, $32; adult, $27; seniors 65+, students up to 13, military, $22’ children 6-12, $17; free, toddlers 2 to 5; babies under 2 not allowed; reservations at https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/75827 …