MATTERS OF THE HEART

It’s February, and yes, Valentine’s Day looms.

To my network of friends and allies, check your mailbox: mailings are out to you.

The pins were fun to make, but had a last-minute burst of creativity: concocted one shadow-box for Valentine’s, already distributed to a longtime buddy, and shared here.

ZIPPY’S CLOSING HAWAII KAI DINE-IN

So you must know that Zippy’s Hawaii Kai will shut down its dining room with last meals served on Feb. 5. The take-out counter will continue, possibly through the end of this year.

But it’ll be a sad day when the Zippy’s in my East Oahu community closes its doors.

The location, formerly Castagnola’s, is the chain’s only restaurant boasting a spectacular marina view. Daytime, boats and ducks share the watery view, and nights without moons enable the businesses across the way provide twinkling lights.

It’s not magical, but it’s been a precious location for family meals, take-out, and breakfasts with friends and allies. But location isn’t a factor in the closure. There are several issues at stake.The senior discount cards/program, which provided 10 per cent discounts for everything, from table meals to carry-out, party platters and birthday cakes, though not for special orders like Thanksgiving turkeys. It was a popular promotion, but perhaps too popular, eating into the bottom line: profits.

Zippy’s crispy fried chicken

The issues at Hawaii Kai are understandable. The restaurant can’t find workers/servers and two but seldom three servers usually have to seat folks, get and place orders, serve the meals, sometimes do table bussing work, too. And deliver the check, too. Sometimes only two diners are waiting to be seated; 20 minutes later, there may be 10 or 12, and it’s not surprising that a party or two or four walk out because no one pays attention to the back-up.

The exterior is deteriorating, losing its glory day looks; the dining room was tuned up with plexiglas, a sign of the pandemic. But inside story is plain and simple: business is way down, food prices have risen, and marina views no longer are cherished.

What I’ll miss: the fried chicken, with its crispy skin;  the Zip-Min or the wun ton min, with generous extras like the eggs, and char siu, and the Napoleon Bakery’s  Napples. I assume the bakery, next to and part of the dine-out windows, will linger, and limp along without the declining walk-ins at the dining room.

What’s also been great: You can order your coffee and eggs-and-meat combos or pancakes and waffles, made fresh, and patter and chatter will include coffee re-fills. Elsewhere, the eateries still open for three meals a day, don’t appreciate your over-stays because they need the turnaround business.

The glory days at Zippy’s Hawaii, at the Koko Marina Shopping Center

I still patronize the restaurant, particularly after an early movie visit at the Koko Marina film complex. I fear that the theaters could shut down, too, with fewer and fewer turning out to watch a movie on a big screen. A blockbuster helps fills the corridors on opening night, but otherwise, you don’t see folks bustling to their seats. Streaming at home could be a culprit, ‘cuz there’ve been times when my wife and I are the lone souls watching a new movie. But that’s another story for another time.

Zippy’s management has not provided vital support for more hands on deck, or tending to reports of the air-conditioning going down and other ills of running a restaurant. Zippy’s Hawaii Kai ran out of printed menus in the last weeks of operations, and refills were not provided since the closure was near.

The restaurant had a special-area bar, which shut down years ago, and when business was brisk, it provided overflow space for diners. During the pandemic, that site was supposed to be an employee lounge, but only once did I see a worker actually in that dark and unfriendly room. At one time, Rotarians booked it for monthly luncheon meetings, but no more.

Wait staff has mentioned the restaurant wanted to pare down its lease rent with the shopping center; no one has confirmed or denied.

Since there’s no knowledge if Zippy’s still has to pay for the vacant dining room, in the months ahead, or even if there might be a turnabout and change of plans and a future reopening decision. Perhaps the community needs to rally and sound off, but also put its money where the mouth is … and dine in, like the old days.

What do you think?

Meanwhile, down the street on Kalanianaole Highway, Roy’s Restaurant – which recently marked its 35th anniversary and survived the devastating decline of business during the pandemic – has sorta become my neighborhood restaurant. Yes, it’s many steps above Zippy’s, and costlier to dine there. No,  there’s no breakfast service but I’ll drive to Zippy’s Kahala. But I don’t want Roy Yamaguchi to close his flagship restaurant. …

Oldies and still goodies

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will concertize at 8 p.m. March 18 at the Tom Moffatt Waikiki Shell. But Valli will be the lone voice in the Broadway musical that depicted the original “Jersey Boys.”

Frankie Valii

The popular foursome in the hit Broadway musical explored the life and times of Valli and his buddies. The act, of course, concocted such hit songs as “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Sherry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Dawn,” “Rag Doll,” and “Bye Bye Baby.”

The original Seasons, led by Valli, were Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Massi. Over the years, other singers-musicians provided the music and vocal harmonies to support Valli’s trademark high notes …

The Doobie Brothers are also booked for a show at 7:30 p.m. May 5  at the Waikiki Shell.

This rock-and-soul group has produced such best-sellers as “Listen to the Music,” “Black Water,” “Takin’ It to the Street,” “What a Fool Believes,”and  “Long Train Running.”

The Doobies include Michael McDonald, Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons and John Hartman . …

And that’s Show Biz. …

REVIEWS: ‘CINDERELLA,’ ‘EDWIN DROOD’

We’re reviewing two stage musicals here — Diamond Head Theatre’s “Cinderella,” the first show in its new facility, and Manoa Valley Theatre’s “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”

We liked one, but not so much the other…

‘Cinderella’

“Cinderella,” the Rodgers and Hammerstein version of the fairy tale about a servant girl who has dreams of good fortunes, is the first musical in the new $22.37 million Diamond Head Theatre.

It is not to be confused with the popular animated Disney version, though the characters are similar: Cinderella has a stepmother and two dipsy stepsisters, in a kingdom where a Prince is staging a ball and looking for love.

Of course, there is a Fairy Godmother who grants Cinderella her wish to attend the ball, but there is no “Bibbidy-Bobbidy -Boo” song here.


The last Broadway revival of this R&H version was known for the incredible and inventive costume design, which won a Tony Award for William Ivey Long, who literally turned rags to riches into marvelous garb with the changes instantly right before your eyes. I saw it on Broadway and not much more mattered, considering this gift of instantaneous wardrobe change.

DHT’s rendering boasts great voices, but redundant choreography scenes, and its  fab costume switch, with Ella’s ball grown drifting downward on a hanger  from the venue’s new fly space is effective  –with kokua from a few huddled cast members – with the unseen switcheroo happening as quickly as possible.

The palatial ball, however  lacks sparkle and party frou-frou, with a skimpy wooden frame depicting a staircase for Ella’s entrance, almost as if funding for a prettier set fell short because money was spent on the theater, a priority over a glitzy party décor.

Christine Kluvo has the right look and voice to render Ella, but the “find” is Paula Fuga as the Godmother, a rather calm savior who brings command and wisdom to the plate; “It’s Possible” is her motto, not “Impossible,” and “Fol-de-Rol” is her answer to “Bibbidy-Bobbidy-Boo.”

Larry Paxton as The King and Anna Young as The Queen also provide vocal enchantment, and in this telling, the stepmother (Lisa Konove) and her two diddley daughters Portia (Stacy Pulmano) and Joy (Barrie Kealoha) are  simply cartoonish figures in flamboyant costumes and giddy but not genuinely funny.

The Prince (Nick Amador) has a competent voice, but seems to be  a boring royal who finally takes an interest in the ball after Ella shows up in his life. You know the drill; she cuts short her visit because, well, you know what happens after midnight if she’s tardy.

Though the theater has that aerial loft, some set pieces (Ella’s home and the palace exterior) still are rolled on and off stage, the old-fashioned way. And while there is an orchestra pit, musical conductor Lindsay Rabe didn’t take that post-intermission bow.

Alas, director-choreographer John Rampage can’t manufacture laugher or emotion if  they’re not in the script. And with obvious budget constraints, set designer Dawn Oshima and prop designer John M. Cummings III could not fill the stage with grand embellishments. Even the chariot that brings Ella to the ball – the re-imagined pumpkin-turned-coach – is flat with a lone merry-go-round pony.

In her finale as costume director, the retiring Karen G. Wolfe creates elegant gowns and suits favoring hues of sherbet, salmon and white,  for the cast of nearly 40. Or perhaps she can squeeze a dollar from a quarter.

Rampage, as DHT’s artistic director,  has been a tireless and innovative craftsman for decades but misses the mark here. The magical spell is missing.

The new theater is awesome, offering comfortable seats, leg room. and great sight patterns, though there’s no far left or far right aisle, if your seats are in the first six or seven rows. The interior looks like a work in progress, so the space has no personality.

There’s a concession bar plus ample restrooms (outdoors, not within the theater).

The capacity is nearly 500 seats, equaling the old DHT, now demolished. The new main entrance is on the makai side of the new facility, instead of the usual back of the house entry facing the street, so if you park at Kapiolani Community College, there are steps or a wheelchair walkway, to get below street level and the side “front” door.

And parking at KCC currently is a maze, because of construction work and coning and barricading, the only entry is from Makapuu Avenue and one way  is out via Kilauea Avenue, so caution is advised.

‘Cinderella’

Plays Thursdays through Sundays, through Feb. 12. According to the DHT website, the run — including a week’s extension — is virtually sold out.

Tickets: (808) 733-0274  or at www.diamondheadtheatre.com

‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’

Manoa Valley Theatre boasts a stunning revival of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” playing through Jan. 29, and the impressive music-hall set, designed by Andrew Doan, is the first thing you see. The two pairs of box seats (three are utilized as staging areas, the fourth houses orchestra) punctuate the setting of a show house in the London of 1895.

Update: MVT has extended the run of “Drood” through Feb. 5.

The velvet curtain opens, and you start meeting and hearing  this vigorous and vital ensemble, and they’re having fun and you can’t resist joining in. Enticing entertainment follows,.

Directed and choreographed by Miles Phillips (with Taylor Gruver as co-choreographer), this little musical, written by Rupert Holmes, is a play within a play, inspired by an unfinished Charles Dickens novel, which enables the show to engage the audience in deciding who among the cast is a murderer.

Being an ensemble piece, everyone is a somebody and every move might be a clue in this whodunit. If there are “leads,” it would be Christopher Denton as the Chairman, Mr. William Cartwright, Miguel Cadoy III, as Mr. Clive Paget as John Jasper; Susan Johnson Green, as Miss Angela Prysock as Princess Puffer; Kim Anderson, as Miss Deirdre Peregrine as Rosa Bud; Chelsea Carline as Miss Alice Nutting, as Edwin Drood; and Alexandra Zinov as Miss Janet Conover as Helena Landless.

Some of the ensemble characters in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”

The score offers a gamut of styles, from quasi-opera to show-tune ballads, from light rock to jaunty gems, but no hummable tunes you’ll remember. But Denton as the emcee-chairman, and Cadoy as Jasper, engage in a jewel of a tongue-twister and rapid-fire “Both Sides of the Coin.” Worth going just to experience and applaud this one.

Musical director Jenny Shiroma, as orchestra maestro, has a couple of occasions to shout out a reply from an actor, and she plays the game like the rest of us.

Hannah Jitsukawa’s costumes reflect the era, from bright and showbizzy to dark and somber.

A raise-your-hand survey, to determine the culprit, is somewhat overplayed, and yes, votes matter.

‘The Mystery Edwin Drood’

Playing Thursdays through Sundays, through Jan.29. Update: The show has been extended through Feb. 5.

Tickets: $24 to $45, discounts available for seniors, military, and youths up to 25,  at (808) 988-6131  or www.manoavalleytheatre.com

Broadway grosses, for week ending Jan. 22

With the closure of “The Music Man,” Hugh Jackman’s $3 million-plus blockbuster during most of its run, guess which show now is the No. 1 hottie. The top seven productions, for the week ending Jan. 22:

No. 1 — “The Phantom of the Opera,” $2.227 million. It winds up its extended run on April 16.

No. 2 — “Hamilton,”: $1.946 million.

No. 3 — “Funny Girl,” $1.933 million.

No. 4 — “The Lion King,” $1.795 million.

No. 5 –“Wicked,” $1.657 million.

No. 6 — “MJ,” $1.654 million.

No. 7 — “Moulin Rouge,” $1.437 million.

The compilation is courtesy The Broadway League:

And that’s Show Biz. …

And that’s Show Biz. …

SHARI RETURNING TO HILTON FEB. 4

Jazz  — and live music — will bloom again at the Paradise Lounge of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, just outside of the resort’s Bali Restaurant.

After a New Year’s Eve trial run at the hotel, singer Shari Lynn and pianist Jim Howard will return to the site, presiding from  7 to 10 p.m. on the first and third Saturdays of the month, beginning Feb. 4.

Shari Lynn

According to Shari, the format will  includes classics from the Great American Songbook catalogue and Broadway and show tunes, with the accent on jazz and standards.

There is no cover or minimum, but seating is limited.

Other acts will be recruited for other Fridays and Saturdays, as the hotel attempts to bring back live music to this venue. …

Jo Pruden

Meanwhile, Shari will be one of three actresses – the others are Jo Pruden and Eden Lee Murray – who will participate in “Murder, Margaret ad Me,” a Windward Reader’s Theatre event, at 7:30 p.m. next Monday through Wednesday (Jan. 23, 24 and 25), at the Brad Powell Theatre under the auspices of The Actors Group (TAG).

Eden Lee Murray

The program explores the friendship and relationships of Margaret Rutherford (who appeared as Miss Marple, in the author Agatha Christie’s film whodunnits).

Vanita Rae Smith, who has previously staged Readers Theatres shows at Richardson Theatre at Ft. Shafter and Pohai Nani in Kaneohe, will direct.

Tickets are $20. Call TAG at (808) 722-6941. …

‘Magnum’ will offer some skin

The red Ferrari, check.

The freeway races and chases, check.

The panoramic aerial shots of Hawaii’s mountain and ocean spectacles, check.

Perdita Weeks, Jay Hernandez

“Magnum P.I.” will return in an abbreviated season (fewer episodes) and on a new network (NBC now, since CBS said aloha).

Expect the usual, but anticipate a bit of skin between Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez) and Juliet Higgins (Perdita Weeks). When we last saw ‘em in the CBS finale, Magnum and Higgins were clinched together and enjoying a bona fide romantic kiss. A new clip promoting the move to NBC, shared on Instagram, briefly shows the couple in the shower. Together.

Showrunner Eric Guggenheim has indicated that  viewers should expect a bit more romantic sizzle as the  relationship of the crime-fighting partners develops. “This season is sexier. It is more romantic, more emotional,” he said on on NBC’s Television Critics Assn. press tour.

Evidence: That  teaser in a new  preview of the two leads in the shower together.

The new season kicks off  at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 19, with back-to-back episodes. Thereafter, “Magnum” will occupy that 8 p.m. Sunday slot, with next-day streaming on Peacock. …

Roy’s: 35 and counting

Roy Yamaguchi

Chef Roy Yamaguchi is heading toward his 36th season at his flagship Roy’s Restaurant in Hawaii Kai, and his 35th anniversary celebration Thursday night (Jan. 19) had a “party like it’s 1988” theme.

A crew of former and current Roy’s exec chefs and chefs — Jackie Lau, Ronnie Nasuti, Chris Garnier, Lyndsey Simone and Isaiah Badua –prepared a bevy of treats and eats in a fab grazing party. Badua’s mochi crusted colossal shrimp, Lau’s seared U-10 diver scallops and Nasuti’s sous vide lamb loin were particular favorites.

The celebrants included vendors, patrons and fans past and present, and it was a joy to meet up again with Philip Shaw, the first manager at Roy’s, who now oversees Michel’s at the Colony Surf. …

Broadway grosses, for week ending Jan. 15

A couple of new leaders has emerged in the top seven roster of top Broadway attractions:

1 – “The Music Man,” $3.589 million.

2 – “The Phantom of the Opera,” $2.189 million.

3 – “Hamilton,” $2.078 million.

4—“Funny Girl,” $2.017 million.

5 – “Lion King,” $1.885 million.

6 – “A Beautiful Noise,” $1.184 million.

7 –“MJ,” $1.719 million.

The list is courtesy The Broadway League. …

And that’s Show Biz. …

A CASINO HOTEL IN TIMES SQUARE?

Can you imagine a casino and hotel smack dab  in the heart of Broadway’s Times Square?

It could happen, sooner or later, depending on who gets the nod to develop the casino/gambling rights over the next year or decade.

Roc Nation, the show biz agency founded by Jay-Z, is one of a growing list of three prospects to build a gambling element in the heart of the Great White Way, which, of course, is a mecca for Broadway musicals, plays, and comedies.

The site in the heart of Times Square, where the glittering ball is dropped on New Year’s Eve, is a 54-story office structure that fronts 44th and 45th Streets, and tenants include Viacom, whose global anchor is here, plus the Minskoff Theatre, where “The Lion King” has been roaring there since Disney relocated the hit musical.

If successful, developer  SL Green and Caesars Entertainment and could help provide billions of dollars in tax revenue to New York City and New York State.

A rendering of the Caesars Palace Time Square hotel and casino.

Caesars Palace Times Square would likely occupy the lower eight floors of the building, while an 800-key hotel would complement the casino and occupy the floors above. Further, several restaurants and entertainment destinations could be provided by Roc Nation.

“There’s no better partner than Jay-Z and Roc Nation to help Caesars Palace Times Square ensure that Times Square remains a global entertainment hub and an economic engine for New York,” said Marc Holliday, chairman and CEO of SL Green, in a recent statement. “Together, we will bring the nearly 130 million annual pedestrians a stronger and more exciting Times Square to visit, reunifying the bow tie around a new set of innovative programming that will appeal to New Yorkers and tourists.”

The project team for Caesars Palace Times Square indicates the bid —  one of two in the running  — is supported by a broad coalition of Times Square stakeholders representing construction labor, Broadway labor, restaurants, hotels, small businesses, theater, and local residents. AKRF, a New York City-based engineering and developer consulting firm, projects an annual increase of seven million new visitors, should the casino be approved.

“We have the opportunity to create a destination at the heart of Times Square, the true crossroads of the world,” said Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter. “My partnership with SL Green and Caesars, this coalition, has all the promise and commitment to economic opportunity, growth, and enrichment for the community, and everyone who visits the Empire State.”

“Times Square has been the heartbeat of American Entertainment for over a century,” said Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars Entertainment. “Through our shared vision, we will build a world-class destination specifically designed to complement and elevate today’s Times Square experience, ensuring it remains a magnet for visitors and a hub of creativity for years to come.”

Not from away in mid-town, another casino option is in the works atop the luxury department store, Saks Fifth Avenue. Hudson’s Bay Company, which owns the Saks brand, said it wants to convert its top three floors into a Monte- Carlo-style gambling house.

The project, starting on the ninth floor of the high-end retailer, will cover about 200,000 square feet. Developer Hudson’s Bay, which owns Saks, plans to devote a new lobby with a separate red-carpet-lined entrance for the casino.

“It will be comparable to the aesthetics and luxury detailing of the Saks Fifth Avenue store,” said Trenesa Danuser, a spokeswoman for Hudson’s Bay, and its Related Companies developer.

Overall attendance and box office grosses on Broadway, while spectacular during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, still have not grown to pre-pandemic levels, and there is considerable anxiety – not necessarily hatred, but concerns  — against the Caesars vision  about how changes will impact  commuting patterns, entertainment consumption and the global economy and how this new blood might affect its long-term health.

The Saks proposal is relatively modest — and this might be a blessing. The redesign of Saks would not involve the demolition of the retailer’s building, and the project could be completed within a year, after permits and licensing are completed.

In Queens, Steve Cohen is considering a casino bid on roughly 50 acres of publicly owned land next to Citi Field, while Thor Equities is eyeing   a Coney Island project in Brooklyn. And the Las Vegas Sands has announced plans to seek a casino license on the nearly 80-acre site of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island. …

Imelda revival has isle ties – again

“Here Lies Love,” an award-winning “disco pop” off-Broadway musical about the life and times of Imelda Marcos, is heading to Broadway this summer.

Ruthie Ann Miles

The original piece, with a score by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, starred Ruthie Ann Miles, who portrayed the first lady of the Philippines, in an off-Broadway production at the Public Theatre. She later went on to win a Tony for portraying Lady Thiang, in Lincoln Center’s exquisite revival of “The King and I.”

“Love” again will have island ties, this time with a backstager from Hawaii. Celia Kaleialoha Kenney, daughter of restaurateur Ed Kenney Jr., is one of four Filipino co-producers of the Broadway-bound musical. The other three are Miranda Gohh, Rob Laqui and Giselle “G” Tongi.

A cast has not yet been announced, and the intention is to secure Filipino actors.

Celia Kaleialoha Kenney

The original creative team will return, including Tony-winning director Alex Timbers, choreographer Annie-B Parson and Clint Ramos, a Tony winner who has served as designer and a creative director as well as a producer.

A Filipino creative team is involved this time, with music director J. Oconer Navarro, costume designer Clint Ramos, casting director Gail Quintos , assistant director Billy Bustamante, assistant stage manager Sheryl Polancos and aforementioned producer Töngi also serving as cultural and community liaison.

Previews begin June 12, with the opening set for July 20 at the Broadway Theatre, the only one of five  New York theaters actually on Broadway. …

Broadway grosses, week ending Jan. 8

A few surprises made the Top 7 in the weekly listing of Broadway show grosses.

The outlook:

1 –“The Music Man,” with $3.146 million.

2–“The Phantom of the Opera,” with $1.285 million.

3 — “Beetlejuice,” with $2.146 million.

4– “Hamilton,” with $2.120 million.

5 — “Funny Girl,” with $2.062 million.

6 — “The Lion King,” with $1.996 million.

7 — “Wicked,” with $1.962 million.=

The full list, courtesy The Broadway Group:

And that’s Show Biz. …