With Halloween about a month away, I’ve been doing new lapel pins for the 2023 bewitching season.
Production started earlier this month, in-between at-home PT sessions, as I continue a rehab process after spending two weeks in the hospital in August. That said, the numbers may be fewer this year though the effort is in earnest.
A handful of pins are one-of-a-kind. The usual images of pumpkins, black cats, ghouls, witches and more returning.
Still in the midst of finishing a few more batches…but everything is “boo-tiful.”
Manoa Valley Theatre’s revival of “Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” is stunning and seductive with a syncopation of elements that give it its specific pulse.
This becomes obvious, in the early moments of the production, when musical director Joe Pacheco’s nine-piece orchestra starts the rhythmic tones from an angular huddle on stage left, quickly joined by the splendid ensemble appearing in synch and unity of movements of James Wright’s expressive choreography on “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd,” a charismatic and expressive intro to theatrics to come.
Director Stephanie Conching has the skills of a maestro, moving her actors like notes in an aria, yielding visual soloists and ensemble choruses that clearly lighten and brighten this dark, sinister work by Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and Hugh Wheeler (book), from an adaptation by Christopher Bond.
I’ve seen perhaps six or seven “Sweeney” productions over the decades, and each has its own personality and pizzazz.
I recall the original, directed by Harold Prince, with Len Cariou as Todd and Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett, in a mammoth staging with even a catwalk, and the less-is-more version when Patti LuPone sang and played the tuba. And yes, I took in the latest Broadway revival in July directed by Thomas Kail, with Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford (with voices from heaven).
But worry not this one is as good as it gets. This cast is remarkable, rich in depth and definition, creating vivid characterizations.
Sally Swanson is Mrs. Lovett, Kyle Malis is Sweeney Todd.
Kyle Malis, with shiny bald pate, is a Todd with a huge baritone voice and is cut-throat spooky with a blade. Not to worry; no blood splashes since the red stuff are fabric which flows whenever there’s a victim in the barber’s chair.
Sally Swanson, as Mrs. Lovett, has a huge personality and projects power and assurance. But her bakery to peddle her meat pies made from victims of Todd’s barber shop upstairs, is mostly a tray and table with a meat grinder downstairs. She is a co-conspirator in the crimes.
Kenna Shafter is Johanna, Miguel Cadoy III is Anthony.
Miguel Cadoy III, as Anthony, the suitor infatuated with Johanna, possesses the show’s most romantic voice, singing “Johanna,” one of the repeating tunes in the score; Johanna, played by Kenna Shafter, is the daughter of Todd, has a sweet demeanor demonstrated on “Kiss Me,” a duet with Cadoy, as they plan to run away together.
Kimo Kaona, as Judge Turpin, is corrupt as they come – manipulating and menacing as a dishonest father, lording over Johanna as his prisoner.
Buffy Kahalepuna-Wong, left, as the mysterious Beggar Woman, has threatening entrances and exits, so she brings bold presence to the crowd, an oracle not to be dismissed. And she possesses a secret identity.
Rocco Bechirian, as Tobias, renders an unexpected beaut of a tune, “Not While I’m Around” with Swanson.
Mira Fey’s set design is a two-level wonderment, with three staircases (the ork’s nestled ‘neath one) and barely enough space for Todd’s new barber chair, with the seat dropping corpses to the first floor. At MVT, real estate is limited, and Fey manages to compact doorways and corridors with efficiency, allowing a spacious central dance floor, if you will, for the large ensemble.
Costume designer Amber Lehua Baker showcases vintage styles to suit a range of body types, and Lisa Ponce de Leon’s hair and makeup live up to her usual magic. Willie Sabel’s scenic contributions are eye appealing.
MVT Goes Ticket-less
Starting this season, with “Sweeney Todd, the Demon
Barber of Fleet Street,” there’s no longer a physical ticket
anymore. If you have reservations, just provide your name
and ID like a driver’s license. and attendants will verify
your seat numbers.
Janine Myers’ lighting design and Hanale Ka‘anapu’s sound design are fitting for the needs, with two levels of consideration.
“Sweeney” is a box office hit, but here’s a tip: three more performances have just been added Oct. 6, 7 and 8. …
And that’s Show Biz. …
“Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street”
A musical by Stephen Sondheim, with book by Hugh Wheeler, from an adaptation by Christopher Bond
Where: Manoa Valley Theatre
When: Remaining shows, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 and 29, 3 and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23 and 30, and 3 p.m. Sept. 24; extension shows at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6 and 7, and 3 p.m. Oct. 8.
Tickets: $25 to $45, available at www.manoavalleytheatre.com or (808) 988-6131.
Just when you thought that “NCIS: Hawai‘i’” was the last in the tireless franchise on CBS, along comes “NCIS: Sydney,” debuting Nov. 10 in Aussieland and Nov. 13 in the U.S. both on CBS and on Paramount+, the network’s streaming channel.
The Sydney project’s first season will be comprised of eight episodes
Did we really need another spinoff, while the flagship original (21 seasons and counting) and the last newbie, “NCIS: Hawai‘i” (this would be its third season) are sidelined and off-air because of the devastating Hollywood writers-actors strike?
Seems the labor issues in America don’t affect the first international spinoff of “NCIS,” with Down Under actors and producers involved in the venture, taking advantage of one of the most popular trademark shows in the galaxy of procedurals.
Mavournee Hazel, William McInnes, Tuuli Narkle, Todd Lasance, Olivia Swann, and Sean Sagar on the set of ‘NCIS: Sydney.’
According to online resources, the Sydney “NCIS” cast will star Olivia Swann (DC’s “Legends of Tomorrow”) as NCIS Special Agent Michelle Mackey; Todd Lasance (“Spartacus: War of the Damned” ) as her 2IC AFP counterpart, Sergeant Jim “JD” Dempsey; Sean Sagar (“The Covenant”) as NCIS Special Agent DeShawn Jackson; and Tuuli Narkle (“Mystery Road: Origin”) as AFP liaison officer.
“‘NCIS’” is one of the most popular series in the world and we’re thrilled to expand this franchise with a uniquely Australian twist,” said Amy Reisenbach, president of CBS Entertainment, in a statement to Entertainment Weekly.
“With the addition of “‘NCIS: Sydney,’” our studio and network footprint continues to grow in this fascinating world that has been a proven winner with viewers on both linear and streaming platforms. Featuring the stunning backdrop of Australia, the new series will incorporate the high-stakes intrigue, humor and camaraderie that have kept fans captivated by the NCIS teams for over two decades.”
Crime has no borders, so the franchise is going global, launching the fifth “NCIS” team and the first with international roots. The catalogue includes “NCIS,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “NCIS: New Orleans” and “NCIS: Hawai‘i” and only the flagship show starring the original Special Agent Mark Harmon (not very visisble in the recent episodes) and the newest, starring Vanessa Lachey (the first woman Special Agent, anchored in Honolulu), still airing in the U.S., though disrupted by the Hollywood strike. …
Broadway grosses, week ending Sept. 10
Let the lion roar again.
“The Lion King” again rules over Broadway, topping the Great White Way’s Top 10 list.
Here are the leaders:
“The Lion King,” $1.850 million.
“Hamilton,” $1.746 million.
“Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” $1.593 million.”
“MJ. the Musical,” $1.515 million.
“Wicked,” $1.487 million.
“Aladdin.” $1.219 million.
“Moulin Rouge,” $1.204 million.
“Back to the Future: The Musical,” $1.079 million.
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” $1.056 million.
“A Beautiful Noise: the Neil Diamond Musical,” $1.008 million.
Yemun Chung, a talent manager and entrepreneur extraordinaire, died Monday (Sept. 11) in a Las Vegas hospital. He was 78.
A San Francisco-born talent manager and recording and show producer, Chung was a self-styled promoter who became best known locally as the manager of The Fabulous Krush (later, The Krush), who won Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in 1981 and in 1985.
Chung, celebrating his 78th birthday — his last — with a cake.
Chung died of an apparent heart attack, after complaining of chest pains, at the VA Hospital Emergency Room, according to his wife, Gloria.
Yemun was 78, celebrating in June with a birthday cake. “Days prior to the heart attack, he was in great spirits, looking forward to seeing Carrie Underwood at the end of this month,” said Gloria.
“Yemun’s kidneys were functioning at 6 per cent last January 2022 and that’s when he started dialysis knowing that if he did not, his time would be limited,” she said. “He was grateful every day that he was able to live more than a year and a half on borrowed time. He was very positive and knew the Lord could take him anytime and was ready.”
Chung had been having shortness of breath issues and was scheduled to visit a doctor Sept. 22 for a cardiac catheterization and to check for blockages in his heart, said Gloria.”Sadly we never had the chance to perhaps save him.,” she said.
Chung and his wife were former Honolulans who migrated to Las Vegas 13 ½ years ago, to help raise her grandchildren.
Thus, he had to abandon a legacy of celebrity management, recording production, and show production, in an era when managers often had p.r. appeal.
Chung was a reporter and producer in the 1970s at KGO Radio in San Francisco, but ventured to make his mark in Hawaii, rubbing shoulders and elbows with some of Hawaii’s celebrity managers and recording icons beginning in the 1980s and eventually evolved into one of the most active talent-touting managers himself through the early 2000s.
He held numerous jobs in the emerging entertainment frontier in Waikiki, serving as director of marketing and promotion for the Jim Nabors show at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Dome and, befriended Kimo McVay, whosd prime celebrity client then, included Don Ho who was the main attraction at the Duke Kahanamoku’s nightclub, at the International Market Place.
But it was his managerment of The Krush act, who performed in the 1980s at the Garden Bar of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, that got him noticed. Chung produced the group’s albums that notably won Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in 1981 and in 1985.
The Fabulous Krush copped the Most Promising Artist trophy in 1981 and its “Fabulous Krush” debut was Album of the Year. In ’85, The Krush won the Hoku Contemporary Album prize for its “More and More” disc.
The wins heightened the act’s visibility and popularity, and The Krush became one of the rotating headliners, sharing time slots with the Society of Seven and The Ali‘is, at the Main Showroom of the Outrigger Waikiki resort.
With hits such as “Waialua Sky,” The Krush became nightclub favorites as well as hitmakers on the Hawaii charts, and Chung was the mover-and-shaker behind the raves.
Tom Moffatt, left, one of Chung’s mentors.
In the 1990s, Chung joined the talent team that included George Chun at Tom Moffatt’s Paradise Records and he consequently worked with a host of local performers. Among the other entrepreneurs Chung collaborated with was Jack Cione, who staged a couple of Waikiki nightclub attractions, and co-promoted a music club in Aiea as well.
Gloria and Yemun Chung, in white garb, with the Local Divas, from left, Nohelani Cypriano, Carole Kai, Melveen Leed and Loyal Garner.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he worked on promotion for the Local Divas, the femme foursome comprising Carole Kai, Melveen Leed, Loyal Garner and Nohelani Cypriano, popular on the concert stage.
Clearly, Chung was a major player in the Waikiki mainstream, where he made his mark rendering managing chores, music-producing skills, and — something he loved — doing hands-on publicity, whether it was writing p.r. releases or posting concert posters around town.
Chung and his wife were residing in Northwest Las Vegas; survivors also include stepchildren Yvette Brink, Beau Brinik, Darrell Kadooka (spouse Jair) and grandchildren Krissy, Ashlee and Atticus. Services are pending.