It began with the posting the flags, by the 100th/442nd Infantry Regiment Honor Guard, followed by the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Initially, the sell-out audience stood, but the voices were scanty, building up as more joined  the chorus of folks proudly singing and demonstrating their patriotism.

This was at the Hawaii Theatre last night (March 18), at a “Defining Courage” screening that saluted and glorified the Nisei soldiers – largely from Hawaii – during World War II.

For those who missed it, a second screening will be held in April. So secure tickets, pronto, to avoid disappointment. On many levels, “Courage” is a winner.

The immersive program was a unique first — part documentary, part lecture with visuals, part history lesson, part musical concert,  part salute to unsung heroes.

And wholly emotional, engaging and enlightening.

With Emmy-winning Los Angeles co-producers David Ono (who served as narrator) and Jeff MacIntyre (who handled behind-the-scenes needs as show director), “Defining Courage” was a celebration of the legacy of American wartime heroes, in vintage footage with more recently site visitations that demonstrated the valor and diligence of AJAs (Americans and Japanese Ancestry), in battles in France, Germany, Italy, Okinawa and Hawaii, who were instrumental in turning the pages of history to win the war.

It’s still a work in progress, and each performance in different cities,  will vary. Actress Tamiyn Tomita, who introduced the film, was right on target when she ID’d the screening here as “Defining Courage, Aloha Edition.” Aloha was plentiful on screen, and in the theater.
Among the hundreds of spectators were families and relatives, whose grandfathers and fathers, served in the Army in the era depicted. The movie was a time for joy and tears, and loads of hurrahs and aloha.

Without a cheat sheet, to properly ID the luminaries on screen, I regrettably won’t chance it in fear of misspelling the names of GIs and battles depicted.

So, some random observations instead:

  • The indominable spirit of the Nisei soldiers light up the screen; the scenes of their desire to serve and carry on the torch to victory, are emotional and incredible.
  • A few soldiers kept journals, with sketches, that inspired and shaped the documentary; there are shared notebooks with hand-written, first-hand memories that should be shared with future generations.
  • A small band of musicians, led by pianist-conductor Chris Wade (with Ericka Bar-David on violin, Kamuela Kahoano on guitar and ukulele, and Sibora Miloradovic on cello) performed periodically during the film, with alternating vocals by choir members (Jody Bill, Michael Covert, Andy Degan, Barrie Kealoha, Lauren Hanako Kincaide, Landon Lee and Emi Sampson) singing solo and/or as an ensemble. The newly minted numbers provided a new dimension to the visuals, with touching lyrics performed by powerful voices, but titles and composers were not properly identified in a hand-out program flyer.
  • One of the on-screen heroes known throughout the world: the late Daniel K. Inouye, who served in the war, where he lost an arm, and as a civilian he served as Hawaii’s senior Congressman for decades.
  • Two current icons – volunteers Jane Kurahara and Betsy Young, from the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii — are depicted in a brief segment regarding the efforts to establish and restore Honouliuli as a national park and historical site, for its wartime internment camp in the Ewa plains.
  • Journalist Ono several times mentioned that the history books should be rewritten to include precious details and stories that recognize the valor and service of 100th 442nd soldiers who gave their lives. It might be prudent, too, to remember the 442nd battle cry, “Go for Broke,” which was not remembered or uttered in the program. And the 100th already has a nickname, 1-puka-puka, for its zeroes. Perhaps the 442nd “Broke” slogan could be properly recognized in the second presentation at 7 p.m. April 23, again at the Hawaii Theatre. Tickets: $25 to $50, on sale at www.hawaiitheatre.com or  text (808) 528-0506. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Good things come in threes, so the saying goes, and in Manoa Valley Theatre’s Hawaii premiere of “Tick, Tick…BOOM!,” the little off-Broadway musical with genuine appeal, threes matter. A lot.

First: the title is comprised of three words.

Second: there are three in the cast.  Jon (short for Jonathan Larson) is portrayed by Taj Gutierrez;  Michael, Jon’s buddy and roommate, is enacted by Kimo Kaona; and Susan, Jon’s girlfriend, is played by Emily North. I saw these three last Saturday (March 11), but the three roles are double-cast with three  other actors (Moku Durant, Ian Severino and Bianca Tubolino, in selected performances, (March 17 and 19, plus all Saturday matinees).

Third: the performers hop to and from three staging zones — stage left, stage right, and right in the middle. The central floor displays three rugs, for no particular reason. But  see, good things come in threes.

Jon is struggling to complete his first show, by the time he’s 30. And the clock is ticking. The angst is mounting. The frustration is elevating stress.

Kimo Kaona as Michael, Taj Guitierrez as Jon, and Emily North as Susan, in “Tick, Tick…BOOM!”

Gutierrez is a revelation, with charismatic presence, a bold and sustaining voice, and an appealing conversational stance – especially in monologues, like he’s taking straight to you. But Guitierrez’ agility also is astounding, as he prances and dances from one staging area to another, never breathless, always in character. Catch him if you can; he makes you a believer that he is a thespian with ambition and hope.

Michael is threatening to move out to a better space, and does, and he has a BMW that reflects his success and lifestyle. He’s got a more sensible analysis of life, so exits the zone of the beleaguered stage wannabe and makes the leap into the business world. Kaona, however, is the kind of a dependable HIV buddy who is loyal to the core, and can still provide a shoulder for his script-writing pal, and puts his dreams of a normal life with wife and family on the back burner.

Meanwhile, Susan wants Jon to move in with her, to eliminate the commute (two subways and a bus trek) and she  yearns to get married , relocated to Cape Cod, and stands by her convictions and challenges Jon to make firm decisions.

Set in 1990 in New York, “Tick, Tick…BOOM! Is personal, precise, minimalist and autobiographical, a portrait of a cliched Broadway wannabe, with that dire goal to finish a show by his 30th birthday. The dream  puts more pressure on himself that undermines his day-to-day doings. Jon waits tables  at a diner; his role model of efficiency and success is Stephen Sondheim, the prolific and legendary songwriter, whose name Jon only “mouths,” not utters, and SS commits to come to the workshop if and when Jon completes his play.

Jon is abundantly disappointed, when workshop attendees don’t include a producer or two who might take a chance on staging the show, but at Jon’s birthday party thrown by Susan, he gets a phone call and message from Sondheim that he doesn’t respond to. Part of Sondheim’s wisdom: Jon’s finished his first play, but he should immediately engage in his second. Argh!

Elyse Takashige’s set design strips the shoebox theater into a one-scene “open” space, with no second-level acting space, with four musicians, including pianist-musical director Jenny Shiroma, who are literally part of the action, like a studio unit  with the three principal “band” instruments of bass, guitar and drums. There are stand-up mikes that augment the body mikes of the performers, resembling a recording studio.

Director-choreographer Mathais Maas is tasked with more direction than dancing, maintaining a balance of staging his principals in the trio of  work spaces.

An off-Broadway production featured Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jon, who had his own dreams and bouts with creativity without the binding deadlines. Miranda directed last year’s film version of “Tick, Tick…BOOM!” starring Andrew Garfield as Jon, in an expanded screenplay and a delicious roster of real-life Broadway luminaries in splendid cameos.

In this stage telling, as in the film, Jon’s debt to Sondheim is reflected in the song, “Sunday,”  which is a tribute Sondheim’s trademark “Sunday in the Park With George.”  It is one of two stellar contributions in the score; the other is the profound “Larger Than Words,” delivered by all three actors as a “company” number that brings down the final curtain.

A footnote: Jon did complete a second production, “Rent,” which would become his signaaure show. On the eve of its debut, he died from an aortic aneurysm,  so ironically, he never got to live or enjoy the riches of hurrahs and successes (like the Tony Awards) that tick-tick-boomed in his soul.

In the end, Jonathan Larson’s plays numbered three – “Siberbia,” “Tick, Tick … BOOM!” and “Rent.”

See, threes matter. ..

And that’s Show Biz. …


“Tick, Tick…BOOM!”

A pop-rock musical by Jonathan Larson

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through

Where: Manoa Valley Theatre

Tickets: $24 to $44, fees included; discounts available for seniors and youths, at https://www.manoavalleytheatre.com/shows-tickets


Expectations were high, when  “Magnum P.I.” aired in a new time slot on a new network this past Sunday (Feb. 19), but audience response was disappointing.

“Magnum” moved to NBC  on Sundays, with a double-dose two-episode launch. The Peacock network rescued the island-based show which ran for four seasons on CBS … then abruptly cancelled the show.

Simply stated, the highly-anticipated “Magnum” debut on NBC  drew lower-than-expected ratings.

 The first of two episodes drew 3.8 million viewers and a 0.3 rating in the demo.

 The second logged 3.2 million viewers and a 0.3 rating.

The slightly good news? The second episode won the 9 p.m. hour. So numbers matter.

You remember, Thomas Magnum (Jay Hernandez) and Juliet Higgins (Perdita Weeks) were smooching like young lovers, at the finale of season four last year.

Magnum and Higgins still are very much together during season five, sharing an intimate shower, hugging, and engaged in lovey-dovey banter while cruising on Magnum’s signature red Ferrari or settled in their Windward Oahu estate.

But mum’s the word, so far, so the chat’s not out of the bag yet. Their relationship is still hush-hush.

Hernandez remains one of the show’s producers, so he’s likely in the driver’s seat to help steer the storytelling. How and when he and Higgins will come clean will be an ongoing sideshow.

Perdita Weeks (Higgins) and Jay Hernandez (Magnum) go under cover in season five of “Magnum P.I.”

For now, they’re clearly an “item,” and it’s a big secret.

The question now is, they’re harboring an awkward shibai (Japanese for “lies” or, bull)  and they’re afraid or confused about how and when they tell their colleagues that they’re in a relationship.

After all, both are investigators and professional and devoted to their jobs. A romantic alliance is not an easy task, no different from any office affair. Lips are sealed. Period. But gossip will emerge.

Alone, they share affection but are treading slowly and it makes sense that the episode when the revelation is made will highlight the fifth season.

Meanwhile, there’s a new sweetness in their unexpected relationship. Magnum and Higgins have a new normal with extreme pressure to only display their feelings privately. When they’re a coosome twosome.

There was a warm aw-shucks moment when he surprised her with dinner in the wine cellar.

They demonstrate their commitment to their jobs,  and  they go undercover to play lifesavers to  help solve a mystery of a drowning death.

There are potential conflicts, challenges and changes to complicate their new roles as partners in life and in work

Immediately, Rick (Zachary Knighton) moves into the guest house, without earlier informing Higgins, and he’s a potential third wheel distraction  (four, if Rick’s new infant daughter is included).

Higgins is often the thinker and the smart one in the equation, confessing there would be issues if Rick is on the premises.

So there’s a period of adjustment in the immediate future.

Further, there are other red flags:

Michael Rady
  • The uncertainty of the fare of Timothy  Det. Gordon Katsumoto (Tim Kang), a police honcho in the four seasons. He has a successor, however temporary, in season five, so yep, he’ll soon do his soul-searching to decide his fate.
    • The presence and purpose of Katsumoto’s replacement, Det. Chris Childs (Michael Rady), is somewhat shady with valid concerns: Is he a loyal peer or potential  foe of Magnum and Higgins?
  • The return of Jin Jeong (Bobby Lee), a comedic character now involved in offering $5,000 to purchase the innards of a storage slot, is a convenient diversion from the romance.
Bobby Lee

So: how will Rick (Zachary Knighton), Theodore TC Calvin (Stephen Hill) and “Kumu” Tuileta (Amy Hill) discover the under-wraps romance between Magnum and Higgins?

My bet’s on Kumu, who seems to know a lot of things a lot of times. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Even a one-day (overnight) stay at a Waikiki hotel is a wondrous way for a staycation.

Here’s the background: I covered two back-to-back shows Sunday (Dec. 11) at Blue Note Hawaii, located at the Outrigger Waikiki resort.

The first show  (Frank DeLima) was at 12:30 p.m., a brunch event, followed by two later shows at 4 and 8 p.m. (Makena, aka as Ho’okena and members of The Makaha Sons), a Christmas and Hawaiian show. Took in the later performance.

Made no sense to drive in (during the Honolulu Marathon on Kalaniana‘ole Hwy.) only to return home in Hawaii Kai, and commute back a few hours later.

So I took the risk and checked out kamaaina rates, but they were $325 a room. Imagine what regular rates might be!

Contemplated the kamaaina rate. It was easiest to book a room where the shows were, but at those prices? An expensive risk, perhaps.

Waited a bit, then rechecked several days later via phone what rates were and the price had gone down, I guess, to $225, with no resort fee and half-price for overnight parking ($45 regular price).  So I decided to book ‘em, a holiday gift to myself and my wife.

At check-in, we were enticed into signing up for an upgrade ($89 more) for a room on a higher level with access to the hotel lounge, where breakfast and happy hour/dinner meals were included. Hmmmm. Decided to go up in price and room level, figuring we’d just eat at the hotel, utilizing the included dinner at night and breakfast the next day before checking out. After all, meals for two in Waikiki at a restaurant would cost more than $89. And our wrists became a gameplayer (why and how, more later).

The room was spacious, on the 16th level (17th is the penthouse), not super-duper elegant but comfy, clean, and convenient, with wi-fi, upgraded soap and shampoo amenities and an exclusive lobby-to-room access located near the Blue Note club.

A happy hour trek to the lounge, located on the former Chuck’s Steak House site on the lobby level, provides an efficient but no-choice meal, with the largest taro chips plus traditional corn ships with a slightly zesty aku dip, a couple of fruit options, and fried noodles with chicken and pork protein. Enough to satisfy the hungry, but lacking lounge-level fare choices and perks I’ve experienced at Mainland brand-name hotels at much higher tariffs.

Henry Kapono, ‘neath the tarp in black shirt, on the beach at Waikiki

A Sunday visit meant that Henry Kapono was doing his beachfront jam sessions near Duke’s, his signature show for decades. From a stone’s throw away, I peeked and listened from the lounge, noticing that swimwear folks were truly enjoying the moment.

Breakfast was satisfactory but also pedestrian – buffet eggs, bacon, bread and bagels for do-you-own toasting, tiny strawberry yogurt, fruits like honeydew melon and sweet pineapple.

Turned out to be a working staycation, since I was at my computer following the DeLima show to write and post a review, while my wife ventured out to reacquaint herself with some of the Waikiki spots we used to but haven’t visited since before the pandemic. Also got up early Sunday morning to do a Makena review, which I completed later from home.

Wrist band is room key for lounge guests a Outrigger Waikiki.

The most convenient discovery of the staycation was that the Outrigger, and likely other chic hotels elsewhere,  provides lounge guests with a new kind of wristband that includes your digital key (no more plastic cards to slide or wipe) to access the elevators and enter your hotel room.

Convenient for beachgoers and swimmers and no more misplaced or lost plastic card key.

That was the most eye-opening element of the staycation. And no complaints for the upgrade fee – worth it!

And that’s Show Biz. …


The more you watch “Hamilton,” the more you discover and savor; the more you observe, the more you reflect on how impactful the Lin-Manuel Miranda mega-hit is with parallels in modern-day history.

Happily, the touring company dubbed “And Peggy,” now ensconced at the Blaisdell Concert Hall for a historic eight-week run,  is the longest any show has cast its anchor here. It opened Wednesday night (Dec. 7) and runs through Jan. 29, 2023, with a well-honed cast carrying on the ebullient tradition of the musical still running in New York.

The Dec. 8 show was my fourth visit to “Hamilton,” and I’m still on a high. And I’m attending the show again, tonight (Dec. 10).

DeAundre Woods

 The hip-hop/rap score, with occasional R&B tunes, still is vibrant with diverse blind casting that initially might throw you a curve. Many African Americans are in the company, including DeAundre Woods as Alexander Hamilton  (commanding and conniving, propelling the story of America’s founding father ), and George Washington (Darnell Abraham, splendid and convincing) and Aaron Burr (Donald Webber Jr., dominating as Hamilton’s clever and conniving frenemy), and they all quickly define their characters with drum-beat perfection. The rap genre boasts lines and words and these dudes have mastered the delivery of smooth lyrics, in synch with the tempos of hip-hop.

The delivery is smooth and audibility is clear, without being overbearing. The facility’s sound often has been a source of irritation –often difficult to hear a singer or appreciate the musicianship — but there’s no quibbling here.

The “Hamilton” set has been tweaked with new hues .

First thing I noticed: the new-look set by David Korins (two levels, with a stylish “unfinished” fringe above the catwalk platform) augmented with lighting tweaks by designer Howell Binkley (his pallet includes orange and light blue-grey hues, with eye-catching tones that change periodically enhancing the performing space). Paul Tazwell’s costumes (properly light and bright, from formal soldier wear to elegant gowns) add to the spectacle.

(These technical team members are the show’s original artisans, so there’s powerful energy and imagination, for the road shows).

And yep, Hamilton’s “just you wait, just you wait” pitch in the opening number, is an indication he’s a do-er and he does. A political fighter and leader, who’s not afraid of verbal spats; a romantic, who has indiscretions; fearless and perhaps reckless; the secretary of treasury who takes a bullet. These are echoes of modern politicos.  

Eliza Hamilton (Morgan Anita Wood, elegant and faithful) marries Hamilton and outlives him by 50 years is the portrait of The Victim) and her sister Peggy Schuyler (Rebecca Covington, the commanding adulteress who becomes The Other Woman in Hamilton’s life) are equals in precision and perfection. Angelica Schuyler (Maria Harmon, superb, is the third Schuyler sister and intellectual equal of Hamilton).

Two other characters will wow the audience: King George (Rick Negron, comedic and captivating, via his hilarious “You’ll Be Back” anthem) and Marquis de Lafayette (Paris Nix, outrageous as Hamilton’s comrade, doubling as Thomas Jefferson).

Those fearing and uneasy of rap shouldn’t worry; the form is part of prolific Miranda’s language has been an avenue of  success, not changing, but augmenting Broadway ever-changing landscape and map; it’s not the gansta rap where hip-hip is commonly adults-only vocabulary.

Further, the revolving stage is intact and in motion, a design factor popularized by the “Les Miserables” model, and it works well in “Hamilton,” rotating performers with choreographic swirls.

The whole shebang is choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, orchestrated by Alex Lacamoire,  and directed by Thomas Kail, all from the original award-winning Broadway team.

And that’s Show Biz. …