Robert Cazimero’s new CD, entitled “Mine,” clearly is a labor of love. It’s his first solo disc in years, the first in collaboration with the prolific singer-musician Kuana Torres Kahele and Marcus Turner (Kahele’s partner in life and in music).

The CD arrives in the midst of the holiday season, so looms as a perfect stocking stuffer gift that will keep on giving throughout the years to come.

Simply, “Mine” is  alive with a trove of original tunes composed by Cazimero, rich in memories and reflection, about moods, places, and themes Hawaiian.

With Cazimero’s piano accompaniment augmented by Kahele’s upright bass and guitar presence of Imua Garza, the disc assembles a warm vision and tone suited to the singer’s identifying vocal dynamics in mostly cozy stance..

Cazimero’s “Mine” CD.

There’s a lot to embrace and the new compositions provide a cluster of potential hula melodies awaiting movements and interpretation by hula dancers.

A batch of “place” atmospheric songs is quickly contagious:

* “Nu‘uanu Poina ‘Ole” is an homage to the cool area of refreshing rain and fragrant scents of blossoms, amid astonishing cliffs and history of Kaniakapupu, a house of royalty.

* “’Anini Mine” reflects with poetic Hawaiian lyrics a memory of a dancer in gentle rain.

* “Manoaakalani” relates to a glorious and hospitable home where clouds and breezes are plentiful, rain falls freely, all protected by the arch of rainbow.

* “Ka Pali Hotel (Kama‘aina)” paints a picture of the waterfalls of Waikahalulu, the comforts of a Pali Hotel and its verdant gardens.

The reflections of bygone memories appear to flow gently and easily if you’ve lived a rich life influenced by the joys of nature fueled by your imagination and savvy to articulate these flashbacks in new mele.

Cazimero, of course, has been a prolific and productive trouper in the show biz scene here, headlining  in Waikiki showrooms in his prime with his late brother, Roland, and in recent times, providing intimate songfests  in smaller performance spaces.

 He opens a five-night engagement tonight (Dec. 15) at Chef Chai’s on Kapiolani Boulevard and likely will perform a tune or two from “Mine,” mixed with repertoire faves and perhaps a sprinkle of holiday tunes. Christmas is a joyous time to reflect, and it’s his favorite season. …

Blue Christmas

Frank DeLima

With Christmas a-coming and some folks eager to party hearty (with facemasks and vaccination proof, of course), Blue Note Hawaii at the Outrigger Waikiki has a slate of local acts in the days ahead:

  • Frank DeLima, at 7 p.m. today (Dec. 15). This will be the only time and place to witness his inimitable Filipino Christmas parody clad in a Christmas tree costume that lights up.
  • Paula Fuga, at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Dec. 17-18).
  • Jake Shimabukuro, at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday (Decl 19-21).
  • “A Charlie Brown Christmas” with Mike Lewis and Friends, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday (Dec. 22).

For reservations, visit

And that’s Show Biz. …


Same story, new version.

Same issues, new vision.

Same gun, new vibes.

Steven Spielberg’s first musical, “West Side Story,” is a bold, brave and beguiling film, for a new generation of viewers, most of whom have not seen the glorious and gutsy landmark version directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. The original earned 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, in 1961.

A tough act to follow for director Spielberg, who has wanted to do a musical to complete his filmography.

This is it.  And it becomes a dandy companion – then and now – to the legacy that is “West Side Story.”

Spielberg’s version has the vitality like the  Wise-Robbins one. And clearly, if you favored the first one, the latest might be second fiddle.

Not so.

Confrontations are plentiful in Spielberg’s “West Side Story.”

Spielberg embraces shadows galore in mounting this monument. From the dark tones of the opening sequence through the end credits, shadows become part of the mobility of the storytelling. One of the best incidence of shadow supremacy is the scene where the Jets and the Sharks prepare to rumble and challenge each other, and you see slowly moving elongated shadows of the duelers marching forward to each other. It’s a haunting form of choreography.

With a script by Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”), Spielberg manages to make everything and everyone sing and dance, and the words and movements reinforce and reflect on the original source of this creation.Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet tragedy ratchets up to contemporary sensitivities for a powerful exclamation point in filmmaking. Riveting!

Ansel Elgort as Tony, Rachel Zegler as Maria.

Tony (Ansel Elgort, a tall dude with a decent voice, with a younger Tom Cruise demeanor), is a former Jet gang leader now anti-feuding after a stay in prison for nearly killing a rival gang member. He falls for Maria (Rachel Zegler, a charming lark of a find, in her film debut) in the shadows of gym seating and tenement stairs.

It’s all part of the recipe, to coo and sing the romantic “Tonight” together and with overlapping gang foretelling violence, right down to the “Somewhere” death scene inspiring unity.

Rita Moreno as Valentina: an Oscar contender?

Filmdom’s original Oscar-winning Anita (Rita Moreno, still a scene-stealer) could be a contender again, for her custom-made new supporting role of Valentina, Doc’s widow. She’s seasoned and glowing; even sings “Somewhere” before the climactic version later. Her presence likely will overshadow the new Anita (Ariana DeBose, who can’t be discounted at awards time), despite a vibrant “America” performance.

Bernardo (David Alvarez) and Riff (Mike Faist) are the rival gang leaders, and only time will tell if they match up to the popularity of the George Chakiris or Russ Tamblyn.

The good news is that everyone sings (remember when Natalie Wood was merely mouthing the lyrics while Marni Nixon did the dubbing?) and everyone dances; the massive street leaping and twirling resembles the scope and sensation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights,” which might be interpreted as “Upper West Side Story” with its Washington Heights origins. The newbie is set in the current Lincoln Center ‘hood, where the gangs not only battle each other but question the reality of urban development, hence the fight turfs of abandoned buildings and hills of dirt.

For the record, Robbins’ original choreography is credited here, along with inventive and vivid new choreography by Janusz Kaminski.

Leonard Bernstein’s music and the late Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics are intact and rightfully acknowledged. The finger-snapping and toe-tapping might be new, but the melodies are like the Mona Lisa. Classics cannot be improved.

With the sorrowful windup, where Tony’s body is solemnly removed from the street, hope looms. The Jets and Sharks unite in grief, though issues still resonate,

Verdict: Racism. Violence. Gun control. Still a question mark. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


In her final live performance of 2021, singer Shari Lynn continues to be a consummate songbird others can learn from.

She illuminates any tune she sings, investing an actress’ stance in interpretation, storytelling with lyrics that give melodies substance and breadth.

Her passion is luminous, as she brightens and heightens a song with her elocution and expressive delivery.

In her Medici’s at Manoa Marketplace gig last night (Dec. 10), she opted to stage a mixed bag of a show without sacrificing relevance. It’s the holiday season, so yes, there were a few Christmas pauses, with mentions of that Claus named Santa.  But the artist in her didn’t pause or miss the opportunity to put her imprint on exceptional songs with stellar lyrics, from two creators passionate of the tradition of tough, revelatory words to accompany infectious melodies for the brave souls willing to sing ‘em.

Thus, her pair of tributes to the late Stephen Sondheim, the prolific creator of some of Broadway’s brightest and innovative shows who died on Nov. 26, and Dave Frishberg, the underappreciated jazz pianist and composer who passed on Nov. 17.

Shari Lynn: She brightens a song with storytelling skills.

The homages were powerfully honest and pure, reflecting differing styles that challenge the performer and in her hands, their diverse songs reflected an invisible bond.

The Sondheim section included the inevitable, the reflective “Send in the Clown” from “A Little Night Music,” about ill-fated love that perhaps is his most popular title, plus the rousing Mama Rose’s show-stopper, “Some People,” from “Gypsy,” with all the histrionics and body language befitting an artist who has done the show and the tune and continues to celebrate their allure.

The Frishberg  collection included “I Can’t Take You Nowhere,” which might be bad grammar, but with tongue-twisting words, plus “My Attorney Bernie,” a fun piece about an attorney.

The opening song, an instrumental version of “O Christmas Tree” rendered by pianist Jim Howard and bassist Bruce Hamada, was solemn and mood-setting, soon diverting to a jazz version of “Santa Baby,” serious and seductive, unlike the wildly uproarous Jewish/Christmas parody that has become one of Shari’s trademark this time of year. Yep, she’s officially Jewish but practices the vows of Christmas complete with multiple decorated trees at home.

Her interpretation of a Barbra Streisand holiday album track,”The Best Gift,” again demonstrated her savvy in extending lyrics into smart tale-sharing, and yep, there was a skosh of Barb in her delivery.

Her onetime, longtime accompanist, keyboarder Don Conover, took the stage by playing piano on a medley of “Remember/Toyland,” a sweet cameo from the past.

Her parody of “My Favorite Things,” with hilarious and insane lyrics, was clearly and grandly goofy and fun.

An advocate of the Great American Songbook, Shari dusted off a couple of “standards,” like  “The Best Is Yet to Come,” the Peggy Lee-composed “I Love Being Here With You” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” tossing  in a hana hou in “Here’s To Love.”

With pandemic protocols lowering for restaurants and clubs, perhaps Medici’s should eliminate the plastic curtain fronting the stage. The see-through shield is a major distraction now; it’s like watching a show through shower curtains. Face masks, of course, still are necessary to attend. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again…

Never say never…

Quitters never win…

These are the take-away messages of “Tick, Tick … Boom!,”  which marks Lin-Manuel Miranda’s debut as a film director, paying a stunning  homage to the late Jonathan Larson.

The biopic currently is streaming on Netflix.

This is a rare, rousing and resourceful adaptation of an autobiographical musical by Larson that no one ever saw, because the composer just couldn’t find a producer to buy into it. It is highly targeted to the Broadway community, with a number of familiar names and some vague faces that appear in cameos that provide somewhat of a sideshow – a guessing game to name all the Broadway elites that appear in brief sightings.

“Superbia” was Larson’s unknown quest to make the big time in the Broadway of the 1990s, and clearly, he gave his heart and soul into the project, notably struggling to complete a key tune in what he hoped would be the selling point of his show.

The film also is a revelation of how difficult it is to make art; an anguished  Larson feels like a failure because he’s pushing 30 and he can’t reel in the greenlight for someone to produce his work. He muses that Stephen Sondheim, an iconic composer, had his first show produced at age 27. Hence, his clock is tick-ticking away.

Andrew Garfield plays the anguished Jonathon Larson in “Tick, Tick…Boom!”

But like the highwire act in a circus, who falls but eventually redeems himself by hitting the tightwires again, Larson eventually accepted his first failure by making a second impression, creating the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning “Rent,” a hit among the Bohemian crowd of the era. But reality provided added drama in the Larson legacy:  he died on the eve of the premiere of the show, and never was able to enjoy his eventual success and the impact “Rent” made in the annals of Broadway history.

Garfield, a star of film and stage, projects the empathy and embodies the energy of a conflicted Larson and gets into the skin of the composer, providing a powerful voice and a convincing presence on the keyboards. He had never sung publicly till he took on this film. It’s a performance worthy of Oscar consideration.

Alexandra Shipp plays Larson’s girlfriend Susan and becomes part of the tension in a problematic relationship. Other key secondary  characters are Vanessa Hudgens as singer Karessa Johnson workshopping the show and Robin de Jesus as Michael, Larson’s best friend and ex-actor roommate.

With Miranda at the helm, the cast is peopled with high-caliber actors. The man behind two huge Tony-winning Broadway hits, the earlier “In the Heights” and “Hamilton,”  is unashamed to appear in cameos himself in his own films, so it’s no surprise that he has a brief scene — ditto, his real-life father, Luis Miranda Jr.– here.

But look for a galaxy of Broadway greats:

Judith Light portrays Larson’s agent, whose advice is to write about what you know.

Bradley Whitford is Sondheim, looking convincingly like the real deal. While Sondheim does not actually appear in the film himself, it’s his real voice in the scene where Larson listens to the message that his show is a no-go but provides the challenging advice of encouragement to move on and keep working on his craft.

Joel Grey is best known for his Oscar-winning role as the emcee in the film version of the musical, “Cabaret.”

Phylicia Rashad is a Tony winner for “A Raisin in the Sun” but best known for playing Clair Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.”

 — Brian Stokes Mitchell is a Tony winner for “Kiss Me Kate” and other musicals like “Ragtime.”

Andre-DeShields earned a Tony as Hermes in “Hadestown.”

— A cluster of Miranda’s colleagues from “Hamilton,” including Phillipa Soo, who originated the role of Eliza; Renee Elise Goldsberry, who won a Tony for her Angelica role; and Christopher Jackson, who played George Washington in “Hamilton,” and now co-stars in the TV drama, “Bull.”

Bebe Neuwirth is a Tony winner for “Chicago” and “Sweet Charity,” also is remembered for TV’s “Cheers” and for playing Morticia Addams” in Broadway’s “The Addams Family.”

Chita Rivera is a 10-time Tony nominee and three-time Tony winner, known for her portrayal of Anita in “West Side Story” and Velma in “Chicago.”

Bernadette Peters, who originated roles in Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park With George” and “Into the Woods,” is a prolific actress in such hits as “Follies,” “Gypsy,” “A Little Night Music,” “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Hello, Dolly!”

Beth Malone is a Tony nominee for “Fun Home.”

— A trio of original cast members from “Rent,” including Adam Pascal (Roger), Daphne Rubin-Vegas (Mimi) and Wilson Jermaine Heredia (Angel) are recognizable.

Stephen Schwartz is the prolific composer and lyricist of a string of Broadway hits, including “Wicked,” “Pippin” and “Godspell.”

“Sunday,” the pivotal tune inspired by the Sondheim hit “Sunday in the Park With George,” is one of the key scenes in the film, set in the Moondance Diner enabling most of the aforementioned Broadway luminaries to assemble and reflect in Steven Levenson’s script to party hearty as Larson’s clock is ticking.

Actual footage of Larson performing at the keyboards during the end credits validates the concept and scope of his art-making magnified throughout the film in Garfield’s performance.


Keali‘i Reichel, one of Hawaii’s true luminaries of mele  and hula, opened a four-night, six-show engagement last night (Nov. 18)  at Blue Note Hawaii.  Performances continue today (Nov. 19) through Sunday (Nov. 21), at the Outrigger Waikiki venue.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and you get better with age – and both apply to Reichel, one of Hawaii’s beloved entertainers. His followers have missed him during the pandemic that shuttered the performing venues and that break seems to have mellowed Reichel.

I once called him a reluctant singer, because while he boasts a heavenly voice, he’s been rather shy of strutting his stuff, from the vantage point of taking centerstage to croon like, well, Adele. Hello? He’s not Adele but he could take a few cues from her.  

It’s been 27 years since Reichel issued his first and best-selling “Kawaipunahele,” a landmark album/hit that put him on the map as a vocalist and compose. Since then, he’s been a prolific contributor of Hawaiian and some haole titles that have made him a certified star.

Keali’i Reichel: Front and center once.

 Wish he would be more of an up-front-and-center headliner, like Adele.

It’s been about 40 years since he established his Halau Kealaokamaile and developed a trademark of tapping alakai – lead dancers/teachers — and hula stylists over the decades. I recall hearing him before seeing him, singing in a malo at a Kauai fund-raiser for his halau, back in the day.

It’s been two years since he appeared on the Blue Note stage, when he guest-starred with Ho‘okena during the early stages of the coronavirus crisis, in what loomed as a bona fide powerhouse of a double-bill.

It’s been nine years since he’s staged in his own show in Honolulu, though he infrequently has brought his star power to Maui venues. So he’s been ripe for this homecoming.

A barefooted Reichel

As he delivered his opening tune, he seemed to struggle his way into finishing “I Will Be Here,” a ballad in English which was one of his hits from earlier years. He gave a huge sigh of relief , “Whew,” when he completed the tune in the lone moment where he was front and center, singing into the mike, without a trusty guitar or ukulele which he would alternately strum throughout the rest of the show.

That static position — sitting with his three trusty accompanists and kinda tucking himself behind a fresh maile lei that hung on the mike stand – is not what stars generally do.

Assuredly, Reichel is a not just a singer/musician; he is a composer, a chanter, a dancer, a choreographer and a kumu hula of Halau Kealaokamaile. A true show biz hyphenate.

In a volley of charming but unnecessary self-deprecating comments, he admitted he was gay, er grey, and – alluding to the shutdown of the pandemic –  fat but alive. He said he’s finally reached the uncle status, when younger folks use that nickname in the spirit of respect.

He said he was rusty, because he’s been idled by the pandemic,  but I found him trusty, despite the staging concept. His compositions are in English and Hawaiian and suited for choreography, hence the waves of hula by his six dancers (and one alakai, a leader within the halau) who performed in gorgeous eye-filling hula, in mulitples of six, four, three or even one dancer.

Hula dancers from Halau Keolaokamaile, in the Reichel show.

Oh, and his backup trio  and three backup singers, made it quite a crowd on stage. The instrumentalists provided stellar support, but the three voices often were not miked properly and had moments of not being properly heard.

Reichel never acted like a star and his style and manner haven’t changed much over the decades. He shared his stage time generously, with perhaps more hula than necessary.

He appeared wearing a black shirt over a pair of gray trousers, his graying hair coiled in a small ponytail, suggesting his 60ish age. A cluster of bracelets adorned his right wrist, and his only other jewelry was a white shell necklace.

And he was barefeet, sans shoes, the hallmark of a true hula stylist, and likely is/was the only other headliner taking the Blue Note stage minus footwear.. The other is/was the late Willie K, a fellow Mauian.

Reichel’s serenades favored Maui mele, reflections of home and life and love. (He’s gleeful about double-entendre tunes that relate emotions on two levels, one nice, one naughty).

 The numbers ranged from the sit-down hula,”Ke Aloha,” by the ladies, and a graceful and sentimental “E O Mai,” one of his signature Hawaiian ballads.

While “Nematoda,” a novelty song, was one of his off-center favorites, Reichel did not share with his first-show audience his biggest hit, “Kawaipunahele,” a true misstep (he performed it as a hana hou entry for his second-show fans).

Adele would never leave her stage without sharing the likes of “Someone Like You,” “Rolling in the Deep,” or “Hello” … and Reichel should not abandon titles that made him a star, even if he doesn’t believe he’s a star. You get rusty when you lose the trust of your following…

And that’s Show Biz …