Rumors have been flying high and wide in Hawaii Kai– some true, most not – about the fate of area businesses. And Rep Gene Ward  (R, House District 18), has taken on the role of taskmeister, sorting out the truth, in an email to constituents.

I’ve heard some of the buzz, but not all. And Ward examines the riff and the raff. But he has not addressed all the concerns in the neighborhood.

Like: Costco Hawaii Kai is not closing. Never heard that it might exit our neighborhood. Nor the chatter that the Hawaii Kai Satellite City Hall was shuttering. Ward indicates that Councilman Tommy Waters’ office revealed that the convenient satellite city hall, tucked behind Roy’s Restaurant, has a lease through Aug. 31, 2031. Good to know.

Rep. Gene Ward

More disclosures:

The Hawaii Kai office of the Honolulu Police Department is staying put; the office “functions solely as  an unmanned workspace, which officers may intermittently utilize for writing reports” and is not open to the public, so it would have no impact on staffing levels in East Oahu. That’s comforting news.

Here are some good news and bad news: The abandoned restaurant space at the Hawaii Kai Towne Center, once occupied by Outback Steakhouse and most recently by the failed launch of Scratch Kitchen near Roy’s, will gain a new tenant, but  it won’t be an eatery. Bank of Hawaii, which has a small space at Koko Marina Center, will expand again to occupy the Scratch space. (The bank had been a long-time tenant at Koko Marina, across Zippy’s).

I have two questions for Rep. Ward: There’s been buzz that Zippy’s might shut down its take-out counter, which has been operating after Zippy’s closed its dine-in restaurant. That area still is vacant, and folks are wondering: Will Zippy’s reconsider and return to dine-in, too, or might another restaurant move in?

And more queries: What or who might acquire the abandoned Koko Marina multi-plex movie theaters? The front signage has been removed and the building frontage painted; but the rear sign, visible from Lunalilo Home Road, still is there. Why?

One final query: since Ben Franklin left its Koko Marina home years ago, the vacancy remains after a game center failed. There had been earlier rumors that a health-food market might move in, and also an H-Mart store, but the doors are stlll locked, with the UPS store the only surviving merchant on that corridor.

 Rep. Ward welcomes queries and concerns about Hawaii Kai businesses. You may reach him via phone at (808) 586-6420 or email repward@capitol.hawaii.gov …

TAG seeks $15,000 to upgrade light and sound

The Actors’ Group (TAG), the fledging theater group located at the Brad Powell Theatre at Dole Cannery, is seeking 15,000 to upgrade its lighting and sound systems.

And it’s off to a great start: $7,900 already has been committed from donors and supporters.

The plans will include acquiring LEDs and updated software to replace antiquated equipment from the theater group’s Yellow Brick Studio facilities in Kaka‘ako.

LEDs are energy-efficient, with longer lifespan, and will reduce on-stage heat for actors. Power speakers will enhance amplification and depth, benefitting theater audiences.

Contributions, large or small, may be made at the theater during performance or at the group’s website, at www.taghawaii.net

Broadway grosses, for the week ending May 5

While “The Lion King” still lords over the weekly list of Broadway grosses – the lone show in the $2 million club – the arrival of newbies will likely change the rankings in future weeks.

The Top 10:

1–“The Lion King,” $2,035 million.

2—”Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club,” $1,920 million.

3—”Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” $1,762 million.

4—”Hamilton,” $1,732 million.

5—”Wicked,” $1,586 million.

6—”The Wiz,” $1,458 million.

7—” MJ the Musical,” $1,456 million.

8—”Merrily We Roll Along,” $1,435 million.

9—”Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” $1,405 million.

10—“Hell’s Kitchen,” $1,270 million.

The complete list, courtesy the Broadway Guild:

And that’s Show Biz…


Four community mothers, including Cha Thompson, the co-founder and retired vice-president of Tihati Productions, will be singularly and collectively honored as the 2024 Outstanding Mothers Awards winners in an event at 11:30 a.m. to 2 p,m. May 26 at the Alohilani Resort in Waikiki.

Three other honorees in the American Lung Association and Lung Force Women’s Cabinet are notable professionals and leaders in the community: Bettina Mehnert, president and CEO of Architects Hawai‘i, Dr. Diane Paloma, president and CEO of Hawai‘i Dental Service, and Angela Pratt, M.D., OB/GYN department chair at Kapiʻolani Medical Center for Women and Children.

Photo IDs: Cha Thompson, right; Dr. Diane Palona,below, left; Bettina Mehner, further below right; and Angela Platt, further below left.

Thompson’s company is the largest producers of Polynesian entertainment industry shows in Hawaii and the world.

 The honorees acknowledge the crucial, ongoing challenges in lung health, from the impact of COVID-19 to the rise in vaping rates

among youth and the air quality concerns resulting from the Lahaina wildfires on Mau

 The ALA providies essential lung health programs and connects individuals to vital resources.

The proceeds raised from the Outstanding Mother Awards, directly contributes to sustaining the Lung Association’s life-saving efforts in the islands.

Sponsorship options include four premium tables of eight, $25,000 two diamond tables, $12,000; one emerald table, $6,000; one pearl table, $3,000.

Deadline for table reservations is May 3; Ad options in a journal, for personal messages, are also available; deadline is April 19.

For details, visit Action.Lung.org, or contact Angela Petersons at angela.petersons.@lung.org or call (808) 437…

Hawaii No Ka Oi

The Hawaii Symphony Orchestra has a slate of shows in the weeks ahead at the Hawaii Theatre:

  • Robert Cazimero stages a Hapa Symphony concert, at 7:30 p.m. April 23 and 24. Tickets: $10.50 to $99.00. .
  • Beethoven Fest features the HSO conducted by Dane Lam, with pianist Mahani Veave, at 4 p.m. April 27, Tickets: $19:99 to $89.00.
  • “LOST” in concert scopes the soundtrack of the filmed-in-Hawaii favorite, at 7 p.m. April 27. Tickets: $19.00 to $89.00
  • Ukulele whiz Jake Shimabukuro will strum his stuff in another Hapa Symphony, at 7:30 p.m. May 18. Tickets: $10.50 to $99.00.
  • Shoshkovich Five, at 4 p..m. May 19, features Dane Lam, conducting, and Michelle Cann, pianist. Tickets: $10.50 to $99.00.
  • Hawaii Theatre box office: : (808) 528-0506

And that’s Show Biz…


Robert Cazimero’s 75th birthday celebration last night (March 20) at Chef Chai’s was an unprecedented three-hour serenade, characterized by a spectrum of melodies  by the maestro of the keyboard.

The champagne flowed, which fueled the formidable mini-marathon, and the vocals prompted impromptu and voluntary hula, validating the local custom of getting up and dancing, if you know the particular number. So, a continuous wave of hula brothers and sisters  – solo, or perhaps up to seven or eight — joined the celebratory, mesmerizing moments.

And lei. Plenty of lei were bestowed on Cazimero, nearly burying him head-deep in fragrant pikake and pua keni keni,  making him look like a Kamehameha Schools chap on graduation day.

Naturally, his output of tunes – Hawaiian, pop classics, even kid-time numbers – made him appear like a human jukebox, minus the coins needed to fuel the music. This was, emphatically, a command performance before a loyal crowd, mostly of folks who’ve followed him concerts large and small. Cazimero might have stayed till midnight, but the non-stop three-hour session set a record.


And since we’ve reviewed his shows regularly in recent months, we’ll resort to sharing instead a modest gallery of those who danced. And if you know the restaurant’s setting, the aisles are not ideal for dancing, or photographing.

Happy birthday, Robert…may you have more joyous years of serenading. And mahalo, Chai Chaowasaree, for providing Robert a monthly showcase…

And that’s Show Biz…


Diamond Head Theatre’s 2024-25 season will offer a potpourri of shows, including one Hawaii premiere, a Christmas favorite, musical revivals with timeless and traditional plots and tunes,  a splashy kid-centric cartoon  production, and a textbook play on how to prepare for a stage role.

The season begins Sept. 20 and “builds on DHT’s tradition of artistic excellence with fresh energy and innovative theatrical storytelling…and offers entertainment for all ages, from keiki to kupuna,” said Trever Tamashiro, Diamond Head’s executive director, in a statement.

Productions run for three weeks, with performances Thursdays through Sundays, including weekend matinees. Extension playdates are added, when there is a demand.

The lineup includes:

“Honeymoon in Vegas,” a musical with a book by Andrew Bergman and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, based on a 1992 film of the same name. Jack Singer promises his dying mother he’d never marry but falls in love with Betsy Nolan. They elope to Las Vegas but a charming gambler, Tommy Korman, threatens to steal Betsy away, leading to a madcap adventure including a romp to Hawaii. Opens Sept. 20.

“White Christmas,” a musical  based on a 1954  Paramount film, with book by  David Ives and Paul Blake, and music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. A tale of  two veterans, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, who had a successful song-and-dance act after World War II, who seek and follow two singing sisters at a Vermont lodge owned by the soldiers’ Army commander. Features Berlin’s trademark tune, “White Christmas,” plus “Blue Skies,” “I Love A Piano,” and “How Deep Is the Ocean.” Opens Nov. 22.

“Master Class,” written by Terrence McNally, a textbook lesson on how Maria Callas conducted a master class to bolster an audition. Rich with theatrical nuggets, about a soprano, Sophie, who selects a challenging aria, and details of Callas’s famous affair with Aristotle Onassis and struggles with her own career. Opens Jan. 24.

“Grease,” the teen musical best known for the 1978 film hit co-starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, based on a  a screenplay by Bronté Woodard and an adaptation by co-producer Allan Carr, inspired by the stage musical of the same name by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey.  Set in 1959 at Rydell High, greaser Danny Zuko and new-girl-in-town  Sandy Dumbrowski flourish amid the travails of the Burger Palace Boys and Pink Ladies. With jukebox hits like “Summer Nights,” “Greased Lightnin’,” and “You’re the One That I Want,” this is the soundtrack for teenhood. Opens March 21, 2025.

“Man of La Mancha,”  the  beloved musical inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” novel, with book by Dale Wasserman, music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion, who gave the world “The Impossible Dream” anthem. Set during the Spanish Inquisition, the musical finds Cervantes and his fellow prisoners staging a play about the elderly Alonso Quijana, who becomes the idealistic knight Don Quixote on a quest to right the world’s wrongs. Windmills matter, too.  Opens May 23, 2025.

“SpongeBob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical,” the undersea spectacle based on the animated Nickelodeon series, where SpongeBob lives. With book by Kyle Jarrow and music by Steven Tyler, Sara Bareilles, Panic! and  Plain White T’s. The mission at hand for the denizens of the deep is to save Bikini Bottom from a looming volcanic eruption. So SpongeBob finds unity with his buddies Patrick, Sarah, Squidward and Mr. Krabs to save Bikini Bottom. For the young and young at heart. Opens July 18, 2025.

Season subscribers can renew seats for the forthcoming season, with tickets available for $162. Renewing subscriptions will guarantee seats for subscription holders before subscriptions and sales are offered to the general public.

To become a subscriber, visit diamondheadtheatre.com or call the box office at (808) 733-0274…

MGM Resorts debunk Bruno’s debt rumors

Bruno Mars pictured below, doesn’t owe millions in gambling debt to MGM Resorts — despite what a recent report claimed — according to TMZ.

A rep for MGM Resorts International has told the website that singer Mars doesn’t have a $50 million gambling tab on the books with them, calling the allegation “completely false.”

In fact, the Las Vegas resort  remains excited to continue to collaborate with the Grammy winner again in the future. Didn’t quite believe the rampant rumor that Mars would be the gambling kind who walked away from a debt.

 “We’re proud of our relationship with Bruno Mars, one of the world’s most thrilling and dynamic performers,” the hotel/casino said in a statement. “From his shows at Dolby Live at Park MGM to the new Pinky Ring lounge at Bellagio, Bruno’s brand of entertainment attracts visitors from around the globe. MGM and Bruno’s partnership is longstanding and rooted in mutual respect. Any speculation otherwise is completely false.”…

And that’s Show Biz…


Robert Cazimero’s “Pae ‘Aina (Hawaiian for archipelago)  concert yesterday (March 17) was a two-part wonderment, celebrating the splendor of hula kahiko (ancient hula) in the first half, and informal chit-chat plus some hula auwana (modern hula) in the second half.

Cazimero, the kumu hula of Halau Na Kamalei O Lililehua, was acknowledging the astonishing breadth and roots of male hula and vocalizing, the hallmarks of his gents, at the near sell-out performance at Leeward Community College Theatre.

The opening number: “This Is Our Island Home.”

So, what was on display? Plenty, like the pulse, the professionalism, and the perfection within the halau, reflecting  the devotion, the loyalty, the commitment, the camaraderie, and the brotherhood that have been the trademark of Halau Na Kamalei, now in its 49th year of sharing the

mesmerizing and magnificence of hula.

Clearly, Cazimero has shaped and honed his dancers, with choreography and vocals, and the process involves imagination and innovation, with syncopated movement and harmonic singing.

At the launch of the show, the guys rendered “This Is Our Island Home,” which became a medley with “He Aloha Nihoa,” which triggered an island-by-island tour de force, embracing each island with mele, beginning with Kaho‘olawe, Ni‘ihau, Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Lana‘i and Moloka‘I, Maui and the Big Island. With this ‘ohana, no island is left out.

When the company of 20 performs, the spectators have a lot to explore and examine – fingers and hands, feet and legs, arms and knees uniformly perform as one unit; the choreography enables any number of troupers – six, eight, two, four dancers beginning the hula, and  two or four or one would  easily glide into motion, without skipping a beat. That’s precision.

Hula kahiko — gents dance, kumu Robert Cazimero on pahu.

The lads augment Cazimero’s stint at the piano and pahu (drums), utilizing a number of traditional hula instruments for hula kahiko, like ‘uli ‘uli  (percussion gourd), pu ‘ili (bamboo rattle), pu‘ohe (bamboo trumpet)  ‘ipu (gourd drum) and kala‘au (rhythm sticks). That’s versatility.

Gunnie, clad in ti leaf skirt and draped in maile, has a solo moment.

As the regular  Cazimero viewers know, the gents have nicknames like Bully, Kolohe, Buddy, Gunnie and Puna.  There’s even a Brad Cooper in the ranks (he says he’s the original, not the film star) and peers  with conventional names, like Nick, Zach, Jonah, Daniel, Parker, and Keola, among others, who emerge and entertain. That’s normalcy.

These guys let their hair down after intermission, in an informal, unscripted,  hang-loose segment with panel leaders. Hula brother Manu Boyd had a stint in this section, too. The format was risky, the comments hilarious, the mood spontaneous. That’s humanity.

The finale: Lahela Ka’aihue dances on “Waika.”

Throughout the show, hula sisters like Sky Perkins took the mike to introduce the tour of the archipelago . Another hula sister, Lahela Ka‘aihui joined the company to dance in the finale, “Waika.”  That’s fellowship.

Everthing considered, it was a halau of a production…

And that’s Show Biz…