“NCIS: Hawaii” will welcome a new field agent, when the delayed CBS season of the popular island-filmed procedural premieres Feb. 12.

“Hawaii” will bid aloha – in this case, welcome not goodbye – to NCIS Senior Field Agent Sam Hanna, played by LL Cool J, who has joined the Hawaii cast, following his 14-season tour in sister show “NCIS: Los Angeles,” which shut down at the conclusion of the last season.

It’ll be  a recurring role for the Cool one, who is lending his presence and savvy during the third season of the Hawaii franchise, led by Vanessa Lachey as Special Agent Jane Tennant. Lachey also was happy for Hanna’s joining her here. “This is an amazing opportunity to continue evolving the NCIS franchise,” Lacey told  TVLine and the Cool/Hanna presence.

For Cool, it’s a continuation of the earlier crossover specials with “Hawaii” and “L.A.”

All in the ohana: LL Cool J joins Vanessa Lachey in “NCIS: Hawaii.,”

As the NCIS franchise’s key figures, Cool will bring add vigor and variety when he joins the team here  as a regular to the Pearl Harbor office’s efforts to stop Naval injustice. 

Noah Mills, who plays Jesse Boone on the “Hawaii” team, has expressed support of Agent Hanna on the island show. In an earlier “Entertainment Tonight,” after the SAG-AFTRA strike was settled, he said, “Are you kidding me? I’m so excited I got to work with him on the NCIS crossover ‘The Mothership.’ He’s so cool and just has such a strong presence and is an experienced actor. I mean, he was telling me stories, that guy was going to Studio 54, when he was 16 in New York. He’s done it all. We got a heavyweight coming. So, it’s gonna be great.” 

Cool posted on X, formerly Twitter, “Couldn’t keep Sam Hanna off the case for too long!!”

“NCIS,” the original flagship of the franchise, will also premiere Feb. 12 at 7 p.m., preceding the Hawaii show at 8 p.m. — a great lead-in for the local hit. …

Two musicals open this weekend

Diamond Head Theatre’s production of Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady” premieres tomorrow night (Dec. 1), for a run though Dec. 30. This includes extension dates, beyond the earlier Dec. 17 closing.

Bryce Chaddick is directing. Anna Young is cast as Eliza Doolittle, and Garrett Hols and David Young are double-cast as Henry Higgins. (David is the spouse of Anna). Eli Foster will portray Colonel Pickering.


Mo‘olele Studio’s “The Year Christmas Was Almost Cancelled,” a holiday original by Kyle Kakuno (script) and Roslyn Catracchia (music), opens tomorrow night (Dec. 1) for a Dec. 1 to 23 residency at Mamiya Theatre, on the Saint Louis School/Chaminade University campus.

The show premiered last season, and appears to becoming an annual holiday attraction. A pre-show as well post-performance program are part of the agenda, so go early and stay a bit later after exiting.

Many of the original cast are back.


‘Lion’ gross nearly $3 million

Five Broadway musicals have a lot to be thankful for – like grosses topping $2 million — becoming members of the $2 million club as leaders on the Great White Way. Apparently, the Thanksgiving holiday must’ve included a dessert of a hit show, if the Broadway League rundown is an indication.

The champion – Disney’s “The Lion King” – nearly topped $3 million, in figures for the week ending Nov. 26. The Top 10:

1 – “The Lion King,” $2,912 million.

2 – “Wicked,” $2,753 million,

3 —  “Hamilton,” $2,293 million.

4—“ Merrily We Roll Along,” $2,046 million.

5—“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” $2,027 million.

6 – “MJ The Musical,” $1,384 million.

7 – “Aladdin,” $1,881 million.

8—“ Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” $1,284 million,

9—“ Back To The Future: The Musical,” $1,814 million.

10—”Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” $1,807 million.

The full list:

And that’s Show Biz …


A Hawaii lad from Kaneohe, Ezekiel Ko‘iaweawe Gamiao Kekuna, is one of four minor actors who will join the cast of the  phenomenal Tony Award-winning  Disney musical, “The Lion King,” beginning Dec. 5.

Zeke, who is a sixth grader at Kapunahala Elementary School, will portray Young Simba, sharing the role with Albert Rhodes Jr., with two girls, Annika Franklin and Nia Thompson, double-cast as Young Nala.

All the youths are making their debut on the Great White Way.

Zeke, pictured, who has been in rehearsals in New York for the past month, is no stranger to the stage. He has been a part of the I’m a Bright Kid (Foundation) Summer Program every year since 2018 and has an enviable list of credits, including Diamond Head Theatre’s “The Bodyguard” and in IABK’s “This is Me” at Paliku Theatre. He also has performed with Marcelo Pacleb’s 24-VII Danceforce group.

But musicals are in Zeke’s family DNA, since brother Ezra Kekuna, and sister Azaliah Kekuna also sing, act and dance, following in the footsteps of their mother, Sarahlea Gamiao Kekuna whose mentor was the late Ron Bright, at Castle High School and Paliku. Mom Sarahlea is accompanying Zeke on this journey, so dad Kawaiolu “Billy” Kekuna is home, holding down the fort.

In the past, Hawaii minors – now adult actors – have performed on the Broadway stage. “Les Miserables,” another hot ticket, has featured Jason Tam as Gavroche, Ryan Rumbaugh as Gavroche, and Janel Parrish as Young Cosette. This year, Milo Maharlika is touring in “Les Miz,” portraying Gavroche, but his is not a Broadway gig.

Zeke is earning his union card, with this engagement, and he’s truly lucky: “The Lion King” is Broadway’s hottest ticket now, with a gross of $1,944,894 for the week ending Nov. 19. (See chart below).

Customarily, Broadway companies offer six-month contracts to youth actors, since they shoot up – get tall – pretty quickly and there is a height restrictions for certain roles.

Zeke is of Filipino, Hawaiian, African-American, Native-American, Irish and English descent – a walking United Nation – and with his joy and potential, who knows? He could play Simba, the father lion, or Scar, the nasty uncle, when he’s older, in the next chapter of his career.

“He’s a wonderful performer and a great kid,” said a proud Allan Lau, president of the I’m a Bright Kid Foundation, about Zeke’s Broadway opportunity. Lau oversees the company’s summer program, where the seed was sowed in Zeke’s journey to the stage, almost as if Mr. B scripted this achievement. It’s a feather in the Bright franchise….

More good news for IABK

It’s been nothing but good news for IABK, which received a $25,000 donation from the Honolulu Cookie Company, which is commemorate its 25th anniversary, with grants to three local non-profits. IABK is one, along with the Malama Aina Foundation and Kupu.
“Honolulu Cookie Company has supported our summer program since its inception in 2017,” said IABK. “A heartfelt mahalo to Ryan Sung, President of Honolulu Cookie Company; Keith and Janet Sung, Executive Vice Presidents; and Kathy Arasaki, Senior Vice President. We are so grateful for your support.” …

“The Lion King” drawing nearly $2 million

Zeke is joining the Disney musical at a great time; for the week ending Nov. 19 (newer figures are due this week). The show is just a whisker away from the $2 million mark.

See the grosses, courtesy The Broadway Group:

And that’s Show Biz. …


Chef Roy Yamaguchi, a culinary standout for 40 years who will mark his 35th anniversary of his flagship Roy’s Restaurant in Hawaii Kai on Dec. 6, is the next executive director of the Culinary Institute of the Pacific (CIP) at Kapiolani Community College.

His appointment was approved by the University of Hawaii Board of Regents at their Nov. 16 meeting and Yamaguchi’s start date is Jan. 2, 2024.

“Throughout his career, he has demonstrated a deep commitment to education by founding and sponsoring scholarship programs and fundraising campaigns that have supported countless students at high schools and colleges here and abroad,” said Kapiolani CC Chancellor Misaki Takabayashi.

While Yamaguchi has been a standout in the restaurant industry globally for more than four decades, he has managed more than 40 restaurants around the world, as chef, founder, and owner.

Yamaguchi, pictured above, was one of the 12 founding members of the innovative Hawaii Regional Cuisine organization, which changed the taste and face of island dining. Established in 1991, the concept advocated a network of farmers and ranchers to become resources so Hawaii foodies could enjoy farm-to-table ingredients, flavored and favored by the domestic chefs who created a fusion of fresh ingredients on all the islands to yield cuisine reflecting ethnic elements, embracing Hawaii’s multi-cultural palate as well as multi-nationality population.,

The plan was wildly successful on all fronts, enabling Hawaii to become a pioneering culinary destination, the impact of which continues today.

It was win-win for the cooks as well as providers of the resources of farm and stables, making the concept a resounding success.

Besides Yamaguchi, the founding chefs of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine were Sam Choy, Roger Dikon, Mark Ellman, Amy Ferguson Ota, Beverly Gannon, Jean-Marie Josselin, George Mavrothalassitis, Peter Merriman, Philippe Padovani, Gary Strehl and Alan Wong.

As the culinary program executive director, Yamaguchi will oversee the credit and non-credit programs, culinary research, food innovation, internships, and apprenticeships. Though the position is salaried, Yamaguchi will donate his entire salary to the University of Hawaii
fFoundation to provide funds to cover scholarships to the culinary students at KCC, the future chefs of Hawaii.

Roy’s 35th anniversary gala, from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 6, is themed “Voyage of Flavors,” to be held at Yamaguchi’s flagship eatery. It will assemble a flock of chefs, each creating dishes for guests. Joining Yamaguchi are Celestine Drago, Dean Fearing, Michal Mia, Raphael Lunetta, Vickram Garg, Jonathan Waxman and Alan Wong.
Tickets are $250 and include three drinks, tax, gratuity, and food prepared at food stations by the all-star staff.

For reservations, visit …

And that’s Show Biz…


I had no clue about “Clue,” a black comedy based on a Hasbro-Parker Bros. board game, now at Manoa Valley Theatre. Missed the 1985 movie, too, so this was a wholly mysterious endeavor for me.

It’s a whodunnit, set at the Tudor Mansion, on a stormy, dark night, where six mysterious guests are invited to a dinner party.

The arrivals are a motley crew with outrageous names and eccentricities who are greeted by an equally suspicious butler, Wadsworth (played by a woman, Emily Steward, superb with a British accent), and served by French maid Yvette (Presley A. Wheeler, convivial and agile).

Rob Duval, director, smartly maintains a brisk tempo, to keep the uncertainties bouncing like a ping pong ball.

Discomfort and suspicion rule, as the guests arrive, one by one, clueless about what will be in store. Their queasiness keeps the momentum going:

Professor Plum (Lee Nebe, a perfect off-kilter shrink).

Mr. Green (Malachi McSherry, a harried gay Republican).

Miss Scarlett (Shannon Winpenny, appropriately glorious and sexy).

Mrs. Peacock (Suzanne Green, hilarious as an alcoholic).

Mrs. White (Therese Olival, a multi-time divorcee).

Colonel Mustard (Mike Poblete, hilarious and somewhat of a dimwit).

Their host, Mr. Boddy (Ryan Phillips), is found dead when the lights go out.

Welcome to the quest to find out who the killer is. The ensemble of diners don’t bring appetites; they arrive with questions and doubts, seeking answers to bona fide questions. Are their Washington ties a clue to their unlikely invites?

Amid the fear and farcical mood, the cast consistently display skillful comedics, too. Antoinette Lilley as the cook shines and also turns in a memorable “Singing Telegram” delivery.

Since this is a farce, anything and everything can happen. Possible murder weapons appear (rope, pipe, candlestick), and the body count rises (hidden beneath a blanket on a couch, farcically become “props” in brisk living room poses).

Willie Sabel’s marvelous set gives breadth and breathing space—and allows many moments for manic running – with a full corridor on the second-tier wall of the theater — and lower pockets for communal chatter, races to and from secret and known doors. Notice the overhead chandelier, too, since it will have its moment of glory, too.

In a play with a blackout or two, Chris Gouveia’s lighting is spot-on bright, and coupled with Sarah Velaso’s sound design, the tech work shines, too.

Costumes by Maile Speetjens and hair and makeup by Lisa Ponce de Leon define the characters in the era of the Red Scare.

Paranoia prevails in the ranks; and perhaps in the audience, too. And even the clueless can enjoy the fun in “Clue.” I did.

Apparently, a few earlier productions of this work applied the “Edwin
Drood” element where the audiences help resolve the murderer. Not in this one, however.



What: A whodunnit farce, inspired by the board game “Clue,” adapted by Sandy Rustin from Jonathan Lynn’s screenplay, with additional material by Hunter Foster and Eric Price.

Where: Manoa Valley Theatre.

When:  Opened Nov. 16; continues through Dec. 3; shows are at 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturday Dec. 2 and  3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; includes extended playdates.

Tickets: $25 to $48, at or (808) 988-6131.


Keali‘I Reichel, the Maui-based superstar of Hawaiian mele, chant and hula, made a triumphant return to the Blue Note Hawaii stage Thursday night (Nov. 16).

He’s doing five shows over four nights through Sunday (Nov. 19) at the Outrigger Waikiki resort venue, in whatr constitutes his annual Honolulu residency.

Reichel, who admits he is in the midst of being 61, is eager to hit 62, so he can start collecting Social Security. Or not. He likely will continue concertizing, if the opportunity is there.

His debut album, “Kawaipunahele,” is nearly 30 years old now, and it made him a prime force in island music and dance. As a concert act, he’s still very much in his prime, too, though the venues in Honolulu have become disturbingly scarce. Thus, the Blue Note is red hot for local and visiting acts.

His casual, conversational, and cordial “act” is Reichel at his best. Who else can admit he has hairy toes (he’s always barefooted on stage), and he drops local-style references periodically in his 90-minute show. From gala-gala and hanabata (to non-locals, he says it’s phlegm…and spells out the word), and he’s unashamedly honest to confess and admit he was a “bad boy” at Lahainaluna High School and couldn’t graduate in 1980 until he completed work on one credit during the summer.

This kind of patter reflects his local-boy demeanor. He is clearly a proud Mauian and his cache of songs and dances depict his life, likes and artistry.

He started off his serenades with “Ode to a House,” an homage to his earlier Valley Isle home, as he weaves name songs with place songs in his repertoire to share the joys of his life.

Most tunes are in the Hawaiian language, with a few with inserts in English, but he wisely provides brief descriptions of what he’ll perform, so he’s savvy about engaging his listeners who may not speak or understand the Hawaiian language.

And because he is kumu hula of Halau Ke’alaokamaile, his wahine dancers are joyful with precision galore, providing motion and mana’o to his compositions.

For instance, “Maunaleo,” with dancers in light blue costumes, was about a beloved mountain on Maui depicted as a source of inspiration with its majestic currents. Reichel wrote the tune for his mother, Lei.

 “Kawaiokalena,” another place song, assembled his corps of dancers — clad in black and blue gowns this time — who provided a poetic painting of Piiholo, a secluded area above Makawao on Maui where Reichel and his husband Fred Krauss, now live. Its elevation and wilderness are home to grazing wild boars, cows and deer, and clouds hug the forestry. “You have to have fur BVDs,” Reichel commented about the temps, adding “You have to have big dogs you can put your feet on (presumably, when seated), not chihuahua.”

“Maile’s Song” was a sentimental moment – a tribute to Doris Maile Krauss, the late mother of Fred Krauss – and it reflected the affection he had for her. It’s also a rare instance when English lyrics were lovingly woven into the precious Olelo Hawaii (Hawaiian language).

Of course, being a ‘Luna, he delivered a splendid  rendering of “Lahainaluna,” tossing in a footnote about supporting and devoting kokua to the effort to restore normalcy and restoration of Lahaina, the historic beachfront community ravished by the wildfires.

Reichel’s last tune, on a roster of 15 titles, was “E Ku‘u Home O Kahaluu,” the trademark song composed by Jerry Santos whose career with Olomana soared with this lovely, nostalgic tune engineered by the late Jim Linkner, an award-winning veteran sound engineer who championed Reichel’s career with his engineering savvy. Reichel’s entire discography was engineered by Linkner, so the tribute was genuine and real.

At last year’s Blue Note residency, Reichel played to sold-out houses but left the stage without programming his signature hit, “Kawaipunahele.”

At last night’s show, the audience howled “hana hou, hana hou,” and he returned to the stage to dutifully respond to the request. If you no ask, you no get “Kawaipunahele.”

Lest you don’t know, Reichel’s appeal and following continue to astound; at the table I sat, a visiting Los Angeles couple flew to Honolulu expressly to see Reichel in action and they used airline and hotel points to make the overnight visit. That’s loyalty, for sure – and an indication that Reichel still is in his prime.

And that’s Show Biz…

Keali‘I Reichel

Where: Blue Note Hawaii, at the Outrigger Waikiki resort

When: Opened last night (Nov. 16); remaining shows:

  • Nov. 17, 6:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 18, 6:30 and 9 p.m.
  • Nov. 19, 6:30 p.m

Tickets: $125 for premium seating, $85 for loge seating and the bar zone; available at Doors open at 5 p.m. all nights and 8:30 p.m. for Saturday’s second show.