It’s a Rodgers & Hammerstein II weekend for the I’m A Bright Kid Foundation and Paliku Theatre at Windward Community College.

IABK is staging “An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday (Sept. 29) and Saturday (Sept. 30) with a 4 p.m. matinee Sunday (Oct. 1).

The program will showcase memorable melodies from the Big 5 of the R&H catalogue: “The King & I” (1951),“South Pacific” (1949) “Oklahoma” (1943),“Carousel” (1945) and “The Sound of Music” (1959).

The shows, and select titles from each, are some of the all-time favorites of the late Ron Bright, pictured left, the inspiration for the I’m A Bright Kid Foundation and its mission to perpetuate and preserve Mr. B’s legacy.

Clearly, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II “invented” the Broadway musical we’ve come to know and applaud. The duo’s fingerprints are evident, if you’ve been a fan over the decades.

This column is intended to shed some light and perhaps share some flashpoints in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s legacy. Note: some personal reflection appears here, along with data from Wikipedia.

Rodgers & Hammerstein, in a commemorative postage stamp.

The duo’s first stage musical, “Oklahoma!,” set the template for future shows to come; the show this year marked its incredible 80th anniversary. The songs were composed with specific needs, with every aspect of the play—from the lyrics to the choreography, from the staging to the costuming — integrating key theatrical elements to propel the storytelling. Prior “musicals” featured actors who could sing but not necessarily dance, featured on tunes placed and paced without the innovative storytelling element.

R&H’s legacy include these elements:

  • An overture, a sweeping panorama of the songs to come, prior to the show’s opening scene.
  • A dream sequence, not in every show but launched in “Oklahoma!,” which featured a ballet-type dance moment with integral links to the storyline.
  • Recordings of the entire score, providing a soundtrack for fans to listen at home. The first cast recording was for “Oklahoma!,” with  Decca Records issuing a keepsake that revolutionized the recording industry that provided a bundle of 78 rpm discs that sold for $5 back in the day, with “singles” (also on 78 rpm discs) retailing for 50 cents.

Some questions answered:

  • Did Rodgers & Hammerstein write shows for film?  (“State Fair”)  And television (“Cinderella”).
  • Has the duo won major awards? (Lots: 42 Tony Awards, 15 Academy Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes, two Grammy Awards and two Emmy Awards.)


“An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein Classics”

A musical revue of Rodgers and Hammerstein evergreens, from “King & I,” “South Pacific,” “Oklahoma!,” “Carousel” and “Sound of Music,” reflecting the favorite titles of the late Ron Bright.

Where: Paliku Theatre, Windward Community College

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday (Sept. 29) and Saturday (Sept. 30) and 4 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 1)

Tickets: Premium, $32; adult, $27; seniors 65+, students up to 13, military, $22’ children 6-12, $17; free, toddlers 2 to 5; babies under 2 not allowed; reservations at

Broadway grosses, week ending Sept. 24

With the closure of several shows over the past few weeks, the grosses on the Great White Way are somewhat static – oldies are goldies, with one exception – the arrival of “Merrily We Roll Along,” making its debut on the charts:

The week’s Top 10:

1 – “The Lion King,” $1.911 million.

2 –“Hamilton,” $1.744 million.’

3 – “Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” $1.530 million.

4 – “MJ, the Musical,” $1.379 million.

5 – “Wicked,” $1.321 million.

6 –“Merrily, We Roll Along,” $1.304 million.

7 – “Aladdin,” $1.166 million.

8 – “Moulin Rouge,” $1.093 million.

9 – “Back to the Future, the Musical,” $1.036 million.

10 – “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” $936,561.

Here’s the complete list, courtesy The Broadway Guild:

And that’s Show Biz. …


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

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 or (808) 988-6131.


Less is more, as the adage goes, and more or less, “Celebrate 60 Years” – the tribute applauding the six-decades-long career of the late Ronald E. Bright (pictured below) legendary director and stage mentor – succeeded in capsulizing Mr. B’s impact on the cultural scene here.

The show, which ran nearly 2 ½ hours last night (Sept. 2) at the Ron Bright Performance Center at Castle High School, had more highs than lows, but it clearly needed Mr. B’s intervention to keep the momentum going. More or less, the program was nostalgic fun — but needed tweaking.

Unable yet to drive due to health issues since early August, I took a cab ride to and from  the Kaneohe theater, anticipating a crisp celebratory evening. As a follower and journalist cheerleader for Mr. B. for nearly 60 years, I couldn’t miss this one. But yikes, the taxi journey seemed a tad smoother than the show.

The event was a collaboration between the Castle Performing Arts Center (CPAC), where Bright had roots in creating a high school theatrical program like no other, and the I’m a Bright Kid foundation, which was organized after Mr. B’s death to preserve and perpetuate his dreams and legacy.

The problem: the well-intentioned show lacked a director, though the leaders of both camps —Karen Meyer, who succeeded Bright at Castle, who has been at the reigns for 22 years, and Ligaya Stice, a former Bright Kid who now is the executive director of IABK – managed to serve up a fond remembrance of Mr. B, then and now.

The issue was the erratic range of voices of reflections – wonderful at best, overlong at worst – because of the neglect to monitor time and content. If you were there, you know who was splendid and who was not, and it came down to time; when Meyer had to go on stage to nudge one reflective voice to scurry and hurry away from the podium due to a lack of brevity, that’s where the less-is-more guideline applied. Most speakers were spot-on perfect, however.

Two Bright Kids allies: Allan Lau, left, and Devon Nekoba, right.

The performances were astounding, considering the range and variety:

  • “Harmonious,” a remarkable dance sequence by Marcelo Pacleb’s 24 VII Danceforce company, was visually and aurally impressive, with Broadway-quality movements and costumes and projections that had bursts of “The Lion King,” and now-and-wow dances and vocals to stun the eyes and the ears.
  • “This Is Me,” featuring the IABK summertime institute youths, was a reprisal performance with a message-marvelous theme from “The Greatest Showman.” A worthy hana-hou specimen of the ongoing good work inspired by Mr. B.
  • The family vocals on “A Million Dreams,” also from “Showman,” tapped– for the first time – dad Michael Bright, mom Jade Auguay Bright, and their kids, Caitlin, Drew and Colton Bright . A splendid union of talent.
  • Caitlin Bright, literally was “On My Own,” soloing on the “Les Miserables” heart-tugger, and demonstrating the stage is in her future, should she want to focus and go for it.
  • “For Good,” an anthem from “Wicked,” was a demonstration that former Bright divas Kimee Balmilero, Saralea Gamiao Kekuna, Jodi Leong and Ligaya Stice still have the prowess and pizzaz to deliver a ballad.
  • Miguel Cadoy III, the Farrington High School educator, earned hurrahs for his “Man of Mancha” solo, “The Impossible Dream.”
  • The brotherly song of challenges, “Anything You Can Do” from “Annie Get Your Gun,” showed the playful rapport between brothers, Ezekiel Kekuna and Ezra Kekuna.
  • Michael Bright led the opening notes of “If You Believe,” as others chimed in on the Mr. B-chosen anthem from “The Wiz,” now kind of an alma mater among Bright Kids; it was an appropriate show-closer finale, a tune that all youths and adults in a Bright show, then and now, learn by heart and its spirit lives in their daily lives. Believe, and you’ll achieve.

Two archival montages from Bright’s early years as director-teacher and snapshots of various casts in the variety of musical productions over the dates, were fun to watch but both lacked captions to indicate show title and year. One clip had promotional captions that did not have vital what-and-when dates.

Because Sept. 2 would have been Mr. B’s 90th birthday, the cast and the spectators sang “Happy Birthday” to their mentor, and pieces of cakes were shared with folks departing the theater. For sure, Mr. B was smiling approval from his heavely perch.

And appropriately, Mo Bright, widow of Ron, was properly and affectionately declared as a vital element with a legacy in her own right, having been the sidekick of Ron at all productions over the decades.  She believed, back in the days, and continues to believe in his work and his disciples.

And that’s Show Biz. …


Ron Bright, the beloved director-drama teacher, was an inspiration to the scores of theater students he mentored.

A show marking his 60th anniversary at Castle High School, will be staged at 7:30 p.m. day  (Sept. 2) at the Ron Bright Performing Arts Center at Castle. Today also marks his 90th birthday.
His wisdom about performers, audiences and the venues has been shared before; the I’m A Bright Kid foundation periodically shares this  savvy behavior guide at shows. (This last appeared in IABK’s “This Is Me” playbill).

With the curtain rising on the 2023-24 theater season this month, the advice here is universally applicable.

Thanks, Mr. B!