Geez, it’s a Flashback Moment!

It was 20 years ago, on June 7. 2003, when “Black and White and Read All Over” was staged at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Coral Ballroom. ‘Twas a benefit for Manoa Valley Theatre, sponsored by Honolulu Advertiser (my former employer. This was the promotional postcard. Two beloved Broadway phenoms, Craig Schulman and Cris Groenendaal, provided stunning Broadway music of the night; Schulman starred as Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables” here and Groenendaal was the Phantom in “Phantom of the Opera.”


Scratch Kitchen in Hawaii Kai, occupying the prime location vacated by Outback Steakhouse earlier this year, finally has its liquor license so is fully open for brunch and dinner.

Had a brunch visit earlier, when the menu was scanty. Now, the restaurant is fully open, awaiting patrons.

If you’re seeking breakfast fare, this isn’t your best destination. The brunch offering includes:

THE CLASSIC: three island eggs cooked any style, bacon, salad or crispy smashed potatoes. $16

MILK N’ CEREAL PANCAKES: Topped with fresh fruit and a side of our house milk syrup. $15

BRULEE’D FRENCH TOAST: Punaluu sweet bread, fruits, shredded coconut, maple syrup ala mode $15

Two of the brunch/breakfast items become part of the dinner dessert choices:

BRULEE’D FRENCH TOAST: Punaluu sweet bread, fruits, shredded coconut, maple syrup. $10.

MILK N’ CEREAL PANCAKES: banana, berries, milk syrup. $12

Call it repurposing or down pricing the morning fare; rather peculiar.

So we finally tried dinner. I order what sounded appealing; my wife ordered the fried chicken biscuit:

GRANDMAS FRIED PORK CHOP PASTA: 10 oz bone-in fried pork chop, pappardelle, garlic lemon sauce, capers, parmesan cheese, sautéed broccoli, cherry tomatoes. $26.

COUNTRY GRAVY FRIED CHICKEN BISCUIT: Famous fried chicken, country gravy, house made scallion biscuit, fried kale. $22

The fried chop, top photo above, with the pork sliced but bone retained, came with a pasta with sauteed broccoli and cherry tomatoes. Plating was attractive, with the floured chop crispy brown providing visual variety atop the pasta, and the veggies. The chop was seasoned properly; the pasta lacked seasoning and could have used a bit more salt and pepper.

The chicken on the open-faced biscuit,. second photo above, was overwhelming, bathed in gravy and served with eye-catching fried kale which was crispy; I’m not a kale fan, but my wife is, and fried to me tastes better than raw. The presentation of the chicken atop the biscuit, with lots of gravy, seemed more plentiful than attractive, and wifey ate half and took home only the chicken.

The overall menu is ample and merits a revisit, with ribs and burgers among the choices.

Scratch Kitchen here takes reservations, but on a Saturday night, half the booths and tables had ample space for walk-ins.

My wife had a glass of red wine, with her meal, which was fine; I tried the plantation iced tea, which lacked fruitiness, like tea with a small dollop of lilikoi, back lacking sweetness; a bit of sugar and a sliver of lime or lemon might have provided the plantation jolt.

Prices are competitive with other eateries in East Oahu, like Beastside Bistro at Niu Valley Shopping Center, or Liko’s at the Hawaii Kai Shopping Center. These relatively recent spots, however, boast more island-centric menus that are drawing brisk business on weeknights and weekends.

There’s lots to explore; the restaurant still features a bar with TV monitors, but there’s new booth seating at the bar; a lot more airiness, too, in the interior main dining area. Outside seating has been removed, for now; clearly, Scratch does not need more tables; it needs more diners.

Reservations: https://www.scratch-hawaii.com/ or (808)589-1669.


If you’re wondering why Hawaii superstar Bruno Mars, pictured below, performed one of his chart-toppers, “Treasure,” at the Fairmont Orchid’s launch of the new SelvaRey Rum Bar, the answer is simple: He was toasting a rum he owns.

‘Twas was a private, invitational event, and Mars likely waived his singing fees since he is  co-owner of SelvaRey Rum, a prestige brand whose aged, single estate White, Chocolate, Coconut and Owner’s Reserve Rums are distilled in Panama.

Waimea folks must’ve heard about a luminary local lad was in their vicinity, and for the occasion, rum’s the word. I mean, how many singers own a rum distillery, and can sing about his boozy treasure? …

Michael Paulo still serving jazz

The sax man cometh again.

Michael Paulo, pictured right, a “name” in the jazz circle here and abroad, will stage yet another “Smooth Jazz  Paradise” Concert, at 7:30 p.m. Sunday (May 28) at the Hibiscus Ballroom of the Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra.

Paulo has assembled an all-star band featuring Marion Meadows, a prestigious contemporary jazz saxophonist, who will be joined by Randy Aloya on bass, Michael Grande on keyboards, Garin Poliahu on drums, and Zanuck Lindsey on guitar. Al Waterson will emcee.

A VIP Experience, at 6:30 p.m., includes a meet-and-greet with the artists at a cocktail reception, with coveted premium front-row seating at $250 per person.

Other tickets: $65 presale, for reserved table seating ($70 at the door) and $60 pre-sale for general admission ($65 at the door), available at TIX.com or (951) 696-0184. …

Remembering Tina Turner

Tina Turner, the hypnotic, gyrating, authentic Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, peacefully died today (May 24) at age 83 at her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland. She had a long illness, and Switzerland was her kingdom of peace.

From her early farmland roots, Turner, pictured left, rose to dizzying heights of splendor, as a genuine star of her rock and blues roots, surviving an abusive relationship with her husband  guitar-strumming Ike Turner, whom she divorced.

She was the unchallenged deity of rock, with numerous hit songs recently. explored in a Broadway musical about her conflicted life, and surely a model of a survivor.

Turner was known for her brassy, often gravelly voice in delivery, and her varying style of dress ranging from blue jean jackets to glitzy, shimmering gowns with fringes that danced while body language punctuated her frenetic dances.

Her hit songs were very much a reflection of the soundtrack of life for several decades, from the 1980s to the 2020s, via such classics as “River Deep, Mountain High,” “Simply the Best,” “Private Dancer,”  “Proud Mary,” and “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”

Rock legends reflected on her passing.

Brian Wilson, of the Beach Boys, said on Twitter: “I’m so sorry to hear about Tina Turner. I loved Tina and her voice and energy – she was one of the greats. ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ will always be one of my favorite songs. And nothing beats her version of ‘Proud Mary.’”

Bryan Adams, a Canadian artist  who joined Turner on the 1985 single “It’s Only Love,” said “the world just lost one hell of a powerhouse of a woman.”

Mick Jagger, leader of the Rolling Stones, grieved her  passing and called Turner “enormously talented.” “She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous,” Jagger said in a Twitter post. “She helped me so much when I was young, and I will never forget her.”

Diana Ross’ tweet: “Shocked. Saddened. Sending condolences to Tina Turner’s family and loved ones.”

Singer Ciara said on Twitter: “Heaven has gained an angel. Rest in Paradise Tina Turner. Thank you for the inspiration you gave us all.”

In Hawaii, there was a mammoth concert, staged inside Diamond Head Crater, supposedly for a hush-hush Pepsi-Cola convention audience, starring Tina Turner.  Busloads headed to the crater, in the dark of night, then returned for the après-show journey. Believe this was one of the last-ever performance event inside our iconic Hawaii landmark, and the fact that the queen of rock ruled in such a prestigious moment – if you’re Tina, you get state approval to do the gig, where others fail – should be added to her lists of triumphs. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Negotiate. Abbreviate. Collaborate.

That the tension over the Tony Awards June 11 — will it proceed, or will it be canceled, because there was a Writers Guild of America strike a few days ago — is over.

The show will go on, thanks to the WGA, with some alterations but without union picketers obstructing attendees at the United Palace theater, in the Washington Heights neighborhood.

According to the New York Times, Broadway’s biggest night, televised by CBS for decades, will go on as planned, with all parties reaching a workable temporary agreement.

Last Friday, the awards show was nil. By Monday, a sense of unity energized both sides, essentially enabling the tradition to continue, with some concessions.

“As they have stood by us, we stand with our fellow workers on Broadway who are impacted by our strike,” the Writers Guild of America — which represents screenwriters —  said in a statement late Monday.

But the show cannot rely on pre-written scripts to reflect the glory and the highlights of the 2023 season. The Times noted,  “Tony Awards Productions (a joint venture of the Broadway League and the American Theater Wing) has communicated with us that they are altering this year’s show to conform with specific requests from the WGA, and therefore the WGA will not be picketing the show,” the union said in a statement. “Responsibility for having to make changes to the format of the 2023 Tony Awards rests squarely on the shoulders of Paramount/CBS and their allies. They continue to refuse to negotiate a fair contract for the writers represented by the WGA.”

A revised telecast is better than none. The Broadway community still is wrestling with the three-year pandemic shutdown, and it would have been devastating if the event was totally canceled.

The current hit shows rely on the awards outcome to fuel ticket-buying. The nominated shows are eager to earn a trophy or two, and the newbies which opened in the past few weeks, are struggling to find patrons, too.

The revised plans would include the usual presentation of key awards and live performances of songs from Broadway musicals, but how the protocols work out remain to be seen or heard. Scripted material, prepared prior to the brief threat of a shutdown, cannot be utilized, with the Tony producers abiding to the regulations.

A lot of ad-libbing, perhaps? The awards show is live, so the nominees and presenters may have to resort to the spontaneity of the moment in real time.

Still uncertain, if last year’s host and eventual Tony winner, Ariana DeBose (pictured,) from  “West Side Story,” will host again. She volunteered for the gig, but no decision has been made.

Like Hollywood’s film community, Broadway’s stage industry is heavily unionized, where participants of both entertainment camps are aware of the complications of taking part in the show, with some restrictions to members. For instance, if writers are forbidden to produce scripts for the show, but how does an appearance of a singer, dancer, or musician play out with some kind of script? The dots over the i’s and the crosses across the t’s are up to interpretation.

Prominent theater artists who work on Broadway and are allied with the writers guild also spoke up on behalf of the Tonys, arguing that forcing the show off the air would be catastrophic to the art form and to the many arts workers it employs. The combination of the lobbying efforts and the new conditions appear to have prompted the guild to finally agree Monday that the show would go on.

The striking screenwriters have argued that their wages have stagnated and working conditions have deteriorated despite the fact that television production has exploded over the last decade. Think streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus and more. Negotiations between the major Hollywood studios — represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — and the WGA broke down a month ago, triggering  11,500 writers voting for a strike May 2…

Prime time for Bruddah Iz

Just when you think that the prime time run of Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole’s hit song, “Over the Rainbow” is over, along comes another major placement on Fox’s “9-1-1: Lone Star” earlier this week.

Bruddah Iz’s (pictured, right) very familiar “oooh-oooh-oooh” intro, along with the first verse of the iconic song from “The Wizard of Oz,” had prominent exposure in the wedding scene of T.K. Strand (played by Ronen Rubinstein) and Carlos Reyes (enacted by Rafael Souza), first-responder fireman and police officer, respectively) as they marched down the aisle to exchange their I-do’s sealed with a kiss. ‘Twas the perfect heart-tugging melody, then and now again.

The song has been Hawaii’s No. 1 hit ever since Iz died in 1997, heard in films, TV, and commercial spots globally … but apparently a new generation of fans will again enjoy the new wave of exposure. Great news. …

Broadway grosses, for week ending May 14

Not surprisingly, the million dollar club on the Great White Way, continues to be “The Lion King.”

The Disney musical has topped the weekly grosses tally, provided by the Broadway League. It regained the pinnacle, ever since Hugh Jackman’s “Music Man” prevailed with $3 million grosses week after week.

Here’s the ranking of the top seven shows:

1 — “The Lion King,” $1.950 million.

2 — “Hamilton,” $1.889 million.

3 — “Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” $1.840 million.

4 — “Funny Girl,” $1.637 million.

5 — “MJ, the Musical,” $1.606 million.

6 — “Wicked,” $1.500 million.

7 — Moulin Rouge,” $1.262 million.

And here’s the entire list of the Broadway grosses…

And that’s Show Biz …