For nearly four decades, Karen G. Wolfe has been the heartbeat of productions at Diamond Head Theatre, where she has been costume director responsible for creating garb for all the actors on stage.

With DHT now staging its final musical, “Anything Goes” – and yes, jammed with fashionable gowns, uniforms and more created by Wolfe that could fill several boutiques — in the orininal facility, Wolfe was looking forward to continue her job when “Cinderella” is staged in DHT’s brand new facility a stone’s throw away next January.

But unexpectedly, Wolfe has been told by the theater that “Anything Goes” will be her final show. She won’t be able to try on Cinderella’s slipper to continue her creative services when the new theater opens shop next year. Surely, this must have been a devastating moment in her brilliant career.

With more than 200 shows under her belt, the snub was hurtful and alarming. Wolfe served under both the Honolulu Community Theatre of the past and the current Diamond Head Theatre era.

Karen G. Wolfe, in the Diamond Head Theatre costume shop,

“Not only is this an insult to my mother, it’s an insult to the Hawaii theater community, and a threat to worker’s rights,” said her daughter, Kyla Blasé, who has launched an online petition to help her mother continue as costume designer “so she can choose to retire with celebration at her discretion.”

Veteran actress-singer Shari Lynn, who has graced the DHT and looked glorious in Wolfe’s period-savvy gowns, said “The gifted Karen Wolfe has given life to thousands of characters via her unparalleled artistic vision and dedication to her craft. Sometimes actors don’t fully inhabit the character until the costumer works her magic and they see it fully realized for the first time.

“Fanny, Mame, Dolly and many others were given their signature look by Karen. She is also always sensitive to the body insecurities we all have,” said Shari. “HCT/DHT has been the beneficiary, as she earned great press and countless Po’okelas for them. Granted, I’m not privy to the reasons behind DHT’s decision, but this is not how an organization shows gratitude.”

Aubrey Lee, who has worked in theater here and on the Mainland, said of Wolfe: “Her extensive knowledge, craftsmanship and experience alone is irreplaceable.  I know that such talent is not easy to find. The ability to sew and design alone is a dying art. Being able to form an extensively long list of volunteers is also no easy feat. Losing Karen would be a step backward in Diamond Head Theatre’s current path of moving forward into the future.” Lee added: “Seeing the specifications for a role to currently replace her is honestly laughable. No one will be able to match the time and dedication that Karen has made over the years, no one with the experience needed will take the current rate being offered.”

Lee hopes the DHT board of directors will step in and right a wrong.

Actors, dancers and techies alike will recognize the costume shop as the heart and soul of DHT, particularly where it has been operating just inside the stage door at the back of the aging facility.

The costume shop was the hub for all; if Wolfe was available, you could kibitz, partake of pupu or a beverage, or get a costume fitting. She might have been stitching a hem, or sewing a rip in a garment, but but always open to chit-chats or interviews. At Halloween, the costume shop would be packed with eager beavers from the community trying to rent anything from a ghoulish outfit to a gown featured in an earlier musical.

A petition to sign to perhaps reverse the decision, go to change.org and also visit #keepKaren

Blasé, herself a theatrical veteran, is currently merchandise manager of “Six” on Broadway and earlier served in the same capacity for “Moulin Rouge” and “School of Rock.”

We didn’t seek comment from DHT, regarding Wolfe’s dismissal, because personnel matters are never discussed.

Meanwhile, rumors are circulating that there could be further changes in the DHT hierarchy. Whatever. But a devoted and experienced costumer is hard to find. …  

Shari catches COVID

Shari Lynn

The aforementioned Shari Lynn has caught COVID-19 and thus had to cancel – for the second time – her gig at Medici’s at Manoa Marketplace, which was scheduled for this Friday, Sept. 30.

The entertainer, who has had her preventive shots, earlier tested for COVID, then cleared when checkups proved negative, but apparently the pandemic bug returned and still is claiming victims.

Shari also had to postpone her plans to get the latest booster shots.

Medici’s later will reschedule the gig, when all signs point to go. Meanwhile, if you have reservations, hold off on cancellation; they’ll be good when the date is firmed up ….

And that’s Show Biz. …


Let the music flow.

Clarke Bright, who proudly holds the baton as bandmaster of the Royal Hawaiian Band, is assembling one of band’s biggest concerts yet.

“E Kani Mau” (“To Resound Forever)” will be staged at 7 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Hawaii Theatre.

The event is free (you have to secure reserved seats from the Hawaii Theatre) and will showcase a panorama of island entertainers — from soloists to trios, from hula halau to a children’s chorus – which will represent a spectrum of island musicianship.

“The city covers the cost for our regularly scheduled concerts,” said maestro Bright, who has led the Royal Hawaiian Band for 12 years. “This is a larger, celebratory concert, that requires a sizeable cost.”

Thus, funding has been provided by Karen Chang Blangiardi, wife of Mayor Rick Blangiardi, from The Creative City.

Bandmaster Clarke Bright

“I selected the guest artists based on who I thought would be a great representation of our Hawaiian musical community, and who were excellent artists,” said Bright. “We are also using some of our regular day-to-day performers, who are equally gifted and respected.”

The slate of participating entertainers includes Amy Hanaiali‘i, Danny Kaleikini, Nathan Aweau, Karen Keawehawai‘i, Keauhou, Andria Tupola, Augie Tulba, Makanani Sala, Malia Ka‘ai, Kala‘i Stern, Michael-Thomas Foumai, Kamehameha Schools’ Children’s Chorus, Halau Ka La ‘Onohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e, Kanani Oliveira, and Ku‘ulei Hazelwood. Kimo Kahoana will emcee

“Yes – we are celebrating our resilience in continual service to the community and as the RHB – I wanted to go all Hawaiian,” said Bright. “ Yes, we have to create charts of varied styles.  We basically take their songs and arrange it for the RHB.  Our two arrangers, Todd Yukumoto and DeShannon Higa, have put in heroic efforts to allow us to accompany these artists.  They are brilliant musicians who are making this concert a reality.  Can’t do it without them.”

Royal Hawaiian Band, at Iolani Palace.

The Royal Hawaiian Band has roots in Hawaiian history; it was created by King Kamehameha in 1836, and thus has been in existence for 186 years, serving the monarchy (and now the city)  in state functions, ranging from funerals to parades.

Now an agency of the city, the band is the only full-time municipal band of its kind in the United States, performing in 360 events, large and small, annually.

When its musical “voice“ was silenced during the pandemic, the focus turned to assisting city initiatives, like food distribution, vaccination support, and call center. It became a healing ambassador to Queen’s Hospital during the vaccination process at Blaisdell Concert Hall.

“The adjustment to little or no music was very different for us,” Bright recalled. “ Being a city agency, we needed to continue to remain viable while doing our best to stay safe and healthy.  We started by doing some much-needed work on our music library – organizing, filing and creating digital copies.  We then started to serve the community.  As the pandemic continued, we reverted to chamber ensembles – primarily because of the gathering limits (crowd sizes)/  As the community continued to get healthy we eventually returned to our normal full band status.  But that also changed as the community went back and forth with restrictions.  We spent several seasons going back and forth from small ensembles to full band.  We have gratefully maintained our full band status since March of this year.”

The band has 38 fulltime members — with Don Hutchison (38 years) as the senior musician, Colton Hironaka (eight months), the newest —  and Bright calls the RHB “a gem of an organization, one of the only remaining links to the monarchy.”

Consequently, the program will honor Queen Liliuokalani, the last monarch, who “had to stay strong for her people during a pandemic and resilient though an overthrow of her kingdom.”

The concert will also feature the world premiere of a piece by Michael-Thomas Foumai, entitled “E Kani Mau,” that is the theme of the freebie. Musically, it tracks the story of the Royal Hawaiian Band “as we made our way through the pandemic. We can’t wait to share it with the community,” said Bright. “It will become part of our regular repertoire, going forward.”

To secure free tickets, visit www.hawaiitheatre.com/tickets. Information: (808) 768-6677 or www.rhb-music.com

And that’s Show Biz. …


Jack Cione, veteran show biz entrepreneur, earlier nightclub operator  and lately known as the director of the “Follies” musical revues, has cancelled a planned  cruise to Tahiti, with good reason.

A week ago, he blacked out in the lobby of the Arcadia, where he resides, falling and breaking two ribs and bruising his face.

“I was rushing to go back to my room, to get my glasses to go to lunch, and I blacked out,” Cione said. “Lucky I didn’t have my glasses.”

 Aides helped him up, and he was rushed to the ER for a checkup. Currently, he’s taped around his chest, tending to the sore ribs, and under a doctor watch.

Jack Cione

At 95, he’s still active,  but slowing down, and this fall has altered his outlook and plans.

He canceled tickets to Manoa Valley Theatre’s “Cabaret” and Diamond Head Theatre’s “Anything Goes.” Too bad; these are his kind of shows, with lots of dancing.

He used to rely on a cane, to hobble down the lobby to catch rides to dinners or lunch. “Now, I use a walker,” he said.

He had ordered, and already is enjoying, a new chair that does more than recline. “It lifts you up,” said Cione.

But since his mishap, he’s ordered — and is anxiously  awaiting delivery in the weeks ahead — a scooter to ease  his mobility situation.

For three years, the pandemic wiped out his plans for a Broadway visit.

“I guess I won’t make my last trip to see shows,” he said, reassessing his situation.

But with a pause, he opined: “But the scooter folds up and fits in a bag for carrying aboard the plane.”

So perhaps a New York trip still might be possible. …

Bruno Mars, bartender?

So Bruno Mars had three concerts in Boston recently, but folks there were abuzz about his unexpected bartending ahead of his last performance.

Bruno Mars

Yep, Mars dropped by the Envoy Hotel’s Lookout Rooftop bar, to pour dozens of drinks for eager, lucky fans. See, he’s co-owner of the SelvaRey Rum, a luxury rum, so this was a commercial tie-in, of sorts. Seems, too, that SelvaRey rum had a role in the music video of Mars’s “Leave the Door Open” video, as part of his Silk Sonic partnership with Anderson .Paak. …

By the way, Mars continues to ban cell phones at his shows, partly to maintain an orderly performance and also to prevent and curb those YouTube clips of his performances. Yeah, a disappointing nuisance for loyal fans, who truly want a keepsake of the Hawaii-born trouper’s lively presence. …

‘Jersey Boys’ finally opening

After  nearly a three-year delay, “Jersey Boys” will open a two-week run at 7:30 p.m. today (Sept. 13) p.m. at Blaisdell Concert. The production continues through Sept. 25.

The popular Broadway musical is a jukebox filled with signature hits of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, whose biography frames this production. It’s the second of four Broadway in Hawaii attractions.

Lead players, subject to change, are Jon Hacker as Valli, Eric Chambliss as Bob Gaudio, Devon Goffman as Tommy DeVito and Matt Faucher as Nick Massi.

Surely, you know their hits: “Sherry,” “Walk Like a Man,”  “My Eyes Adored You,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Oh What A Night,” “Walk Like A Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “Working My Way Back To You.”

The playdates:

Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 7:30pm

Thursday, Sept.15 at 7:30pm

Friday, Sept. 16 at 8pm

Saturday, Sept. 17 at 2 & 8pm

Sunday, Sept. 18 at 1 & 6:30pm

Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 7:30pm

Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 7:30pm

Thursday, Sept. 22 at 7:30pm

Friday, Sept. 23 at 8pm

Saturday, Sept. 24 at 2 & 8pm

Sunday, Sept. 25 at 1 & 6:30pm

Tickets: www.ticketmaster.com  or the Blaisdell box office; those with previously purchased tickets should visit  ticketmaster.com to confirm the rescheduled show date;  original tickets will be accepted at the  new performance. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Just asking…

If you’re a newspaper subscriber, don’t you find it irritating when the paper isn’t at your doorstep, as expected?

And when you call to report the misstep (or complain), the ritual on the automated phone message is off-putting.

NY Times provides email notice re: missing paper.

My Sunday Star-Advertiser was delivered without a hitch this morn. But my bulky Sunday New York Times, which I subscribe to, was AWOL.

Because the Star-Advertiser oversees the home delivery for my Sunday New York Times, you need to dial circulation to report the problem.

But the set-up only refers to the daily local paper.

So imagine my delight when I received – for the first time in a couple of decades subscribing to the Sunday Times – a helpful email the explained a transportation issue; the edition simply was not in HNL today, so delivery will be tomorrow. (The email is shared here).

Of course, it would be too much to expect from the local guys to provide that kind of premium service, automatically


Keali‘i Reichel will return to the Blue Note Hawaii stage with six shows over four days, at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 17, 6:30 and 9 p.m. Nov. 18 and 19 and 6:30 p.m. Nov. 20.

Reichel is the award-winning Maui-based kumu hula, singer, composer, choreographer, chanter and dancer, known for his traditional Hawaiiana and his creations with a contemporary mele.

Keal’i Reichel

Dancers from his Halau Kealaokamaile hula studio will take the stage, along with guest artists to be announced soon.

With most of Hawaii’s musicians favoring the more intimate venues like Blue Note, anchored at the Outrigger Waikiki resort vs. larger concert spaces, this residency will quickly sell out.

Tickets are $85 and $125, costlier than his previous performances there, but Reichel is noted for including halau dancers in the mix of his classic and newer repertoire.

Reservations: www.bluenotehawaii.com or (808) 777-4890. …

Also at Blue Note

Bandsmen of the distant past continue to give periodic performances, albeit with a nostalgic twist, and two scheduled at Blue Note include:

Danny Seraphine
  • “Take Me Back to Chicago Tour,” featuring musicians from two pop/rock acts of an earlier era. Danny Seraphine, co-founding lead singer and drummer of Chicago, and Jeff Coffey, guitarist during the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), will assemble at 6:30 and 8 p.m. Oct. 8 and 9. Doors open at 5 p.m. (first show) and 8:30 p.m. (second show). Tickets: $25 and $35. Reservations: www.bluenotehawaii.com or (808) 777-4890. …
  • The Commodores, minus Lionel Ritchie, will concertize at 8 pm. Dec. 15 through 18 (doors open at 6 p.m.), with original band members Walter “Clyde” Orange, James Dean “JD” Nicholas and William “WAK” King  recreating the classic bluesy funk and rockaballads of an earlier year. Tickets: $85, $95, $125. Reservations: www.bluenotehawaii.com or (808) 777-4890. …

Here ’n’ there

Out Hilo way, the original musical based on characters and themes from a pair of books by poet Frances Kakugawa’s “Wordsworth” series, has sold out its run of matinee shows for grade school Department of Education students, set for Nov. 1-3 at the theater at the University of Hawaii’s Hilo campus.

The play features a mouse-poet, who advocates creating poetry to get through dark times, and provides valuable insights of life lessons. Kids from kindergarten to fifth grade will be attending, and there is an extensive waiting list not likely to diminish.

So parents with young children may want to consider booking the public performances, at 7 p.m. Nov. 4 and 5 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 6. …

The Annual Celebrities and Their Pets Fashion Show – part of the Young at Heart Expo — will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Blaisdell Center Exhibition Hall. The pets and celebs event will be at noon, with notables strutting with pooches and kitties who’ll be the ones in fashionable costumes. Admission is free. Al Waterson hosts. …

Broadway grosses, week ending Sept. 4

Maybe it’s because of the 76 trombones, or more likely, Hugh Jackman as Prof. Harold Hill in the titular role in “The Music Man,” that keep this one atop the Broadway gross list: it amassed $2.863 million last week.

Other leaders: “Hamilton” with $2.106 million, at No. 2; “MJ –the Michael Jackson Musical,” with  $1.76 million, at No. 3; and   “The Lion King,” with $1.757 million, at No. 4.

The list is courtesy The Broadway League:

And that’s Show Biz. …