KEALA SETTLE JOINS ‘WICKED’ FILM

Great to learn that some of our Hawaii-reared talent are finding their way to the big screen.

No, not referring to the likes of Jason Momoa and Dwayne Johnson. They are in their own league, with signature projects under way.

Talking about the likes of Keala Settle, who will play Miss Coddle in the Jon M. Chu-directed movie version of “Wicked.” You know Settle best as the former Kahuku actress who famously portrayed the Bearded Woman in Hugh Jackson’s mega-hit musical, “The Greatest

Keala Settle

Showman,” in which Settle might have been a sideshow attraction but wound up performing and scoring a huge musical hit, “This Is Me.”

Headliners in this Broadway-to-cinema transition of “Wicked” will be the earlier announced Cynthia Ervo and Ariana Grande, who will take over the leads of Elphaba (The Wicked Witch of the West) originated by Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth (Glinda the Witch of the South), respectively. “Wicked” (the movie) also will bring together Michelle Yeoh as Madame Morrible, Jonathan Bailey as Fiyero, Jeff Goldblum as The Wizard, Ethan Slater as Boq, Marissa Bode as Nessarose, and Bowen Yang as Pfannee.

Director Chu, who  helmed Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” in its film incarnation, has expressed an opinion that “Wicked” ran 2 hours and 45 minutes as a Broadway show, but opined on Twitter that “it would be impossible to wrestle the story of ‘Wicked’ in a single film without doing some real damage to it.” Omitting or trimming tunes or character roles felt like fatal compromises to the original sources, and composer Stephen Schwartz seconded the motion. Thus, a two-parter is in the works and composer Schwartz has agreed that Act 1 will conclude with “Defying Gravity,” and he will write a new original addition to the flick version, as reported in Variety. “Wicked Part 1” is due to be released  by Universal on Dec. 25, 2024, and “Wicked Part 2” will follow on Dec. 25, 2025. Talk about a multi-Christmas present. …

Auli’i Cravalho

Elsewhere,  Auli‘i  Cravalho, who voiced Moana in Disney’s “Moana” animated film, has been cast in the forthcoming Paramount+ film version of “Mean Girls,” which will be directed by Arturo Perez and Samantha Jayne. Cravalho will portray Janis, with Renee Rapp reprising her role as  Regina George (she did it on Broadway), Angourie Rice as Cady, and Jaquel Spivey as Damian in other key roles…

Still strumming and teaching

The annual Ukulele Festival no longer is in founder Roy Sakuma’s rear view mirror. He’s moved on.

Roy Sakuma

“Boy, how times have changed,” he said in an email. “ I am still teaching (mostly on Zoom) but do go to the studio on Wednesday mornings to teach.  It’s still a lot of fun to teach.”

Of course, the folks love him since he’s a jovial sort, with not just teaching skills, but with memories to share.

Meanwhile, wife Kathy still has been busy running the studio. Almost like a mom-and-pop operation, like the good  ol’ days. …

And that’s Show Biz. …

IS HONESTY STILL ALIVE IN THE WORLD?

Just asking…

Is there still a lot of honesty in the world today?

My answer — based on personal experience — is an emphatic yes.

In the past month, I dropped (lost) a couple of credit cards and my driver’s license.

The first time was at the Safeway check-out in Hawaii Kai a couple of weeks back. Picked up a card, but not my license. I learned the license was missing when I had a one-night staycation in Waikiki; at check-in, no license. Needed a card with a photo … and fortunately, one credit had an image. When I called Safeway in Hawaii Kai, was told that my lost cards were turned in and in a safe, awaiting my inquiry.

The second instance was yesterday; was shopping at Marshalls at Ala Moana Center. Used a credit card for payment; but a few cards slipped out of my wallet without my knowledge. Backtracking, figured the only time I used plastic was yesterday. So called the store; was told the cards were found, and was able to retrieve them after dinner last night since the store was open till 11 p.m.

Clearly, I need to be more cautious and diligent in monitoring my cards. First time that I’ve had these issues. Happily, there’s a burst of honesty about some folks, for which I will be eternally grateful.

A footnote: I got a notice from one of my cards about a suspicious charge of more than $600 for a hotel stay that wasn’t mine. So that card was deemed invalid and I’m awaiting a replacement next week.

Like

Comment

Share

YULETIDE WITH HYBRID GROUP MAKENA

Makena, the splendid hybrid group comprising members of The Makaha Sons and Ho‘okena, staged two performances at Blue Note Hawaii yesterday (Dec. 11) at the Outrigger Waikiki resort.

The clever fusion of two prolific and popular Hawaiian acts – the “Ma,” for the Makaha guys Louis “Moon” Kauakahi and Eric Lee, and “kena” for Ho‘okena’s  Horace Dudoit III, Chris Kamaka, and Glenn Smith – has resulted in an entity with impeccable harmonies and flashy guitar and fiddle bass dynamics. Wow!

With Ho‘okena’s hula dancer, kumu Nani Dudoit, providing elegant, exquisite dances, the Hawaiiana forces are formidable.  She’s also singing now, adding new dimension to the act.

I took in the second show and it was a rouser, with generous  island melodics and a dash of Christmas favorites, perfect for the season.

Nani and Horace Dudoit: She now sings, too..

The magic began with cheerfully curated yuletide numbers, “Home for the Holidays” and a medley of “Christmas in Hawaii Nei” and “Mele Kalikimaka Ia Kakou,” which smoothly expressed the spirit of the season.

Chris Kamaka

Then came a nostalgic and nuanced medley, from the archives of The Makaha Sons of Ni‘ihau (the original act, with the regional name) recreated from a live show, themed “Makaha Bash,” at the Waikiki Shell. A sizzler!

With wisdom and wonderment from the two camps, Makena is a lingering marvel and invention. One of The Makaha Sons’ signatures – famously sung by the late Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole at a previous Na Hoku Hanohano Awards show, but struggling because he forgot the lyrics – and the moment of aloha came when the estranged Kauakahi and his singing bros took the stage to join and “rescue” Bruddah Iz on “Kaleohano,” a treasure in the Sons’ music box forever.

Glenn Smith

The newish twinkle in Ho‘okena’s repertoire is Nani (Horace’s spouse) joining Makena on “Nou e Pauahi,” and she shared her powerful soprano voice with joyful confidence, earning applause from the audience and smiles from the musician singers. Of course, her periodic hula interpretations added grace and glamor to the evening.

Additional Christmas treats included “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” an ensemble effort, and Lee’s lead voice commanding “What Child Is This.”

Eric Lee

Ho‘okena’s annual holiday ditty — Kui Lee’s “The Song of Christmas” — happily is shared with Horace’s back-in-the-day story/attempt to listen to the tune and write down the lyrics. He was confounded with the phrase, “Aurora Borealis,” the majestic night lights in the skies, garbling up his original notations with non-sensible lyrics. Nani also had to make-up moves, now altered, when nature’s wonder is sung. ‘Tis the best chuckle of the season.

Louis “Moon” Kauakahi

The show had its oddity,  the inclusion of a budding Waimea (Big Island) couple, Kala‘e and Kalenau. Both sing; he strums guitar, she’s on the synthesizer. Their moments on an original, “We Are a Voice” and “O Holy Night,” the latter in English and in Hawaiian, lacked the chemistry or musicality to match the high bar of talent on stage. It’s wonderful to introduce new talent, but the duo, with pitch issues, seemed like auditioners on “American Idol.”

She redeemed herself a skosh on “The Prayer,” the Ho‘okena holiday hit with English and Hawaiian lyrics, since Maila Gibson has exited the entertainment realm in favor of real estate. …

And that’s Show Biz. …

DELIMA DEBUTS ‘BLUE CHRISTMAS’ PARODY

Comedian Frank DeLima’s Christmas gift to fans and followers is a parody of the yuletide classic, “Blue Christmas.”

In his treatment, DeLima moans and groans – like most of us – about the prevailing inflation that affects every aspect of life. Eating – brunch, to cut out one meal. Shopping – a single banana, instead of the whole bunch. Commuting – selling his Caddy because of gas prices.

Of course, he groans In his own inimitable manner. In pidgin. This time, in his video, a companion – a sock puppet.

“Blue Christmas” sounds like a new song, with his new lyrics:

Frank DeLima and sock puppet pal.

“Ima havin’ a Blue Christmas

“Inflation

“Hamburgah price outrageous

“Inflation

“Thanksgiving dinna set me back

“I gotta sell my Caddalac

“My money…no can go as far…”

To download the parody, go to www.frankdelima.com and make a donation to his Frank DeLima Enrichment Program to support his tour of inspirational tours of local schools.

The video also is posted on my Facebook page.

DeLima will premiere this parody at his holiday brunch show, at 12:30 a.m. today (Dec. 11) at Blue Note Hawaii, at the Outrigger Waikiki resort. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. (Blue Note announced the time changes earlier this morning).

Tickets: www.bluenotehawaii.com.

And that’s Show Biz. …

‘ALMOST’ NEARLY A CHRISTMAS CHARMER

“Almost,” which means “not quite” or “nearly,” is an operative word in describing “The Year Christmas Was Almost Cancelled.”

It’s a holiday musical, which opened last night (Dec. 3) at Mamiya Theatre at St. Louis School/Chaminade College, and runs Fridays through Sundays through Dec. 18 as the lone family-friendly theatrical show in Honolulu this Christmas.

It is the premiere endeavor for Mo‘olelo Studios, and it’s almost certainly won’t be its last.

Adoringly written and directed by Kyle Kakuno with a delightful and charming score by Roslyn Catracchia, they also collaborated on the lyrics for the 10 assembled songs.

It’s a big little show, brimming with goodwill and tidings of the season, with potential to prevail as a future or returnee. It’s almost but not quite perfect.

The threat of a no-Christmas agenda emerges when Santa Claus (Matthew Pedersen, delightful with a commanding presence) discovers that he is ill and “burned out,” because of the pace and stress of the yuletide. Mrs. Claus (Callie Doan, comforting and forthright) summons a doctor (Jantzen Shinmoto) to assess the wellness of the man in the red suit. The analysis: Santa needs three months off to rest and recuperate, meaning there could be no Christmas just days ahead.

This is where the “almost” comes in. Santa’s workshop is filled with elves young and older, all concerned about the jolly one’s health and the dilemma of skipping Christmas. These elves are effusive, almost always singing and dancing with good cheer. There almost seems to be a scene missing, where elves help Santa with toy-making to fill his bag for delivery. The production lacks that holidaze hustle-and-bustle within the workshop.

The playbill for “The Year Christmas Was Almost Cancelled.”

Not that the elves aren’t helping Santa. They make hot chocolate and bake gingerbread cookies, like a kitchen squad,  supported by theme-specific tunes, “There’s Something About Hot Chocolate” and “Gingerbread Cookies.”

Can’t argue about the singing; the cast boasts expressive, impressive voices that underscore the excitement about providing nourishment for ill Santa. While Alexandria Zinov’s choreography is brisk and fills the stage, it doesn’t jingle with the Christmas spirit.

The ranks are filled with sweet and lively elves, with fairy tale names like Shinny (Poasa Aga), Gander (Christopher Casupang), Bushy (Samuel Tafolo), Alabaster (Sanoe Harris), Pepper  (Isaiah Castillo), Wunorse (La Faamausili-Siliato) and Sugarplum (Ka‘iulani Iaea), with their nationalities clearly reflecting diverse casting.

Catracchia’s songs like “I Believe in You” (sung by Iaea and Casupang) and “Christmas Magic” (rendered by Harris and Faamausili-Siliato and the elves) properly uphold the season’s messages and tidings. The merriment is perfect, not almost.

As the Narrator, Isaac Kapono Chock shares a welcoming spirit and presence, from his perch next to a Letters-to-Santa mailbox.

Now here’s a minor quibble, almost like a half-cup full, half-cup empty matter on whether Christmas is cancelled or not. It depends on where you are in the world– in Santa’s onstage workshop home or elsewhere around the world.

The bottom-line theme — that wellness and good health are equally important in your life — resonates with a feel-good aura. Almost makes you want to sing your favorite Christmas carol.

Hearty kudos to the production team. There’s periodic snow falling in the show, and Santa gets aboard his red sleigh (looks like Rudolph’s on sick leave) and the sleigh takes flight as the curtain falls. And that handy-dandy playbill listing cast and credits, is joyful and triumphant, a keepsake for the cast ensemble for years to come. The producers do everything right here.

Tip: After you exit, kids may take photos with Santa in the theater lobby; outside in the courtyard, there’s a free snowflake light show (nighttime) and more faux snow, plus hot cocoa with marshmallows (yummy!), gingerbread cookies and s’mores kits for purchase, for a merry show extra.

 *.  *   *


“The Year Christmas Was Almost Cancelled”


Showtimes: 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 6 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 18.

Tickets: $20 for adults, $15 for students, at www.moolelostudios.com
extra.

 *.  *   *

And that’s Show Biz. …