Kudos to playwright Lee Cataluna, who has taken a huge leap in her prolific career, and applause, too,  to the New York Times to recognize and spotlight her journey as a storyteller in a community far, far away from her island roots.

Cataluna, a former journalist for the Honolulu Advertiser and now a columnist for Civil Beat,  was interviewed by NYT reporter Laura Graeber, in an article published Oct. 4, that explores her storytelling skills.  Cataluna’s latest play, “Heart Strings,” is in production through Oct. 23 at the Linda Gross Theater in Chelsea. It is being produced by  Atlantic Theater Company as the initial Atlantic for Kids production since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

It’s quite an achievement for Cataluna to take her play beyond the reef and across the continent. It’s also a moment for the state to support her mission — and others in her footsteps — to bring island themes and tales for audiences elsewhere to enjoy and discover.

Lee Cataluna

At a time when even the Honolulu media shamefully does not acknowledge or write about local playwrights launching a play with clear Hawaiian roots, it’s  an astonishing accomplishment for Cataluna to attract a New York group to stage the world premiere  of “Heart Strings.”

The thread throughout her play focuses on hei, the centuries-old small-kid-time game, where a simple string or cord is the centerpiece, and game-players use their fingers to create varying triangles or rectangles and players delicately transfer the network of loops to each other. You might remember it as “Cat’s Cradle,” which has also been the name for this string game.

 And, natch, batteries are not required. Simple idea, with historical roots, about everyday events or relationships, is at the core of Cataluna’s plays. Think “Folks You Meet at Long’s,” “Musubi Man,” “Home of the Brave,” “You Somebody,” “Flowers of Hawaii,” and “Extraordinary Stories for Ordinary Ohana.” Locally, her works have been staged by Kumu Kahua, Honolulu Theatre of Youth and Diamond Head Theatre. …

“Heart Strings” was intended to be staged by Iolani School actors (Cataluna previously taught there; her son remains a student there), but plans changed because of the pandemic. Who knew New York would kick off a Hawaii play? Like Kumu Kahua on steroids!

I recall when Cataluna was researching this play, seeking  how-to’s of hei via Facebook. Not surprising, she got the job done — with no strings attached. She’s opened the doors for other island playwrights to attempt to get their works noticed and produced beyond the seas. …

Bruno Mars

A heavenly milestone for Bruno

So maybe now is a good time to talk about Bruno. You know, Bruno Mars, not the “Encanto” Disney Bruno.

Our local superstar now has six Diamond Single Awards, the first pop star to achieve this status. His “Locked Out of  Heaven” tune has been certified Diamond, by RIAA’s Gold and Platinum Program. His earlier five Diamond hits are “Just the Way You Are,” “Grenade,” “When I Was Your Man,” “That’s What I Like,” and the collaborative “Uptown Funk” with Mark Ronson.

Way to go, Bruno! …

Sunday Manoa

Manoa Marketplace (rear area, beyond Safeway but not blocking Long’s) is undergoing renovations, so there are some concerns behind the boarded eateries and shops. I dined at Paisano one night, before taking in “Cabaret,” and navigating to the Italian restaurant was a challenge.

So folks thinking of going to Medici’s on the second floor, where the Tommy James Trio (with Dave Bixler and Dean Taba) perform on Sunday (Oct. 9), should anticipate a bit of a maze to get to the club; doors open at 5 p.m., show at 6:30 p.m.

Tommy James

And an update: Medici’s earlier raised its dinner-and-show prices to $75 (I had bought tickets at that price, for a postponed Shari Lynn Trio show), with meals served by waitstaff. But the return of the buffet brings down the price to $59 (partly because of patron outcries and perhaps a drop in attendees), with reimbursements to be made at the door, according to the Medici’s website. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


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