An oddity, “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940,” is neither a full-fledged musical nor a riotous comedy, though there are brief tuneful segments and a mix of laugher, amid a series of murders.

The whodunnit, playing at the Diamond Head Theatre, is actually quite charming. Actors eager to audition for a show (a musical, natch), along with a dancer, a singer and a comedian, who are seeking employment, so they assemble at the mansion of Elsa Von Grossenknueten (Lisa Konove, flamboyantly brilliant and in her prime) in Chappaqua, New York. The time is midnight (of course), at the height of a chilling snowfall (another of course). The theatrical figures hope wealthy Elsa will bankroll the musical, or so is the premise.

In actually, the estate is where three dancers were previously murdered by an unknown slasher, and a policeman, Michael Kelly (Michael Abdo, sleek in his sleuthing) is among the invitees and believes the slasher also is among the party guests. So everyone is a suspect;  or dead serious. a forthcoming victim.

The play, by John Bishop, is set in December, 1940, and opens with the murder of Elsa’s maid Helsa Wenzel (Brianna Johnston, fittingly domestic, who comes to life again, which viewers later learn how).  The slasher claims several more victims, terrifying the survivors, who are stuck in the snowstorm and the expected happens: the lights go out,  meaning more murders when they go on again.

The motley crew includes the singer, Patrick O’Reilly (Christopher Denton); the dancer, Nikki Crandall (Emily Lane); the comic Eddie McCuen (David Samsel),  a director Ken De La Maize( Lee Nebe); and a writing team comprising Roger Hopewell (Andrew Simmons) and Bernice Roth (Betty Bolton). They’re all wary of the lurking mayhem, beginning with the demise of Elsa’s friend, Marjorie Baverstock (Heather Taylor).

“Musical Comedy” cast: seated front, Lisa Konove, Michael Abdo and Heather Taylor; rear, from left, David Samsel, Emily Lane, Brianna Johnston, Christoper Denton, Andrew Simmons, Betty Bolton and Lee Nebe. — Brandon Miyagi photo, courtesy DHT.

An ensemble show, the cast builds chemistry with shared fear and mutual concerns about who is the killer. Frequent hilarity lessens the intensity of emotions in this kind of murder mysteries, and director John Rampage maintains a cadence of fright and laughs. Actress Konove, a veteran of many dramatic and comedic shows in the past, is in her element in this one, clad in flowing, elegant and colorful gowns created with authority by Emily Lane (doubling as a cast member), with Aiko Schick’s hair and makeup designs contributing to the era of the ‘40s.

A star is born, in set designer Randy Tandal’s auspicious debut as a stage designer, whose maginificent single-set spectacle is efficient and functional, with book shelves that spin to hide, then display, a hidden passageway. The one-view spectrum includes handsome doorways for entrances and exits, plus a clothes closet which conceals a body and also displays wardrobe. There are eye-filling gems including artwork on the walls and working lamps, working in sync with prop designer Travis O. Asaeli’s contributions – a desk, a comfy armchair, and a faux grand piano.

At long last, DHT has come of age, marking the first anniversary of the new theater with a set (finally) that demonstrates and reflects the magic of stagecraft. Clearly, greatness sprouts with time and talent. This set — and its creator — are winners! No set pieces to roll on and off stage; nothing to descend from the overhead fly space. What you see is what you get–excellence.


“The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940”

A play by John Bishop, about theatrical types gathering at a mansion, where murder is on the menu and a snowstorm prevents an escape

Where: Diamond Head Theatre

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; also at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays, through Feb. 18; extension playdates, 7:30 p.m. Feb.23 and 3 p.m. Feb. 24

Tickets: $37 to $62, at or (808) 733-0274

And that’s Show Biz…


Bruno Mars, barkeep?

Hawaii’s superstar, a big draw as a showroom star in Las Vegas, is the barkeep of The Pinky Ring, a ritzy new lounge at the Bellagio resort on the strip on Monday (Feb. 12).

To elevate the opening night, Mars’ long-time band, The Hooligans, will be the resident band for two weeks only. Hmmmm, would Mars take a mike, to share his uptown funk moves, at The Pinky Ring?

“I’ve been performing in Vegas for years, and I’ve always wanted a place where I could throw glamorous parties when I’m in town,” Mars (pictured) said when the project plans first were announced.
“A place that felt like my personal penthouse suite, with live music and sensational cocktails. The Pinky Ring is that,” he said.

The Pinky Ring is located on Bellagio’s casino floor  where Lily Bar & Lounge once occupied.

Hours will be from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.  Entertainment will include all kinds of music…

Two more restaurant closures

Sorry to report the upcoming closures of two restaurants.

Paisano, the popular Italian restaurant at Manoa Marketplace, will be shutting down Feb. 17 after 32 years. For theater goers like me, who usually dined there before a Manoa Valley Theatre show, Paisano was a tradition for a hearty, delish dinner before theater. Yes, there are a few other restaurants at the marketplace, but none with the quality of food and swiftness of service. The closure is due to issues with the owner’s health, since no one is able to take over the operations.

Haili’s Hawaiian Food, a popular dine-in, take-out restaurant in Kapahulu, will close in June. Other details are not known…

Super troupers

This is Super Bowl weekend, with Usher (pictured0 headling the halftime show on Sunday, when Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs take on Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers.

To me, Bruno Mars staged the best, most entertaining and cohesive show, with only his band, The Hooligans, pumping up the pulse. No backup singers, no chorus of hoofers, no assembly of marchers/dancers to fill the field and/or multiple stages. And no aerial entrance. or animal prop to trot in. No need. Just Bruno.

So who drew the largest at-home TV audiences at earlier Super Bowls?

The Top 10, with year and viewership:

1—Rihanna, 2023, 121.017 million

2 —Katy Perry, 2015, 121 million.

3–Lady Gaga, 2017,  117.5 million.

4—Coldplay, 2016, 115.5 million.

5–Bruno Mars, 2014,  115.3 million.

6–Madonna, 2012, 114 million.

7–Beyoncé, 2013, 110.8 million.

8– Black Eyed Peas, 2011, 110.2 million.

9–Justin Timberlake, 2018, . 106.6 million.

10—Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, 104 million.

It’s a coveted gig, and only elitist acts get invited to do the party. They’re’s no paycheck for this honor, only the joy of publicity and viewership…

‘Lion King’ back to No.. 1 on Broadway

On Broadway, “The Lion King” has roared back to reclaim No. 1 on the list of grosses:

1 – “The Lion King,” $1,666 million.
2—“Hamilton,” $1,656 million.

3— “Wicked,” $1,602 million

4 — “Merrily We Roll Along,” $1,517 million.

5 —  “MJ The Musical,” $1,317 million.

6 – “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” $1,517 million.

7—“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” $1,113 million.

8 – “Aladdin,” $1,068 million.
9 – “& Juliet,” $1,o10 million.

10—”Back to the Future: The Musical,” $953,000.

And here’s the complete rundown of shows and grosses, courtesy The Broadway Guild:

And that’s Show Biz…


Heavenly, the new restaurant in Hawaii Kai, will open for weekend dinners – Fridays through Sundays – beginning this Friday (Feb. 9).

The swanky, healthy-dining eatery on the marina at the Koko Marina Shopping Center, will take reservations with seating beginning at 5 p.m.

Heavenly has been open only for breakfast and lunch, from 7 a.m. daily, and its unique seating — with regular tables in the front half of the restaurant, and comfy, unusual sofa and cozy chairs in the zone fronting the marina — has been a hit.

I popped in for breakfast this morning – my second –following an early doctor’s visit at 7 a.m. —  and was surprised the long lines weren’t there today. Since my Jan. 5 surgery to remove my problematic gall bladder, I’ve been gradually consuming appetizing meals like Heavenly’s egg benedict, with choice of salmon or Canadian bacon, beneath the poached egg. ‘Twas my first reintroduction to eggs and boy, was it yummy, with hollandaise sauce with lilikoi butter, three fingers of Okinawan potato, and salmon. A small kale salad was included, it’s not my choice salad greens.

My earlier visit, before my surgery, was a sensible pancake duo with berries and a splendid homemade syrup. I would have had this again but opted for something new.

The restaurant is gorgeous if you’re seating facing the marina; the view is spectacular, and with sliding glass windows fully open, it feels like you’re dining at a waterfront resort with real palms and vine as part of the charm. The near hour I spent at breakfast, there were no pesky flies.

The décor, with a surfboard on one wall, reflects a  lifestyle of a surfer. Indeed, a surfer opened the first Heavenly in Waikiki in 2014 and a decade later, Hawaii Kai is blessed with this second option from Zetten Inc., Japanese owners who operate six other restaurants in Waikiki.

I had a peek at the dinner menu for the Hawaii Kai restaurant, and the offerings will range from steak to lamp chops to mahimahi, cold and hot tapas including lettuce wraps and jumbo shrimp cocktail to fried Takoyaki to Kauai garlic shrimp, fish and shrimp tacos to Koko Head loco moco, and custard pudding ala mode to itoen matcha tiramisu, and special drinks such as smoothies, lemonade, fruit drinks and special coffee drinks. For now, however, not all items on the menu will be immediately available.

Can’t wait to have a dinner experience here; it took Heavenly like a year and a half (perhaps longer) to finally open at its location next to the reopened Assaggio, and it should be a greater neighbor.

Moena Cafe, the upscale breakfast place, may have lost some customers with Heavenly just a few doors down. Its major nighttime competition might be Roy’s Restaurant at the Hawaii Kai Towne Center on Kalanianaole Highway, but hey, all restaurants have their devoted following based on cuisine.


Veteran island entertainers Gail Mack and Brickwood Galuteria have collaborated on a melodic and charming mele entitled “My Tūtū and Me,” which is an homage to the bond between kūpuna and their moʻopuna.

Kūpuna, Hawaiian for grandparents, often are domestic first-responders, caring for their moʻopuna, Hawaiian for grandchildren. In many homes and lives, there’s customarily a warm bond between grandpa and/or grandma and the grandkids, so this song magnifies the magical relationship between elders and keiki.

Galuteria (pictured left) currently  a trustee with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, composed “My Tūtū and Me,” which he produced with Kūpuna Power. Galuteria has been a long-time radio and television personality, a musician, a songwriter, and a former state senator.

“My Tūtū and Me,” featuring the voice of Mack (pictured right) was inspired by the Partners in Development Foundation’s “Tūtū and Me” traveling school. Mack is widely known as a member of George Street, and is annually heard on radio performing her yuletide hit, “

“Christmas Once More in Hawaii.”

“Grandparents offer their grandchildren love, acceptance, patience, stability, wisdom, fun, and support, which positively affects a child’s well-being,” said Galuteria. “This song is dedicated to grandparents and grandchildren throughout Hawaii and beyond.”

The special relationship between grandparents and grandchildren “is like a beautiful friendship that defies age and generations,” said Galuteria.

Mack added, “It’s such a nice message and for  a good cause.”  

“The sacred connection between kūpuna and moʻopuna is a gift that brings so much joy and insight to both young and old, creating heartfelt memories that last a lifetime,” said Shawn Kanaʻiaupuni, who is president and CEO of Partners in Development Foundation.
Clearly, the new song likely will connect and reverberate  with preschoolers impacted by the ongoing work of the foundation.

Sheet music of “Tūtū and Me” song and lyrics.

The Tūtū and Me Traveling Preschool serves Native Hawaiian families with keiki ages from birth to age 5 in underserved communities on the five major islands of Hawaii. The program strives to meet a family’s educational and emotional needs so keiki will enter school ready to learn and succeed.

“It’s such a nice message and for a good cause,” said Mack of the music and the mission of the foundation.

It’s also the perfect song for Grandparents Day, which is Sept. 8 this year.

Mack, who has been performing at Mango Street Grill in Wahiawa with Gordon Kim, reports that after 43 years together, Kim has retired from live performances. “He’s had problems with arthritis in his fingers for a while and feels he can’t play his guitar up to the standards he would like.”

Kim bowed out in December but plans to continue writing music. “Very sad for me,” said Mack…

And that’s Show Biz…