Befuddled by the ongoing COVID-19 and Omicron variant, Hawaii’s two largest theater groups are grappling with how best to move on while being cognizant of the surge in cases and the state’s unchanged protocols.

An if/when attitude seems to prevail at both Diamond Head Theatre, Honolulu’s largest producer of shows and often dubbed the Broadway of the Pacific, and Manoa Valley Theatre, considered as Hawaii’s off-Broadway playhouse. They are hoping for the best but bracing for the worst.

Diamond Head Theatre has cast its “Steel Magnolias” production, set for a run from Feb. 4 to 20. But it hasn’t begun rehearsals because of the pandemic cloud.

Manoa Valley Theatre, also hoping to launch its much-delayed “Desperate Measures” for a run Jan. 13 to 30, has less prep time to kick off this one, but at least has one positive: there will be a playbill once the show opens.

Both groups had abandoned the customary playbill, handed out to patrons, that lists cast, tech crew, and other creators of their shows. Aside from cost factors, the iffiness of the most recent shows at both camps placed the playbill low in the priority list, though online versions were available but not easy to find or download.

“”We are moving forward, in so far as seats are on sale on the website, but not publicizing it,” said Deena Dray, DHT executive director. “Rehearsals not yet started, due to Christmas. Very much still huddling here.”

MVT publicist Kristin Jackson, speaking for Kip Wilborn, MVT executive director, said MVT “will be following the guidance of the Office of the Governor and the Mayor’s office, in terms of capacity and social distancing protocols. Our plan is to move forward as though additional regulations are not imminent but will certainly address them if/when they happen.”

Tickets are available for purchase online, but social distancing – which plagued both companies, affecting revenues with half-house  attendance —  so if “normal” sell-to-fill policies remain, there’s a possibility that seating complexities would be a headache if health protocols are tightened. Face masks will be required, along with proof of vaccinations, along with a photo ID.

So: it looks like the situation remains fluid and could either be a boon, if “normal” seating resumes, or a bust, if the surge of the pandemic continues, necessitating a Plan B. …

Meanwhile, COVID continues

Roslyn Catracchia

Roslyn Catracchia, the musician-composer, posted online that she “got COVID for Christmas.” Not a serious case, apparently, and she’s on the mend. The c-bug “made me smile these past nine days …but this got me laughing out loud today.” Sounds like she’ll conquor the pandemic and be at her usual jovial best before New Year’s. …

The Green has had to cancel its New Year’s Eve festivities at Blue Note Hawaii this weekend, because members were tested positive for COVID. Details are not known, but the group’s Dec. 29 through Jan. 2 gig has been postponed till March 3 to 7, with original ticket purchases being honored for the rescheduled dates. …

A tutu take on Christmas rhyme

Sheila Black

We’ve got to share this delighful spin-off of “The Night Before Christmas,” delivered in costume with perfect local-lingo cadence, by Sheila Black, a resident at Arcadia. As a Christmas gift to her fellow Arcadians, Sheila – in the guise of Tutu Eleele – shares the oft-parodied night-before rhyme with impeccable charm.

If you’ve attended one of those “Follies” productions during the decade-plus run at the retirement residence, you’ll remember Black as the diminutive one with great comedic timing and dancing skills. In these shows, the lyrics were lip-synched; in her Christmas pose, it’s her voice, her live delivery, her charm.

See it here:

And that’s Show Biz. …


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