Monday, February 10, 2003


Director James Nakamoto, center, shares a laugh with cast members at an after-school rehearsal in McKinley's auditorium. Since his retirement in 1992, Nakamoto has devoted countless hours to working with students on their annual productions.

A passion for drama

Retired teacher James Nakamoto
helps stage Shakespeare's timeless
love story -- in hip-hop

You asked
About this page
Variety helps students

By Oscar Loui
McKinley High School

Drama, heart-stopping action, singing and dancing will all take place in McKinley's auditorium on Valentine's Day, thanks to the efforts of educator James Nakamoto.

'Romeo & Juliet' shows

The curtain rises at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets will be sold on the day of the performance at the auditorium box office.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students K-12 and people 62 and older. In addition to the three public performances, there will be five performances for students only.

A veteran director and retired drama teacher, Nakamoto has returned once again to lead McKinley's theater group in their latest production. Having taught at McKinley for more than 30 years, he is certainly a familiar sight on campus.

Under his careful guidance and tutelage, the McKinley Theater Group II will present William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" to the public Friday through Sunday. Known as one of the best love tragedies of all time, "Romeo and Juliet" showcases the talents of 17 students.

A hip-hop version of the normally classical style will be sure to appeal to the modern-day audience.

Nakamoto has returned to direct at the school practically every year since retiring in 1992. He does so to share his passion for drama with a new generation.

Current drama teacher John Newkirk says of Nakamoto: "He is always willing to help the students and asks nothing in return. Mr. Nakamoto is an inspiration for all of us, and the quality of our drama productions would not be the same without him."

Auditions open to all McKinley students were held in early November. As students showed their dramatic flair and dancing techniques, the appraising eye of Nakamoto and assistant director Newkirk selected the talented few to become part of the cast.

Potential members received callbacks to better determine the role to which they were best suited.

Being chosen to act in the play was only the first step in an arduous process toward a successful production. Memorizing lines, constructing the set and learning how to sing, dance and sword-fight were all an integral part of this year's production. With the help of the community and McKinley faculty, the play was shaped and formed. Kelly Berry, a graduate student from the University of Hawaii, designed and oversaw construction of the play's setting, the town of Verona. Having worked with Nakamoto on previous shows, Berry accepted his invitation to help re-create the setting of "Romeo and Juliet."

With the gracious help of another UH student, Thomas Morinaka, a series of sword-fighting scenes was choreographed for the production. After going through safety classes for two weeks, the actors learned basic swipes, parries, thrusts and stage combat. The cast members then learned specific fight "phrases" created by Morinaka and his assistants.

For costume construction, Nakamoto enlisted the help of McKinley teachers to sew, design and create costumes for the cast. In charge of the vast undertaking were Jodi Akasaki and Peggy Anderson, who measured each member of the cast and created costumes for each character.

The continued efforts of the community have led to the success of many of McKinley's programs, and this production is no exception. Nakamoto is an invaluable asset, and the production team is fortunate to have the support and guidance of the close-knit McKinley community.

Hopefully, all the students' hard work and dedication will pay off on opening night, as the audience will be greeted with a spectacular production.


You asked

In these pessimistic times of imminent war and strife, what hopes do you still have for the future? What can you still be optimistic about?

Noryn Lau

"I know that I will always have my faith and hope in a better future. Just because we are going to war, we can't drastically change our way of living."

Li-Anne Dela Vega

"We, as Americans, can unite as one and individually, we can strive to make the world a better place. Tomorrow will always be a better day. Can always work towards that."

Sarah Imamoto

"I'm still optimistic about achieving my dreams and being here to be able to experience life's lessons."

Karen Shinkawa

"The sun will still shine, and the rainbows will still come out, so there's always hope and innocence in this world."

Kristine Poentis

"I still have hope because I know that my friends and family will always be there for me."

Shoko Watanabe

"It's like Pandora's box, where it seems like everything is dark and hopeless, but there's always hope, though it may not be seen by the natural eye."

Melissa Ho

"We still have the hope for peace in this world and friendship that will endure past times of fear and concern."

Ani Martirosian

"In these troubled times, I think it is important that we should focus on our friends and families. We should also pray and hope that our government represents us, as the people, as democratically as possible."

Melissa Burkeen

"In the future, I hope that my friends and family will be safe and happy in their lives."

Ann Gottling

"Even though these times may seem depressing and pessimistic, I think it is important to remain optimistic. These troubling times should bring us, especially as a nation, closer together."



About this page

Each week, Hawaii's teenage reporters and photographers tell us about their high school. This week's school is McKinley High School.

Newspaper: The Pinion
Editors: Oscar Loui and Zachary Morita
Faculty adviser: John Newkirk
Next week: Maryknoll School

Fast facts

Location: 1039 S. King St., Honolulu, 96814
Phone number: 594-0400
Mascot: Tiger
Colors: Black and gold
Principal: Milton Shishido
Students: 1,735

Traditions of note

As early as 1920, students have been singing "Black and Gold" at football games and pep rallies in support of the players. Not only does the linking of hands during the song foster respect, pride and hope for the teams, but it also creates a bond of unity among students, faculty and parents.

In 1920 the Pinion became the first newspaper to be produced by a journalism class in Hawaii. Other long-standing establishments include the Black and Gold yearbook, which dates back to 1906, and the JROTC, which was founded here in 1920.

McKinley students, faculty and staff annually celebrate Black and Gold week in January, around the time of President McKinley's birthday, by washing his statue, which stands on the front oval. It is also a tradition to keep off the oval at all times. At the annual commencement exercises, however, the graduating class is permitted to place marigold leis on the statue during the traditional Vesper Commencement Service. The graduating seniors then walk across the oval -- symbolic of their departure from their alma mater.

McKinley High School staff

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