Sunday, February 27, 2005


Lani Misalucha's sold-out Honolulu debut with the Society of Society left fans wanting more. The group will perform at Bally's in Las Vegas until at least early next year.

This lady is lucky for
the guys of SOS

There's no girl like a real girl. Lani Misalucha proved the point in her Honolulu debut with the Society of Seven at the Hawaii Theatre Feb. 18. Whether doing impressions (Shania Twain, Barbra Streisand) or singing straight Broadway, opera and pop, Misalucha takes the SOS to places Hawaii has never seen the band go.

On stage

The Society of Seven with Lani Misalucha:

Where: Jubilee Theatre at Bally's, Las Vegas

When: 3 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays; and 8 p.m. Fridays

Admission: $46, includes entertainment tax; no drink minimum

Call: 702-967-4818

The SOS+Lani sold out all four shows and left local fans hungry for more when the "Society of Eight" returned to Las Vegas. A nine-month extension of the group's current contract ensures the super show group will be at the Jubilee Theatre at Bally's until early 2006, at least.

Hawaii has known the SOS for more than 30 years, but Misalucha is quite a find. She satirized the vapid pseudo-seductiveness of Britney Spears perfectly, captured the hip-swaying dance moves that define Beyoncˇ and brought down the house with her impression of Celine Dion. She was equally impressive when she switched from comedy to opera for an exquisite rendition of "Nessun Dorma" from "Turandot" and when she added a brilliant new facet to the SOS's popular staging of "Phantom of the Opera" with a show-stopping treatment of "Think of Me."

SOS veterans Bert Sagum and Gary Bautista also delighted many in the sold-out house with their popular "boys will be girls" material. Sagum came out wearing a showgirl headpiece and giant "breasts" during the group's salute to Las Vegas and returned in similar getup as a Vegas waitress moments later.

Sagum's comic flirting with men in the audience, and his screams of enthusiasm while other group members had the spotlight, are also vintage SOS bits that went over well.

Bautista went further, coming out in full Cher regalia to star opposite Randy Abellar as Sonny. Another segment featured Bautista in his role as the group's top vocal impressionist. A salute to Las Vegas entertainer Danny Gans became the vehicle for Bautista's demonstration of how "The Twelve Days of Christmas" would sound if sung by such celebrities as Paul Anka, Pavarotti and Popeye.

Roy Guerzo distinguished himself with his Sammy Davis Jr. portrayal; Hoku Low did a fine job as Wayne Newton; and Wayne Wakai took the show into the audience with his strolling impression of Kenny G.

SOS leader Tony Ruivivar later asked the audience to imagine Bautista, Sagum and Low naked, with only two pieces of pink cardboard to cover themselves. The SOS's vintage version of the old "fan dance" was choreographed for maximum comic effect and executed perfectly. Sagum, of course, had the most trouble keeping himself "covered," and the crowd loved him.

Bautista displayed his straight side with a powerful interpretation of "Vesti La Giubba" from "E Pagliaccci," and Ruivivar took the lead vocal to cover set changes required for "Phantom." The group's colorful and expansive staging of "The Lion King" -- with masks, costumes and giant animal figures -- was another highlight.

There were subtle bits and pieces for the observant to enjoy as well -- Sagum's panache playing timpani, and the diminutive Guerzo's performance on a giant saxophone -- to name two.

Most important for fans welcoming the SOS back for the weekend was that Misalucha adds to the SOS without diminishing the impact of the guys' performance. It's a great combination.

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