What the Heck?
COURTESY OF HEARTBEAT
Dennis Law's "Heartbeat" production, featuring Chinese dancers and drummers, is showing at the Blaisdell Concert Hall.
Chinese dancers drum up Blaisdell business
Bang a Gong:
Backstage at the Blaisdell, Dennis Law sits on a battered couch, while his elaborately costumed, or sometimes half-costumed, Chinese dancers sneak out the back door to have a cigarette.
"Chinese culture has been repressed for 125 years, first by the Western powers, then by the Communists," he says. "I want to repackage it and bring it to the world."
Law grew up in Hong Kong, was educated in America and became a prominent Denver surgeon. He retired five years ago to become a cultural impresario. He now has his own theater in Vancouver, a troupe of 80 Chinese dancers and several touring productions, including "Heartbeat," which continues at the Concert Hall from Wednesday to Saturday.
The show? Go late. The first act gets off to a slow start, but by the second, it's likely to bounce you out of your seat. The orchestra is mainly a half-dozen drummers. The visuals are stunning. The dancers have quite a bit of Bruce Lee in them. By the end, people were cheering.
Last Wednesday, caught the last of comedian Augie Tulba's Esprit Lounge shows, which have -- shock -- been drawing local audiences to Waikiki. So familiar is Augie's repertoire that the audience was calling for routines by name: "Do the Half Lady! Do your Gay Son!"
So Tulba's taking a break until his May 25 Blaisdell concert, penning some new material.
Don't expect him to disappear. Tulba's morning radio show, done from a makeshift studio in his Ewa Beach living room, is already on Kauai and Maui stations, the Maui station also reaching most of the Big Island.
Tulba's not talking about this, because it's supposed to be a secret: Sometime next month, expect his show to begin airing on Molokai. Why Molokai? Because a 10,000-watt station there can reach most of Oahu, making Tulba the first radio personality to go statewide.
After weekend anchor Diane Ako signed off the air last Sunday night, her producers, Courtney Kono at KFVE and Nicole Laprade at KHNL, came up to her with a situation they didn't know how to handle. Viewers were calling in, asking if she was pregnant.
"I didn't think I was showing, at least not head-on," says Ako. It's true: She and husband Claus Hansen are infanticipating in June, their first.
Catch a Wave: Reading a New Yorker article on the competitive world of Bible publishing, I discovered that next April you'll be able to buy a "Soul Surfer" Bible by Bethany Hamilton, the Hawaii teen who lost an arm to a shark in 2003.
The cover will feature waves made from glitter. In addition to Bethany's devotional guides, the $19.99 Bible will contain surfing tips, diagrams and a glossary of surf slang.
Hall Pass: Hawaiian Hall at the Bishop Museum is spookier than usual these days, especially in the dark. The elderly basalt edifice, built in three stages between 1889 and 1905, is gutted, dusty, filled with scaffolding, with temporary, uneven plywood floors. Its only inhabitant is the sperm whale skeleton, with its papier-mâché body, too large to move, still hanging from the ceiling.
The courtyard, once a sort of oasis behind the building, is now filled with construction equipment. It will become a new glassed-in elevator court. The building, which didn't even have electricity until the 1960s, has never had an elevator because, ahem, the floors of the three stages never quite matched up. Now, visitors will be able to get to all parts of the building easily.
Last Tuesday, the Bishop Museum threw a party to celebrate the hall's $16 million renovation, scheduled for completion in 2008. And to introduce consultant Ralph Appelbaum, who in his expensive gray tweed suit and full beard looked every inch America's most distinguished museum exhibit designer. Appelbaum, who's designed everything from the Holocaust Museum to the Clinton Library, will help rework Hawaiian Hall so it's less dark and dismal and tells a better story with its artifacts.
"There are 35,000 museums in the world," says Appelbaum. "Only this one can present a comprehensive view of Hawaiian culture, interpreted by Hawaiians. This building has not been a happy home for the materials, and we're going to make it one."
Put it in your CD player, and suddenly it's 1966 again. Peter Apo, director of culture and education for the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, has released a CD called "My Back Pages: The Folk Years."
It's all '60s folk music -- songs from the Youngbloods, Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Dylan. One local reviewer pointed out such an album is "of limited interest."
Perhaps to everyone except Apo, who toured nationally with the Elektra Records folk trio Travelers 3 from 1960 to '69. It's an unlikely project, he admits: "I've reached the point in my life when I'm not doing it for the money, when I'm well past the fantasy that I'm going to be a star. Which leaves me totally free to do something I love." It's the first of four planned CDs.
Spirit of Christmas: For 27 years, paralegal Barbara Ritchie has led a group of Christmas carolers up and down the halls at the Queen's Medical Center, bringing patients and their families a bit of Christmas cheer.
Last Wednesday, 40 people gathered in the lobby, waiting for Ritchie to show up with the songbooks. She was uncharacteristically late. But it was only an hour later, when a patient requested "Silent Night," that Ritchie's tears began to fall. Quietly, she confided that her good friend had just died that afternoon.
Knowing both the patients and her fellow carolers were waiting, she showed up anyway. Just singing, she reported, made her feel a little better.