FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Cheetah Girls fans arrived at Saturday's concert in cheetah-wear, above. Moana Hillen, left, Angela Lopez, Keana Hillen and Lily Piredes were ready to take their Blaisdell Arena seats.
Herky-perky Cheetah Girls tickle tweens
Hawaii finally got to experience "growl power" in full force as the Cheetah Girls closed their 2006-07 tour with two sold-out shows in the Blaisdell Arena this weekend. Almost everything went off like clockwork -- from the opening countdown that brought the Girls and their male dancers onstage at 5:05 p.m., to the thick clouds of confetti that rained down during final number, "Amigos Cheetahs," almost exactly 60 minutes later.
The audience -- ages 4 to 10, escorted by moms and a few indulgent dads -- loved everything.
The kids sang along when they were asked to sing, cheered on cue, repeated key phrases like a giant youth choir and quickly accepted the challenge of determining which section of the arena could show the girls the most "cheetah love" by yelling "Cheetah-licious" the loudest.
They also cheered the music videos, and the video ads for Cheetah Girls' merchandise, that ran before the show.
The kids were there for the entire concert experience. It seemed that the 30-minute intermission after the opening act was intended to provide sufficient time for kids and parents to buy Cheetah Girls merchandise, and to give mothers with younger kids ample time to get them in and out of the ladies' room, but most of the crowd stayed put in the arena and watched with rapt attention as the boom camera operator scanned the crowd and put an ever-changing panorama of the arena floor on the overhead screen.
Some kids waved enthusiastically or held up homemade Cheetah Girls posters when they saw themselves made big on the overhead; others suddenly became bashful.
If anyone in the arena cared that one of the four Girls wasn't there -- Raven-Symone, a k a Galleria, was off promoting a solo project -- it wasn't evident in the greeting the others received when they came out in unisex garb, stripped down to Cheetah Girls attire and got the party started.
Adrienne Bailon, a k a Chanel, Sabrina Bryan, a k a Dorinda, and Kiely Williams, a k a Aquanette, were a full and complete show on their own. Anyone who didn't know that the Cheetah Girls are officially a quartet would be charmed by the trio.
Bright, bouncy and eminently personable, the Girls worked hard for their fans. "Strut," one of several songs from their "Cheetah Girls 2" project, was a particular favorite.
It was also interesting from a musicological perspective to hear them do a hit from the '60s, "Shake a Tail Feather," with the original James & Bobby Purify lyrics ("I've heard about that fella you've been dancing with ..." ), and then also do "Route 66," which goes back a generation before that.
Even allowing for the fact that it was a tracks show, the Girls were more than just all right. Equal parts En Vogue and all the tracks-act girl groups of the late '80s (Sweet Sensation, the Cover Girls, Seduction, Expose, Company B, etc.), and with a hint or two of the Bangles as well, the Girls proved to be more than kiddie fare.
There was some substance to what they were doing.
The production values of the show were the only disappointment. The flow was interrupted many times when the Girls and their dancers left the stage, the lights went dark and nothing at all was happening. The time required for costume changes can be covered in several ways that allow the action to continue onstage, and a show like this one should be world class even if it is aimed at kids.
Sound quality was excellent -- albeit a bit loud for some of the moms and dads -- and the lighting was all it needed to be, but the show overall would have had even more "growl power" if it had been produced and directed at the level it should have been, providing 60 minutes of nonstop action by the Girls and/or their dancers. A stop-and-go performance, with intermittent periods of stagnant darkness, is not what Chanel, Dorinda and Aquanette represent.
But growl on, ladies, growl on!