Isle actor’s variety leads to grander stage
Sophisticated comedy, drama, tragedy, farce. Shakespearean classics and contemporary musical comedies. Brent Yoshikami has done them all since he returned from college and decided, several years later, to do theater.
On stage: Opens 8 p.m. Friday; continuing at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and 4 p.m. Sundays, through April 8. Saturday matinees are at 3 p.m. March 31 and April 7.
Place: Diamond Head Theatre: 520 Makapuu Ave.
Tickets: $42 to $12
Call: 733-0274 or visit www.diamondheadtheatre.com
Yoshikami made his debut as the horrendously insensitive young doctor in Manoa Valley Theatre's "Wit" in 2002. He played a sexually repressed young mental patient in Diamond Head Theatre's revival of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" in 2003, and has distinguished himself in comic and tragic roles alike at the Hawaii Shakespeare Festival.
A favorite of audiences and critics alike, Yoshikami is also a two-time Po'okela Award recipient, for "Wit" and for his portrayal of Gary Lejeune/Roger Tramplemain in Paliku Theatre's 2004 production of "Noises Off."
Yoshikami adds a final entry to his local stage resume this weekend as he opens as Oscar in Diamond Head Theatre's revival of "Sweet Charity." His next stop? New York and course work toward a graduate degree in acting at Columbia.
Yes, Hawaii, Yoshikami is quitting his "day job" and pursuing his muse.
"We're all socially conditioned to want a stable job and a stable life," Yoshikami explained. "I have (stability). I have a good job and a good life here, but recently something inside has been pulling me in another direction. That's why I'm going to acting school, because I can't ignore the voice inside that wants me to dedicate myself more fully to theater (and) to art."
Few have done more on the local stage in a wider variety of roles than Yoshikami. "I've been very fortunate the directors in the islands have been willing to cast me in a wide variety of things -- be it 'A Winter's Tale' or 'Noises Off' -- and I'm glad that they've given me the opportunity to bust my acting chops and really get to work."
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Brent Yoshikami makes his final appearance on stage in Diamond Head Theatre's "Sweet Charity" before hitting New York to try to become a star.
Very different the roles have been equally rewarding, he said. "Doing musical comedy is just incredible fun and joyful, and doing Shakespearean tragedy can be intense and almost cathartic. ... I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to get in (to Columbia) had I not had that diversity of experience that I've had working here in Hawaii."
Some of that experience required a good deal of risk-taking. Yoshikami was already a proven actor when he was cast as the naive Hero in DHT's 2005 "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." Musical theater requires a distinctly different set of skills, and not all actors can sing, but Yoshikami made the transition look easy.
"I was a little scared at the time," he recalled.
"When I was doing 'Wit' (three years earlier) I could never have imagined that I would be doing a musical. It wasn't really on my radar, but I thought, 'Why not?' and I auditioned and it was great. That kind of musical comedy is such a joy to do."
He enjoyed "Forum" so much that he went on to significant roles in "The Full Monty" and "A Little Night Music." "Sweet Charity" will be his fourth musical.
Yoshikami's successful five-year run is all the more impressive given that he quit theater when he graduated from high school.
"I did a lot of theater in high school, but when I went away to college, and then when I came back here, I was thinking of acting as something that's fun but doesn't pay the bills. ... But after a while I had to express myself creatively, and that desire (to act) made me decide to do theater again.
"The idea that I've got to make money before anything else -- I've definitely sort of thrown that aside. I definitely want to be an actor."