What the Heck?
COURTESY BRAD GODA
Elizabeth Wolfe, left, Mark Gilbert, Danielle Vivarttas-Ahrnsbrak and Jaeves Iha romp in the Hawaii Shakespeare Festival's "Taming of the Shrew." CLICK FOR LARGE
The play's the thing for Shakespeare fest
Kiss Me, Kate:
It's almost entirely unheralded, but Hawaii does have its own Shakespeare Festival. It kicked off Tuesday with a sneak preview of "Taming of the Shrew."
When I asked director Tony Pisculli how the festival was financed, he just laughed: "It isn't really. We lose money every year. All the actors and directors volunteer. They want a chance to do Shakespeare."
There's not even a real theater. Plays are held at Arts at Marks Garage, which turns out to be a plus. There's not a seat more than 6 feet from the action. That gives the actors no place to hide.
Not that they needed it. "The Taming of the Shrew" cast blew away the audience, with especially joyous lead performances by Mark Gilbert (day job: vice president of sales, Commercial Data Systems) and Elizabeth Wolfe (day job: working at jewelry store, Reflections of the Heart).
"Taming of the Shrew" is a tricky play to stage. Marriage and gender politics have shifted a bit in the 400 years since it was written. Says director Linda Johnson, "I'm past my 'I hate men' feminist phase. I decided to do the play as written, because to me, it's a love story." Her version's pure Shakespeare -- and pure fun.
Unfortunately, there's only one more performance, a matinee today. But the next two weeks will bring two more Shakespeare plays, at a bargain $10-$14 a ticket (550-8457).
Last Wednesday, the Academy of Arts held a by-invite-only preview party for its "Showcase" fundraiser. More than 100 local artists displayed work and more than 300 art buyers showed up, mainly people who'd bought art in previous years.
I ran into one of the marquee artists, Don Ed Hardy, standing next to one his latest works. Called "Snake Baby," it was a boogie board, covered in white acrylic, hanging on a leash from a wooden arm. The arm was covered with tattoo stencils, a reminder that before devoting himself to fine arts, Hardy was one of America's legendary tattooists.
"Snake Baby" was priced at $5,500. As Hardy pointed out, he had painted a baby on one side of the boogie board, a snake on the other. "If you get tired of one, you can always flip it over."
"I love this event," said Hardy. "A gallery would only give you half of the sale price. Here, the artist gets 60 percent and the other 40 percent goes to children's art programs. What's not to like?"
While I was standing there, Hardy sold not "Snake Baby," but a $1,300 lithograph which looked at first glance like a Hindu temple rubbing, but revealed on close inspection a wealth of subtle images, from sharks to cartoon ducks. "There's a whole lot to look at here," said the satisfied buyer.
Art was flying off the walls. Hardy's friend, Jason Teraoka, sold a painting called "Love Hurts." Said the buyer, "He's going to have a show in Tokyo this fall, and prices are going to take off."
This afternoon, you can catch Don Ed Hardy in a one-hour TV documentary called "Art or Not?" (Ovation TV, digital cable channel 608). The Academy's Showcase festivities conclude this evening with a food and wine extravaganza. You may or may not be able to get a last-minute ticket: 532-6099.
The Hawaii regional chefs are starting to island hop again. Peter Merriman, who has restaurants on the Big Island and Maui, has signed a lease to open a restaurant in Kauai's soon-to-be-built Kukui'ula Shopping Village.
He's looking for a chef willing to locate on Kauai. "Not going to cook yourself?" I asked. "Georgio Armani doesn't sew every suit," said Merriman.
In the meantime, Maui chef Bev Gannon is consulting on Lanai. The venerable Hotel Lanai closes next month for a month-long renovation. Gannon will help reopen the hotel's restaurant as the Lanai City Grill.
"You know chefs," says Gannon. "You can't stop us. It's like an addiction, you always have to open just one more restaurant."
Cleaning Up His Act:
Andy Bumatai and Rip Taylor were both flecked with confetti on the set of Bumatai's new talk show "NightTime." CLICK FOR LARGE
"Where's the confetti?" says Rip Taylor. "Wasn't my mouth moving when I told them to get confetti?"
Actor-comedian Taylor, who's appeared in more than 100 films and TV shows, is sitting in the world's liveliest furniture store, the Honolulu Design Center. He's upstairs at a table in the restaurant, flipping through a stack of cards on which are written his spontaneous quips for tonight.
Downstairs, the crew for Andy Bumatai's new "NightTime" talk show is in the showroom, running wires, setting up monitors. House band Don Tiki warms up in the corner.
An old pro, Taylor is concerned about his entrance. He wants to know the timing, needs to put on his trademark wig, doesn't want to walk too far because he's recovering from knee surgery and doesn't want to be seen with his cane.
And where's the damn confetti? Finally a producer arrives with a Wal-Mart bag full. "I told them not to spend so much money," says Taylor.
After a long wait, the show needs Taylor immediately. He makes a "surprise" entrance during the intro, flinging vast handfuls of confetti all over everyone, including Bumatai. He tells jokes, many of which misfire, slams the desk with his toupee. He's not so much a comic as an anarchic force.
Bumatai has three shows to tape that night. As Taylor exits, the set lies covered in confetti like thickly drifted snow. A crew assembles with brooms and a vacuum cleaner. "This is going to be a bitch to clean up," says one.