DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Robert Cazimero is a tree decorating menehune. He decorated two trees in his living room.
Robert Cazimero brings as much passion to decorating a stage as he does to performing on one. And when it comes to the holidays, Cazimero is earnest about his favorite part of the season: trimming Christmas trees.
Cazimero can be by turns both serious and self-effacing when talking about given topics; he talks with nearly as much reverence about Christmas trees as he does the music he performs as half of the Brothers Cazimero.
"Trees are a symbol of a wonderful season for everyone," said Cazimero. "I don't think it's one of the highlights of my life, but I love the magic and creativity of Christmas."
His actions belie his nonchalance: Studying the tree he decorated in the lobby of his apartment building in Makiki, Cazimero fussed with glass ornaments, adjusting one here, another there.
"That one needs to move more to the right," said Cazimero to himself as fellow residents called out greetings.
Cazimero has built a reputation as a tree designer extraordinaire. Friends, colleagues and fellow residents in his apartment building have all been recipients of his decorating skill.
'A Cazimero Christmas'
Featuring the Brothers Cazimero, Leina'ala Kalama Heine, Halau Na Kamalei, the Royal Dance Company, Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom, Kawaiolaonapukanileo, Connor Meers, Miss Keiki Hula 2007 Marissa Medrano and Master Keiki Hula 2007 T.J. Idemoto
» On stage: 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, Hawaii Theatre
» Tickets: $30 to $75, with $5 discount for Hawaii Theatre members, children, students, military and groups of 10 or more
» Call: 528-0506
Cazimero doesn't limit himself just to the lobby or his apartment -- where he has two trees in his living room. He also turns the hallway outside his apartment into a winter wonderland annually, and this year he's decorated the tree in the entryway at the behest of the building's owners.
Cazimero has also ordered a 16-foot artificial tree for the Hawaii Theatre stage for the brothers' annual holiday concerts this weekend. The tree will arrive in the midst of rehearsals, and decoration will fall to Cazimero.
"Every tree needs a little bit of glitz. It helps to impress and inspire," said Cazimero of his hobby.
In years past, Cazimero has festooned trees with gourds, books, wreaths, and one year -- when a particular bit of inspiration struck -- he used an umbrella to construct the silhouette of a tree.
Lugging out carefully chosen ornaments around midnight, Cazimero's custom is to decorate alone in the early hours of the morning, handing over the completed tree as a gift, so "when a person wakes up, it's all part of the surprise. I'm like a menehune owl."
Mountain Apple Co. President Leah Bernstein was one such recipient. "He tweaks my tree every year, but the first year I worked with the Cazimeros -- 28 years ago -- Robert came over with members of his halau. They thought my tree was too bare, and 30 minutes later they came back with an armload of brush collected from the yard."
The result was beautiful, she said. "Too you or I, it might look like just a Christmas tree, but what Robert does with it is beautiful."
Though the ideas are all his own, some suggestions might just seep in subconsciously courtesy of one particular cable channel; Cazimero picks up tips and cues from HGTV. "It's my favorite channel other than the Food Channel," Cazimero said matter-of-factly.
But his aptitude for creative challenges does not extend to the kitchen. "I'm the reason God made restaurants. So I think I'll stick to trees and go out to eat."