Just for laughs


POSTED: Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Kimo Smyers struggled to lift a 1,000-pound barbell while a crowd cheered him on. It's the same barbell that Pinky the Clown (played by Ruth Petersen) later carried off in one hand.

When asked how he was cast for his part as Mighty Max, the World's Strongest Man, during a recent rehearsal of the Pohai Nani All-Star Circus, the 89-year old Smyers flexed his scrawny biceps, smiled and replied, “;Because I'm so strong.”;

Smyers and Petersen are part of a cast of retirees who perform such acts as Jungle Jim and his Ferocious Felines; Osceola, King of the Alligators; Rita Riata, the Roping Queen; plus silly clowns and a kazoo band.

Residents of the retirement community, along with some staff members and children, began rehearsing in September for public performances this month.

Smyers, a resident of Pohai Nani for more than 20 years, was excited to be a part of the production. His only regret is that his longtime wife died this year and is not around to enjoy the show.

Rhoda Nelson portrays a snake charmer in her act, Fatima & Her Sensuous Serpents, while her husband, Don, who worked with a theater group in Arizona, will be wrestling stuffed alligators, grateful to be onstage once again.

“;I'm a ham at heart,”; he said.

The wild production is led by Pohai Nani resident Yona Chock, who's no stranger to the entertainment industry. She's a professional magician, clown, puppeteer, face painter, balloon sculptor and American folk dance teacher who founded Aardvark Adventures, a family entertainment business, in the early 1990s, to perform at First Night and other venues.

Her husband, Al Keali'i Chock, acts as ringmaster for this circus, open to children from “;2 to 102,”; she said. Although there is no set admission, calabash donations will be accepted to offset expenses.

“;The monkey who oversees the calabash bowl has been taught to laugh, clap and squeal approval if a donation is made,”; she added. “;The bigger the donation, the bigger the show he puts on.”;

Staging entertainment productions is also not new to the Pohai Nani community.

“;We had a talent show revue and ended up with a surplus of singers. The show was just hysterical,”; said Chock. “;The Pohai Nani Players also presented theatrical shows in the past.”;

Chock said the circus production presents opportunities for residents to try something new.

“;We may be living in paradise, but it gets boring,”; Chock said. The circus gives many residents something specific to focus on. “;Sometimes it's like herding chickens,”; Chock said. “;Because I'm younger and move faster, they ask me all of the questions. Our magician is forgetful but totally sincere. I'm going to keep her in the production even if I need to bring her onstage or offer reminders,”; she added.

“;People often forget that old people were once young ... and had a lot of fun.”;





        ;        Pohai Nani All-Star Circus:

» When: 7 p.m. Friday and Dec. 18
        » Where: Bacon Auditorium in the Pohai Nani High Rise, Pohai Nani Retirement Community, 45-090 Namoku St., Kaneohe
        » Admission: Free; donations accepted
        » Call: 234-5262 or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to reserve seats. Seating is limited.








Ringmaster Al Keali'i Chock is dressed accordingly - almost.