Pookela winners shareBy John Berger
credit with co-star
Special to the Star-Bulletin
NO one can say the seven adjudicators who nominate their favorite shows and actors for Hawaii State Theatre Council Po'okela Awards and then select the winners lack a sense of humor. A couple of their nominations this year proved that beyond doubt, but by the time the last winner was announced last night a numbingly unfocused play and appallingly miscast actress were among the also-rans and a number of deserving contenders had new "Pokies" on their resumes.
Where the adjudicators got it wrong the recipients set the record straight.
The adjudicators routinely present multiple awards, and in the case of Manoa Valley Theatre's "Kiss of the Spider Woman," where the on-stage chemistry between Guy Merola and Andrew Sakaguchi gave the show its dramatic intensity, two awards were merited. However, the adjudicators ignored Merola's performance entirely, so Sakaguchi announced that he was "sharing" his Po'okela for Leading Male (Musical) with Merola.
Diamond Head Theatre Artistic Director John Rampage also acknowledged Merola's importance while accepting a Pokie as director of the MVT show.
"Spider Woman" accounted for six of 10 Pokies received by MVT for the 1998-99 season. "The King & I" took nine of the 11 won by DHT. Hawaii Pacific University received six. Army Community Theatre and Honolulu Theatre for Youth were awarded three each. None of the thought-provoking work by the UH-Manoa theater program was deemed worthy of an award. ASATAD's non-PC "How I Learned To Drive" was snubbed as well.
However, the 10th time was the charm for perennial also-ran David F. Kleist. He won Leading Male (Play) for "Jake's Women," his final performance here.
The results reinforced the view that the adjudicators find greatest excellence in well-funded productions of mainstream Broadway and off-Broadway material, and lessor excellence in material from outside that milieu. HSTC member Kumu Kahua, major showcase for island playwrights, opts out of the Po'okela process for that reason, and the most impressive local script of the past year, Lee Cataluna's "Da Mayah," was therefore not considered.
Sound design, crucial to staging contemporary musicals, isn't acknowledged. A category should be added.
The accceptance speeches were generally short and to the point. Rampage took advantage of one of his trips to the podium to call for unity between theater groups. Richard Pellett invited folks who support big-budget musicals to check out the smaller dramatic shows. Martha Walstrum reminded the crowd that the 1998-99 season is actually still in progress and asked crowd and adjudicators alike to not overlook MVT's "Angels In America: Perestroika." Jim Hutchison paraphrased from "My Fair Lady" in accepting a long-overdue award for his decades of work here. Cynthia See thanked a reviewer for going "all the way to Haleiwa" to see her award-winning play, "Under A Shared Sky."
HSTC host Chuck Anctil and co-announcers Jodie Leong and Keoki Kerr presided over a smoothly produced show.
Here are the winners in the Hawaii State Theatre Council's 16th annual Po'okela Awards honoring excellence in theater. The awards were presented at a ceremony last night:
Leading male in a play
David F. Kleist, "Jake's Women," Manoa Valley Theatre
Leading female in a play
Stephanie Fodor, "The Diary of Anne Frank," Hawaii Pacific University
Leading male in a musical
Kalani Brady, Fiddler on the Roof," Army Community Theatre
Andrew Sakaguchi, "Kiss of the Spider Woman," Manoa Valley Theatre
Leading Female in a Musical:
Stefanie Smart, "The King & I," Diamond Head Theatre
Featured Male in a Play:
Richard Pellet, "Light Up the Sky," Hawaii Pacific University
Featured Female in a Play
Martha Walstrum, "Moon Over Buffalo," Diamond Head Theatre
Featured male in a musical
Matthew Pedersen, "A Chorus Line," Army Community Theatre
Featured female in a musical:
Vanessa R. Chang, "The King & I," Diamond Head Theatre
Greg Zane, "The King & I," Diamond Head Theatre
Director of a play
Clarke Evans, "Jake's Women," Manoa Valley Theatre
Joyce Maltby, "The Diary of Anne Frank," Hawaii Pacific University
Director of a musical
John Rampage, "Kiss of the Spider Woman," Manoa Valley Theatre
Alyson Reed, "Oliver!," Diamond Head Theatre
Melina Lillios, "Kiss of the Spider Woman," Manoa Valley Theatre
Oliver Stone, "The King & I," Diamond Head Theatre
Don Ranney, "Kiss of the Spider Woman," Manoa Valley Theatre
Wally White, "The King & I," Diamond Head Theatre
Sukey Dickinson, "The King & I," Diamond Head Theatre
Cathie Anderson, "Jake's Women," Manoa Valley Theatre
Stephen Clear, "Kiss of the Spider Woman," Manoa Valley Theatre
Dawn Oshima, "The King & I," Diamond Head Theatre
"Light Up the Sky," Hawaii Pacific University
"New Kid," Honolulu Theatre for Youth
"Pageant," Manoa Valley Theatre
"Under a Shared Sky," Cynthia See, Honolulu Theatre for Youth
"The King & I," Diamond Head Theatre
"Kiss of the Spider Woman," Manoa Valley Theatre
"The Diary of Anne Frank," Hawaii Pacific University
"New Kid," Honolulu Theatre for Youth
Pierre Bowman Award
Special excellence awards:
Army Community Theatre for the Readers Theatre series
Hawaii Pacific University for outstanding and unique playbills and tickets
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