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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 18, 2003

'Danno' returns for 'Dirty Laundry' cameo

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Joe Moore is a news anchor, Sherry Chock Wong the weather girl and Matthew Pedersen (right) the news director in "Dirty Laundry," written by Moore.

Brad Goda

'Dirty Laundry'

A play by Joe Moore, produced by Manoa Valley Theatre

8 p.m. today, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday

Hawai'i Theatre

$17.50, $27.50, $37


Actor James MacArthur, who is best known as Danny "Danno" Williams on "Hawaii Five-O," says he agreed to step into a cameo role in Joe Moore's "Dirty Laundry" because "the play is good for people; it's got something to say, and there's no reason it shouldn't be said."

He's taken on the part of Father Madison, previously assigned to Jason Scott Lee, who had to bow out because of a film commitment.

The play, a Manoa Valley Theatre benefit, opens a four-show, three-day run tonight at the Hawai'i Theatre.

For director Karen Bumatai, an MVT producer, "Dirty Laundry" was yet another opportunity to experience the multiple layers of the KHON anchor, who wrote the script partly to voice his frustrations about the changing face and style of the TV news biz.

"I had worked on other projects with Joe at the Hawai'i Theatre," said Bumatai. "I find him to be a genuine, wonderful, talented guy, and 'Dirty Laundry' enables me to work with him at greater depth. I was pleased he asked me aboard."

MacArthur's last brush with island theater was directing "The Front Page," a play about newspaperdom that his father Charles MacArthur co-wrote with Ben Hecht, in an early 1970s production at Diamond Head Theatre (which then was the Honolulu Community Theatre).

"My scenes are essentially with Joe, though the play is an ensemble thing," MacArthur said of "Dirty Laundry." "Truth be known, I'm doing the show because it's Joe; there are only a few performances. A lot of work for a short run."

MacArthur, who lives in Palm Desert, Calif., has done his share of on-stage theatricals, the last one several years ago, when he toured for eight months in "Arsenic and Old Lace," with Jean Stapleton, playing Chicago, Baltimore, Cincinnati and numerous other cities.

"All my life, I've done theater — more than 50 shows," MacArthur said.

His father's works have triggered some new projects in the months ahead.

"My dad's 'His Girl Friday,' a movie that starred Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, has never been done in the theater, and the first of June, the National Theatre of London is doing it at the Olivier Theatre, and I'm going over for the opening," said MacArthur.

Another play, "Twentieth Century," based on a John Barrymore and Carole Lombard movie, is being developed and workshopped for a possible production this fall at the Roundabout Theatre in New York, said MacArthur. "Alec Baldwin is doing the reading; hopefully, he'll be interested in doing the play," he said.

MacArthur has been hearing the periodic buzz that he might have a role in the on-again, off-again "Five-O" movie, but, he said, "I haven't heard a thing from Rose (Freeman, widow of show creator Leonard Freeman, who has a voice in the matter), so it's not yet off the ground."

Bumatai said that working and rehearsing "Dirty Laundry" without MacArthur (he arrived this week, but had been here for an earlier rehearsal) has not been too difficult. "We've had an understudy from the beginning, who stepped in on the blocking, took notes, and so on, because Joe's come in with a few changes now and then," she said. "And the playwright is a pretty good actor, too."

As for hints that Moore fashioned some roles after real-life news folks, Bumatai said: "As far as I know, there are no traits from real people; we developed the characters as we went along, and the only person you'll really recognize is Joe."

It's somewhat of a busy time for Bumatai, with overlapping projects. Besides directing "Dirty Laundry," she remains an associate producer for all MVT shows, such as the theater's just-closed "Beehive" musical, which will journey to Kaua'i for benefit shows May 2-4 in a tent to be erected on the grounds of Na 'Aina Kai Gardens on the Princeville side of the Garden Island.

Further, she's started some work on MVT's next play, "Proof," which premieres May 14, as well as a June 7 fund-raiser at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.