Holiday music in Moana courtyard
By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
By Wayne Harada
"Emme's Christmas Moments at the Moana," airing Thursday night, is a seasonal delight with a focus on music.
Taped this month at the Sheraton Moana Surfrider's Banyan Courtyard, the special also delves into Christmases past with clips of past programs. The latest show is a reunion of sorts for show host and producer Emme Tomimbang, who launched her first holiday special 11 Christmases ago at the Moana.
This year, comedian Augie T. is on hand to continue the Tomimbang tradition of rounding up some of the town's bright talents for holiday cheer.
Kids always add a feel-good aspect to a holiday show, so the inclusion of the Honolulu Boy Choir is a smart move. They capture the essence of youthful exuberance on "Here Comes Santa Claus" with an ensemble of singers and dancers, including a halau composed of Boy Choir members.
Other current troupers include Jasmine Idica, 9, a Kapolei Elementary School fourth-grader, who sounds like a future "American Idol" prospect, delivering a very polished "Grown Up Christmas List."
Tani Lynn Fujimoto, budding star on Discovery Kids' "Flight 29 Down" and a frequent performer in local theater, shares her stage savvy on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." My, how she's grown as a performer.
Na Palapalai's three-part harmony, mostly in the upper register, highlights "I Call the Lord," which capitalizes on the more serious note of Christmas.
Unfortunately, a left-field song choice — "Jingle Bell" — by The Krush, Edwin Ramones' 2005 reorganized group, is not the best choice to showcase its strengths, or its first female member, Annamarie Love.
Benjamin Cross of the City of Refuge Church Choir sings solo on "The Christmas Song," demonstrating the vocal smoothness that made Cross and the choir a hit on last year's Tomimbang special, when they — along with The Makaha Sons — provided stirring back-up to Willie K on "O Holy Night." In the 2004 replay of the performance, we see Willie in a tuxedo — a milestone moment to be sure.
Other flashbacks include Melinda Caroll in 1994's first special, rendering a sweet and poignant "What Child Is This," and a foursome of legendary singing gents (Jimmy Borges, Dick Jensen, Iva Kinimaka and Nephi Hannemann) collaborating in a 1999 treatment of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." Martin Nievera shared his original composition in 1996, "All I Want for Christmas Is You."
While there might have been a staged finale in the live concert, the at-home spectator only discovers the entire cast singing "Silent Night" behind the parting farewells by Tomimbang and Augie — a weakness in the mounting of the special. Then again, Willie's powerful "O Holy Night," which features Hawaiian lyrics, is a tough act to follow.
Reach Wayne Harada at firstname.lastname@example.org.