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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, October 25, 2005

SHOW BIZ
Hawai'i Tony winner back in N.Y. spotlight

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Columnist

Leilani Jones joins 'Shop' co-stars for AIDS fundraiser

SWEET Leilani: Remember Leilani Jones, Hawai'i's Tony Award winner (1985 Featured Actress in a Musical, for "Grind")? She's returned to the New York limelight, reuniting with her "Little Shop of Horrors" co-stars Sheila Kay Davis and Jennifer Leigh Warren from more than 20 years ago, earning a 90-second ovation. Our good friend, director Richard Jay-Alexander, staged "Standing Ovation IV: From Stage to Screen and Back Again," a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Oct. 16 at Joe's Pub at the Public Theatre (around the corner from the Orpheum Theatre where "Shop" originated), and the affair was the buzz of the theater community.

"It was fun to get my chops back," said Jones, now mom to a 7- and 9-year-old, who mostly does her singing in church in California. "I've been thinking of doing a play again, but that means evenings and weekends away from the family, and I'd never see my kids," said Jones in a phone conversation as she was driving her son to gymnastics classes. She and her husband live in San Marino, a community just outside Pasadena, but the family will be returning to Hawai'i in March to mark the 50th anniversary of her parents, residents of 'Aiea for more than 40 years, who've relocated to California to be closer to the grandkids. ...

While Jones was in New York, longtime Isle pal Willy Falk who originated the role of Chris in "Miss Saigon" on Broadway hosted a brunch in her honor. Falk now does opera, not musical theater, and he's had a long association with his Island vocal coach, Neva Rego. ...

Jay-Alexander tapped scores of Broadway talent for the fundraiser, including his one-time "Saigon" star Lea Salonga, who is expecting her first child in May. On the show, she bypassed the expected "Saigon" hits and rendered "Where Is Love/As Long as He Needs Me," wowing the crowd. ...

Jay-Alexander has collaborated with Jay Landers to write the liner notes for a historic Barbra Streisand boxed DVD set, "The Television Specials," due Nov. 22. It collates her first five TV specials, including two previously unavailable shows "The Belle of 14th Street" and "Barbra Streisand and Other Musical Instruments" along with "My Name Is Barbra," "Color Me Barbra" and "A Happening in Central Park." For details, go to www.barbranews.com. ...

WHEE, THE PEOPLE: Ted Kim, owner-chef of Kats Sushi on South King Street, often is called upon to make sushi for the cast and crew of "Lost." But getting the made-to-order sushi to the stars has been a challenge, Kim said; filming often takes place in out-of-the-way locations. Of the friendly cast members, Kim said: "Oh, they love sushi." Kim hasn't had time to watch the ABC hit, but he recognizes the key players because "they always look like, well, castaways." ...

Honolulu Symphony pops conductor Matt Catingub appears in the current George Clooney movie, "Good Night, and Good Luck," playing tenor sax behind Dianne Reeves, and also played solo sax in the opening and closing tune of the film, "When I Fall in Love." Catingub arranged the Concord soundtrack music. ...

MEMORY LANE: "A Chorus Line," which we caught in mid-run at the Hawai'i Theatre last week, provided reflection galore; it must've been my 12th time, at least, to see a performance. The Paul San Marco character, played by Joey Murray, brought back memories of the late Tommy Aguilar, who originated the role in the London company, and who inspired so many local kids and helped generate a buzz on the Michael Bennett classic. The company moves on to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center this week. ...

And that's Show Biz.

Show Biz is published Tuesdays and Thursdays. Reach Wayne Harada at 525-8067, wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com or fax 525-8055.