'Mardi Gras Follies' revue sashays downtown with some fresh touches
By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
By Wayne Harada
Poilicious, a 31-year-old plus-sized impersonator, will don wig and dress and belt out "Big, Blonde and Beautiful" from the stage musical "Hairspray."
Lisa Schmidt, at 18 the youngest cast member, will sing "I Can't Do It Alone" from "Chicago."
Both performers are making their debut in "Mardi Gras Follies," which opens a three-day run tonight at the Hawai'i Theatre.
"We have a cast of 60, with probably half coming from last year's show at Pearl Harbor," said director Jack Cione.
He had mounted the popular Las Vegas-style revue for the last 20 years of a 50-year run at The Banyans at the naval base until last season's finale. In this weekend's reincarnation, the first in the downtown venue, Cione brings back popular staples such as Mariko Lyons and Claudio Otera as Argentine gaucho dancers.
But in reinventing the show, Cione brought it up a notch by enlisting newcomers and such community veterans as comedian Bo Irvine and singer Cathy Foy-Mahi to add not only variety but professionalism to the fold.
"I'm a fairly new arrival," said the 350-pound Poilicious, who has been entertaining for the past four years and has won three titles in the process: Miss Pauahi 2002, Miss La Femme Plus in 2003 and Princess Performer to the Emperor — all as he lip-synched to divas of the past while bewigged and clad in glamorous costumes.
"I'm very excited," said Poilicious, who chose the name to reflect his Hawaiian-Portuguese heritage and did not reveal his real name. "Poi reflects my personality and my culture; it's a (food) staple."
He normally does a drag-queen show, mouthing songs by Aretha Franklin ("Think") and Tina Turner ("Proud Mary") and even Loyal Garner ("Ha'a Hula," "Koke'e"). "But I'm a fan of 'Hairspray,' and I'm doing 'Big, Blonde and Beautiful' with a wig that's 2 1/2 to 3 feet tall," said Poilicious, who auditioned with that piece.
This flamboyant element of his life is mostly a hobby, he said. He has performed at Brandy's Black Pearl Lounge and Fusion Waikiki but maintains a five-days-a-week regular job. He makes annual treks to Japan to sing Hawaiian songs, sans wigs and costumes.
Schmidt, here from Los Altos, Calif., is attending Kapi'olani Community College and hopes to do musical theater in the future. She has been in 11 shows since the spotlight beckoned in high school.
"I just love the feeling of performing for other people, giving others a sense of being in a different world," she said.
Among other discoveries in the show's lineup is Kiona Harvey, a military wife, who will perform "Lady Marmalade."
Costumes are by Bill Dougherty and sets by Wally White.
"It's just going to look fabulous in the Hawai'i Theatre," said Cione.
Reach Wayne Harada at email@example.com.
• Correction: Kiona Harvey's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.