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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 28, 2006

SHOW BIZ
Midler's Christmas album has touch of Hawai'i

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Columnist

Midler

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Reichel

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Masuda

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Vegas

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HAVE A MELE: It will be a "Cool Yule" for Hawai'i's Bette Midler. The Divine Miss M's Christmas album, due Oct. 10, will be partly "green and bright." That is to say, she's recorded R. Alex Anderson's holiday classic, "Mele Kalikimaka," with a big-band spin, according to Johnson Enos, Island native who has had his finger on the pulse of some Mainlanders' careers. Enos said Midler's musical tracks found a way to Gaylord Holomalia at Avex Studios in Hawai'i Kai. Midler also revives "Winter Wonderland/Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" as a duet with Johnny Mathis. ...

Meanwhile, Midler's annual "Hulaween" Halloween fund-raiser is set for Oct. 31 at the Marriott Marquis at Times Square. The event raises awareness and funds for her New York Restoration Project; Willie Nelson is honoree, with Stevie Nicks performing. Tickets start at $1,000 and with Midler at the helm, it's always a howl. ...

CLASS ACT: Keali'i Reichel's "Kukahi 2006," staged last weekend at Blaisdell Concert Hall, clearly established the Maui resident as a daring, innovative and insightful entertainer, transforming a ho'ike into brilliant theater. With his roots and soul in hula but his livelihood in a modern world, he blended yesterday with today in a seamless spectacle. Reichel's potent vocals accompanied soul-stirring hula by his three-dozen-strong Papa Lei Maile corps and his older-generation Papa Lei Hihahina group of 20, which includes his mother, Lei. ...

Production values were first-rate, from lighting to sound to visuals (capitalizing on three background screens). Reichel redefined his stance as kumu hula of Halau Ke'alaokamaile by dancing with his students, defying tradition where kumu almost never perform with halau. Ben Vegas, looking as good as he sounded, was incorporated into the Reichel 'ohana with satisfying results. When all was said and sung, it was obvious: Reichel's oli and mele coupled with his artistry, his wisdom, his vision moved him to the top of the performing class. ...

HITHER 'N' YON: Shawna Masuda, starring as Millie Dillmount in Diamond Head Theatre's "Thoroughly Modern Millie," made her backstage debut as a haircutter she snipped the tresses of castmate Candace Yoshioka, under the supervision of Jess Aki, DHT makeup designer (and Honolulu Community College instructor).

And there was backstage drama of sorts Elizabeth "Bit" Harrison, a lead dancer and Masuda's understudy for Millie, didn't make the Friday opening when her car flipped over as she tried to avoid a racer on the H-3. Harrison was badly bruised, wearing a neck brace, and assistant director Melanie Tojio Lockyer decided Bit shouldn't put show biz before health. Further, Friston Ho'okano, who has several roles in the show, was hospitalized with kidney stone problems. ...

Tricia Marciel, who plays Miss Dorothy Brown in "Millie," sang at the Sheraton Waikiki's Hanohano Room (with 20 cast members, including Cathy Foy, Jodi Leong, Elitei Tatafu Jr. and Alison Maldonado providing moral support) last Sunday Marciel regularly performs there with Stardust. ...

At Army Community Theatre's "Sweeney Todd" finale at Richardson Theatre, ACT's Vanita Rae Smith introduced Channing Weir ("The Secret Garden") as "Annie" in the next-up musical, keeping the family momentum going, since her brother Ian Weir was in the "Sweeney" cast. ...

ITEMIZATIONS: Remember when actress Elizabeth Taylor visited at the Kahala Resort in August? Among her day trips was a shark-diving tour she's seen in the Oct. 2 People magazine getting ready to delve into the deep blue. She's also quoted about turning 75 next February: "I'm going to celebrate it by going shark-diving." ...

David Alan Grier's postponed concert has been rescheduled for Nov. 18 at the Blaisdell Concert Hall. ...

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.