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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, July 13, 2007

Suddenly, Ables Sayre finds she IS somebody

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

From left, Wil Kahele is Daddy Lusa, Pomai Lopez is Lisa Lusa and Loretta Ables Sayre is Pua "Ma" Lusa in "You Somebody," opening tonight at the Diamond Head Theatre. Ables Sayre also played the role of the archetypal local stage mother in the show's first staging five years ago.

Brad Goda

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'YOU SOMEBODY'

A musical by Lee Cataluna, with songs by Keola Beamer, produced by Diamond Head Theatre

Premieres at 8 p.m. today; repeats at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays, through July 29, with 3 p.m. matinees July 21 and 28

Diamond Head Theatre

$12, $22, $32, $42; discounts for students, seniors 62 and older, and military

733-0274, www.diamondheadtheatre.com

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With two television commercials now airing, a recurring role on a syndicated Hawai'i-filmed TV series and one "You Somebody" musical under her belt, singer-actress Loretta Ables Sayre has had enough exposure to be a "somebody." She's widely recognized in public.

"That's the price of fame," said Ables Sayre, who reprises her role in the Lee Cataluna-Keola Beamer musical hit "You Somebody," which opens tonight at Diamond Head Theatre. She portrays the indefatigable Pua "Ma" Lusa, a stage mother intent on becoming famous by any means necessary; her goal is to get her family's names in a particular column. (Disclosure: It's Show Biz, by yours truly, in the Island Life section of The Advertiser.)

"The days you want to sneak into Safeway for dog food, or Costco to get that 48 rolls of toilet paper or five packets of ice cream is when you get recognized," Ables Sayre said. "I'm nonglamorous, with no makeup and not properly coiffured when I'm out shopping. And wearing boro-boro clothes."

In her second go as Ma Lusa, the matriarch in a household with virtually no talent, Ables Sayre says there have been some bumps in the road.

"I'm older now (it's been five years since the play first was produced), and my memory brain cells are not working," she laughs. "Physically, it's another challenge; I'm running and chasing the kids. It would be far better to sit in a La-Z-Boy instead of doing that choreography."

She has high praise for some of her new co-stars. Angela Morales, one-third of the singing group Na Leo Pilimehana, is making her Island stage debut as Eloise Baga, a matriarch who is Ma Lusa's nemesis in the quest for fame. Morales is particularly powerful and hilarious.

"Watching and listening to her has been a beautiful experience," said Ables Sayre. "It's like watching a butterfly come out of a cocoon. She's giving everything she's got; she's directed a show ('Seussical' this summer) but has not acted in one, and she brings so much talent to the cast and to Na Leo. Somebody told me that there are two stars in the musical, me and Angela. No, there is only one star: Angela and Na Leo have 27,000 Hokus; I have a dog named Hoku."

The next time the show is re-incarnated, Ables Sayre said, Eloise Baga's role "has to be rewritten into a lead role. For now, we jan ken po (for the applause) every night."

She also said Kimo Kaona as one of the Lusa children, Bobby is one to watch and a veritable scene-stealer. "Every time he comes out on stage, I burst out laughing; and he's only 20, so he's got a great future." Former Miss Hawaiis Cathy Foy Mahi, Cheryl Toma Sanders, Traci Toguchi and Denby Dung play beauty queens with comedic results and "Denby Dung will make you want to wear Depends to the show."

Since moving from Hawai'i Kai to Mililani Mauka, Ables Sayre and her publicist husband, David Sayre, have been spending the past few months settling into a new home, combining two households (theirs, and her live-in mom's) into one. Thus, she's had a round of do-it-yourself domesticity.

"One of my passions is interior decorating; I sewed curtains, pillow covers, duvets for the bedroom. It's been busy but fun," she said. Ables Sayre and hubby also did a lot of interior painting.

That's one reason she hasn't been in the nightclub limelight since closing last year at The Kahala resort. For a time, she had paint in her hair.

"Sure, I miss singing, but I've had an incredible run of about 20 years at the Ala Moana Hotel, the Halekulani for 10 years, The Kahala for seven years. I just needed to get time off, or burnout would have happened," she said. "But I do want to return."

In August, Ables Sayre will head for New York in her quest to perhaps become a New York "somebody." She is one step closer in the audition process for the Bloody Mary role in a 2008 Lincoln Center revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein evergreen, "South Pacific."

"Just boggles my mind," she said of the opportunity ahead. "This really goes 'Beyond the Break' (the name of the TV series in which she has been a regular)."

Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.