Author: Rona Lee

Sunday morning began just before 9 a.m. with an important email from the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival with driving instructions to their sold-out performance. Opera On the Rocks was held at a private venue, The Ocean Club at Mauna Lani Resort.  It was the second performance for this event, and it opened Friday evening at the Hilo Palace Theater. At 3:30 p.m., an aura of mystique and excitement began to brew as the patrons arrived at this exclusive destination and were shuttled to the Ocean Club. Strong Kona winds cooled the blazing sun as palm fronds danced above the well-constructed,…

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The Hawaii Performing Arts Festival presented its 18th Season Opener, The Spirit of Hawai’i, at The Plantation Estate venue at the Fairmont Orchid last Thursday; under palm trees dancing to the trade winds, there was palpable excitement as the patrons took their seats. The set list was perfect, with Kaulu Amaral and Pomai Brown & Friends leading the show with old “hula classics” from the 1940s-50s. Pomai Brown is quite famous in his own right; on Thursday night, he was so humble with a wealth of information narrating as Master of Ceremonies for this first part of the show, which…

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What I Love About HPAF The Hawaii Performing Arts Festival’s (HPAF) Season of Self Discovery began its 18th year with its Life-Long Singer Showcase last Sunday at Gates Performing Arts Center (GPAC) at the Hawaii Preparatory Academy campus in Waimea. Dr. Paulina Villareal, program director, and Dr. Paul Floyd, musical director/pianist, brought a fine production to the stage as our local friends and residents had the opportunity to sing to an enthusiastic audience. The venue was sublime – due to renovations in the Davies’ Chapel, productions that ordinarily would have been presented at the Vladimir Ossipoff-designed chapel will have the…

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Exclusive musical revue welcomes audiences back to live theatre Musical Theatre International’s (MTI) All Together Now! was designed for local theatres to perform live as the world recovers from the pandemic. MTI is providing schools and theatres around the globe with an exclusive musical revue featuring songs from MTI’s beloved shows, all free-of-charge (no royalties). Over 2,500 organizations from all 50 states and 40 countries/territories signed up to participate in the event over the Nov. 12-15 weekend. Over 5,500 individual performances were seen by over 1 million audience members. The Kahilu’s 500-seat theatre was limited to 100 in the live audience,…

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Vocalist Nyla Watson and pianist Ana Flavia Zuim wowed the Kahilu Stage Sunday afternoon.  Donned in a glittering red sequined gown, Watson charmed the audience with her life in song.  The rapport between singer and accompanist was warm and genuine, as Watson shared her heart on her sistership with Zuim.  Watson’s opening number, “Precious Lord,” was popularized by singer Mahalia Jackson but composed by the Rev. Thomas Dorsey at the inconsolable loss of his wife and infant son in childbirth; and was the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s favorite hymn. King’s last words before his assassination was a request to…

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Smooth and velvety, Scott Skiba’s baritone voice set the tone for Along The Way as he welcomed the audience to the third of the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival (HPAF) concerts Friday night at Kahilu Theatre. Skiba serves as Assistant Artistic Director of the Festival and the audience rippled with excitement in great anticipation of (two more!) festival favorites, Justin John Moniz’ and Phil Kadet’s show. COVID protocols again only permitted 100 of 490 physical seats to be filled, but many more tuned in virtually via Kahilu.TV. As the lights went down, the stage showcased the gorgeous Steinway Concert Grand, contemporary…

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