Monty Python Gold
Poetic incongruity found the British kings of comedy holding their farewell show, Monty Python Live (mostly), in London, even as the very lively Monty Python tribute show Spamalot opened at Diamond Head Theatre (through Aug. 10, diamondheadtheatre.com). Let me spell this show out for you: F-U-N!
As a kid, the now-defunct Classic Video shop in Nuuanu turned me on to Monty Python with some free rentals. I was instantly hooked, devouring Holy Grail alone a dozen times. I was mind-blown seeing adults being so delightfully absurd and yet so witty. Spamalot re-creates well-loved sketches from the classic parody on King Arthur’s quest for the Holy Grail, including the fearlessly masochistic sword-fighting knight, catapulting cow (should we say cow-tapult?), cannibalistic rabbit, knights who say ni, the creatively insulting French soldier — and it even throws in the hopelessly buoyant and beloved by fans everywhere Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Life of Brian. But what Spamalot really does is work theater magic in all its tremendous show-stopping glory in such a way that the deluge of actors crisscrossing the stage in a flurry of song, costume changes, ingenious sets and incomprehensibly numerous props (how do they keep track of it all?) sets off nonstop fireworks, even if somehow, woe to you, you’ve never seen Monty Python.
Look for spoofs of Les Miz, Fiddler, West Side Story, Rapunzel, some amusing business about Jews in Hollywood and a cameo poke at Hawaii’s own theater critic John Berger. Andrew Sakaguchi’s direction, choreography and attention to detail are exemplary, as is his limelighting of the gutsy vocals and acting of the incredibly versatile Kalia Medeiros. Spamalot is a rowdy, hilarious, enthralling adventure and a celebratory finale to Diamond Head Theatre’s 99th season.
Braff Film Has Hawaii Ties
After a decade’s hiatus since sleeper hit Garden State, Zach Braff (Scrubs) delivers another quirky indie film with Wish I Was Here (limited engagement, Ward Stadium). The characters once again flaunt Braff’s brand of peculiarity — at once alienated and yet managing to form touching connections with their fellow human beings. As it turns out, script co-writer Adam Braff, who collaborated with his lead-actor brother on the screenplay, is a Hawaii resident.
In Wish I Was, Zach is Aidan, a Jewish dad and struggling actor who, unable to make ends meet, is forced to home-school his kids. Meanwhile, Aidan’s father breaks the news that his life-threatening cancer has returned, and Aidan’s wife struggles with a sexually inappropriate co-worker. The film stars Kate Hudson as the wife and managed to nab the great Mandy Patinkin away from Homeland to step in as the dad.
“When I first saw Zach’s idea for the script, I said, ‘That looks like my life that you want to do a film about,’” laughs Adam after a preview screening, also attended by a handful of local members of the film’s 46,000-plus Kickstarter contributors. “My parents are fine, but they are getting older. I have two kids, I’m a struggling writer and my wife supports me,” he jests.
Adam says autobiographical elements reflect the life experiences of the Braff brothers (including third brother Joshua), and that the Jewish spirituality present throughout is a tribute to their parents.
“Our dad was an attorney who did a little acting,” notes Adam. “He has a great sense of humor. As kids, he’d be watching TV shows and he’d laugh and then we’d laugh too. We loved watching him laugh.”
Originally from New Jersey, Adam left a successful screen-writing career in L.A. six years ago, escaping the urban jungle to head for the tropics, where he continues to write. Lucky for us, the brothers inherited dad’s joie de vivre. They dish up plenty of laughs, but with themes of impending death and unemployment, the tone has a more mature feel than its lighthearted predecessor.
Hawaii-born calligrapher Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls has since moved away, but she’ll be in town for two Aug. 2 workshops (may-belle.com). Imasa-Stukuls has enjoyed international success with her art form, teaching workshops around the world and even doing featured work for Martha Stewart Weddings.
She received her BFA in graphic design and ceramics at UH, but as often happens, went a completely different route after graduating and became a flight attendant. Always jet-setting, the artist stayed connected with her love of pen and paper, writing letters — the old-fashioned way — to family and friends back home, and during her travels she’d collect handwritten oddities, like a particular menu that stood out as “soulful and expressive.” Imasa-Stukuls managed to track down the menu’s artist and take a series of classes with her.
“Soon after, I sent samples of my wedding invitation designs to Martha Stewart Weddings,” she says. As fortune would have it, one of the editors liked what she saw and Imasa-Stukuls was hired to do work for an eight-page wedding display featuring calligraphy.
“When I first started out, I worked mostly on weddings,” says Imasa-Stukuls, who has lent her handiwork to numerous commissioned opportunities. “I’ve been hired for illustration and lettering projects for publishers and fashion brands. My work now is a mix of private workshops worldwide, for companies such as Chronicle Books, Adobe and Shutterfly, and lettering work for television.”
Imasa-Stukuls’ three-hour classes are designed for beginners, who will learn to scribe letters from A to Z in calligraphy. The classes come with a beginner’s calligraphy set and everything needed to delve into the art at home. The Aug. 2 classes will mark Imasa-Stukuls’ first workshops back home.