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Lifestyle // Tannya’s Take
Tannya Joaquin

A Glimpse Behind ‘Gridiron’ Scenes

The Society of Professional Journalists’ popular Gridiron show is locked and loaded with plenty of ammo after a one-year break. Anyone and anything is fair game.

The no-holds-barred revue pokes fun at news-makers and hilarious headlines. Some of the material in Gridiron 2013: #Sequester This even makes veteran cast members blush.

Moms in Hawaii’s Esme Infante-Nii posted on Facebook: “It’s likely that during the performance, audience members will whisper:

“‘OMG. Did they really just say/do that?’

“‘Wait. Are they ALLOWED to say/do that?’

“And, ‘Uhhh, is __________ in the audience?!’ Insert politician/target there.”

Who’s on the Gridiron hit list? Donalyn Dela Cruz gets asked all the time if she’s playing Colleen Hanabusa again. Will Ben Gutierrez bust out the stilts to reprise his role as Mufi Hannemann? And, how about that star spangled leotard-wearing Dan Cooke as Linda Lingle?

Regular Kerry Yoshida always wonders, “How in the heck are we going to top this show the next time? Every time we come back to rehearsals for the next show, I think ‘Oh. That’s how.’”

There are some stories that are gifts from the Gridiron gods. Think Manti Te’o or the Wonder Blunder. But there’s a lot more that goes into creating Gridiron gold before the curtain goes up at Diamond Head Theatre Friday night.

Writers start picking topics and writing lyrics in February then test out the parodies with two rating sessions. Based on scores and number of laughs, 100 numbers are whittled down to about 20.

Artistic directors Robbie Dingeman and Keoki Kerr fine tune the numbers. Director/choreographer Ahnya Chang adds in creative dance routines, with the aid of Anna Gomes. Music director Roslyn Catracchia and technical director Theresa Riedman round out the creative genius behind the Gridiron.

Then come two months of rehearsals weekends and after-work learning, practicing and perfecting the choreography.

Other than veteran songstress Cathy Foy, performers are mostly amateurs from the news and public-relations worlds. This year’s cast includes Kerr, Dela Cruz, Gutierrez, Lisa Kubota, Mahealani Richardson, Chad Blair and Gordon Pang, former newsies Jodi Leong, Malika Dudley and Denby Fawcett, and yours truly for the first time.

That’s the only surefire way to score tickets. The three shows this coming Friday and Saturday (Aug. 23 and 24) sold out in three hours. Tickets even went for our Thursday dress rehearsal. So, for the first time, tickets will be sold at the theater for the Wednesday rehearsal on the day of the show at 6 p.m., $20 cash, limit of four tickets.

It’s the culmination of two months of rehearsal weekends and after-work learning, practicing and perfecting the choreography.

Now the fun part – watching the audience, who in turn will watch the show with one eye on the stage, another on targets being lampooned on stage who may be sitting next to you.

It’s all in good fun. It benefits paid journalism internships and scholarships.

The show has shifted to odd-numbered years because of challenges in election years. Besides, that’s such an important time for collecting new material for the next Gridiron.

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