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Entertainment // Art & Stage
Rasa Fournier

Hula Under the Koolaus

Zipping along on an ATV at Kualoa Ranch, you can’t help but have fun, but I’d never been to any cultural activity on the ranch until checking out its new Legends of Kualoa dinner show. As I settled in with the group at picnic tables just before sunset, our host greeted us as though we were guests at a family gathering. Her manner was refreshingly personable and low-key, conspicuously free of the usual “ALOOOOOHA!”

She proceeded to tell us tales of Kualoa, of the gods and battles that shaped the land. We learned about Mokoli’i, or Chinaman’s Hat, the remnant tail of a great lizard that was chopped to pieces by Pele’s sister. We heard pastimes of Kamapua’a. They were legends I’ve heard several times before, but here they were demonstrated through hula kahiko and accompanied by chanting. Interwoven with the stories was an introduction to ancient Hawaiian practices, including a talk about lua or fighting arts, traditional games that called for audience participation, and a 101 on seven different Hawaiian instruments.

The show is presented by Mamoli’i Productions, led by Kumu Hula Kui Gapero with Kamehameha Schools students. Their delivery is so unpretentious – completely devoid of the touristy blitzkrieg of flashy costumes, high-tech lights and show music pumped through stereo speakers – that there’s a chicken skin moment where you look at the authentic setting with the dancers and storyteller. You look at the lush scenery stretching up toward the majestic peaks of Kualoa Mountain, the namesake of the land that we are told is some of the most sacred on the island. A gentle breeze whispers through the valley raising every hair on your body, and you just go: Wow!

Here’s the conundrum: Will tourists understand the import of what they’re seeing enough to value it, even without all the customary bells and whistles? Will locals be up for paying the cost and making the drive?

the TICKET stub
THE LEGENDS OF KUALOA

When: Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m.
Where: Kualoa Ranch
Cost: $39-$49 ($29-$39 for kama’aina). The dinner show can be combined with a selection of other tours the ranch offers.
More Info: 237-7321 or kualoa.com

ALSO SHOWING

Some plays are haunting, they move you, bruise your soul, make you cry. Singin’ in the Rain at Diamond Head Theatre -on the 60th anniversary of the movie’s release – does none of that. It’s pure feel-good entertainment. When New York import Sean Quinn as Don Lockwood gets tap-dancing, your spirit bursts into its own revelry of choreographed joy.

Lest it’s been a while since you cozied up to the old classic with a bowl of popcorn on a rainy night, Lockwood is a silent film star alongside the fair-tressed Lina Lamont. The tabloids have dubbed them a pair, and though Lamont would like that to be the case, Lockwood finds Lamont’s squeaky voice grating. Instead he falls for the more modest Kathy Selden. This love triangle plays out on the eve of the release of motion picture talkies.

The catch is that Ahnya Chang’s Lina Lamont is so deliciously self-absorbed and wrought with peculiarity that the spotlight dims a bit whenever she’s not on stage. Her coup d’état is a scene in front of her dressing room mirror where a buxom, lingerie-clad Lamont asks What’s Wrong With Me?, a song that wasn’t in the film version. She’s so spunky and adorably odd that you’re almost rooting for her as she concludes that he’s the one with the problem, not her.

Marcela Biven’s beautiful voice adds some pizzazz to her homely Kathy Selden. Also issuing forth a notably golden voice are Pedro Armando Haro’s pipes in his cameo belting out Beautiful Girl. As Don Lockwood’s sidekick Cosmo Brown, Kyle Malis’ portrayal comes across as a bit affected, but his singing is spot on.

The show plays at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday, with Saturday matinees at 3 p.m. through Aug. 12. Tickets cost $12-$42. For more information, call 733-0274 or visit diamondheadtheatre.com.

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