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Entertainment // Art & Stage
Rasa Fournier

These Lions Keep The Audience Purring

There’s nothing quite so tickling and joyous as the bubbling cadence of children’s laughter, and it echoes a-plenty when Honolulu Theatre for Youth’s The Lion Dancer takes the stage. The show dishes up an abundance of malasada jokes, the necessary butt jokes (these send not only the grade-school kids into a tizzy, but their parents too), some important lessons learned, as well as some genuinely touching moments.

Tenney Theatre is injected with a surge of adrenaline when, not one, but five of the Hawaii Lion Dance Association’s lions charge into the intimate setting to the heart-pumping beat of pounding drums. The immediate thought is, “Whew, how are they gonna follow up after an intro like that?” A study some years ago had a bodybuilder trying to imitate the movements of a baby for the day, and he was hard-pressed to keep the pace for even a couple of hours. Well, as keiki interacting in a play yard, Moses Goods, Maile Holck, Hermen “Junior” Tesoro and Alvin Chan as Sifu keep the firecracker momentum popping to the last second. Even the set changes are exciting.

Chan wrote the autobiographical script about growing up in a Chinese family in Hawaii, yet yearning to fit in with the local culture. The Lion Dancer, he says, “looks at living in between two cultures and how to balance our cultural background with where we are now. I hope this play teaches kids to be proud of who they are.”

Onstage, our protagonist, Ansen (Tesoro), befriends Lani Jones (Holck), and they have it out with the neighborhood bully (Goods as Kimo). Meanwhile, Anson’s dad (Chan) teaches lion dancing and kung fu classes in preparation for a major lion dance competition. Balance is the key theme, with the sharing of food and cultural tradition sparking friendships and self-understanding. And the audience gets some insight into Lion Dancing 101 in the process.

For parents who think their keiki would be interested in learning just a bit more, Honolulu Theatre for Youth is hosting an hourlong workshop Feb. 4 at 2:30 p.m. at Tenney Theatre. Kids will have a chance to peek backstage as well as feel their acting oats onstage.

the TICKET stub

THE LION DANCER

When: Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. through Feb. 18
Where: Tenney Theatre at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, 229 Queen Emma Square
Cost: $20 adults, $10 18 and under, special rates for military and seniors
Call: 839-9885

ALSO SHOWING

Fall in Love with the Narcissus

The art of Chinese narcissus (a family that includes the daffodil) bulb carving takes years to perfect. Like their namesake, the self-enamored Greek god, if these flowers could appreciate the beautiful shapes masters form out of their bulbs, they would certainly fall in love. Experts time the blooms and control the shape of the plant, carefully cutting into the bulb without injuring pouches containing the tender shoots. Blooming in January, in time for Chinese New Year, they represent good luck and prosperity. Adore the fragrant displays of “Mr. Narcissus” Gilman Hu and his students and associates at their “Enter the Year of the Dragon” showcase Feb. 11 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and 12 (noon to 4 p.m.) at St. Peter’s Church Parish Hall at 1317 Queen Emma St. Admission is free. “Our show will have Dragon, Phoenix, Basket, Panda, Elephant, Fish,” says carver Stephen Fong of the outrageous plant shapes that will be on display.

Clear the Smoke

My psych teacher, who’d dash out of the classroom for a smoke between classes, once excused his rabid habit with, “I know how psychobiological processes work and it’s impossible to quit, so why try?” Dr. Christine Fukui, a pulmonologist, responds: “When one patient developed bladder cancer, he quit, boom, like that! Sometimes after a heart attack, or when someone gets pregnant they quit, so they can quit.” It seems they just need the motivation. The latest display at ARTS at Marks Garage offers creative visual impetus for taking that first step. “Clear the Smoke Photo Project” is a series of photos taken by everyday folks about the effects of tobacco on Hawaii’s people and the environment. Winners of the Photo Project include Shireen Paikai in first place with her picture of a crab holding a cigarette butt that had been left on the beach. The photos can be viewed at the gallery (Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.) through Feb. 4 and will then be featured at various events statewide. See them online at clearthesmoke.org.

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