Fun Yet Biting Social Commentary

Following this year’s Gridiron show, sales-women in dress departments across Oahu faced lines of overweight, post-menopausal women. Each had the same request.

“Could I see something ankle-length, in red? Oh, and with a slit up the side, say, to just below the hip. I suppose I’ll need support hose with that, won’t I?”

Call it the M.R.C. Greenwood look or, more accurately, the Gordon Y.K. Pang as M.R.C. Greenwood look in three Gridiron 2013 skits: Wonder Blunder Medley, Hey, State Senate and What I Did for Me.

The moment Pang stepped into the lights, you could hear ladies throughout Diamond Head Theatre sighing, “Oooooo. He – I mean she – looks fabulous.”

Indeed, he did. And I, and at least one other man of my acquaintance, noticed that Gordon shows a good-looking leg as well.

By day, of course, Pang reports for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. In that role, he dresses like every other reporter I’ve ever known: non-descript, verging on disheveled, if not sloppy. Oh, but once every year or so, for two shows and a couple of dress rehearsals, the Gridiron wardrobe ladies transform him into a style maven.

That’s the Gridiron show, downright transformative. Mild-mannered reporters, weekend weather guys, former television reporters turned flacks – all become musical comedy entertainers with a capital “E.”

Donalyn Dela Cruz, for example. Recently press aide to the governor, more recently DOE spokesperson, on Gridiron night Dela Cruz becomes Colleen Hanabusa, or “Donnabusa” to her fellow Gridironers.

Dressed in a power-red happi coat and flanked by four Hanabusettes, Dela Cruz rapped “Damn, don’t they know it, I’m a tita, from Waianae/Asian so my genes are better than, the haole guy,/ Gonna take the Senate seat cuz Dan said I own it/Gonna show the Guv-nah that eh, he wen blow it.” Rappin’ and dancin’ her heart out, Dela Cruz brought down the house. Hanabusa should figure a way to bottle her.

Chad Blair haunts the Capitol as a reporter for Civil Beat, but for the previous two Gridirons he played a peacock, a deathly frightened peacock being pursued by an angry Makaha matron with a cleaver. How do you beat that for hysterical?

You don’t. So they gave Blair the daunting task of playing Gov. Neil Abercrombie dancing Gangnam Style. Tough? You bet, but Blair nailed it.

Speaking of nailing a part, consider Hawaii Public Radio reporter Wayne Yoshioka. Dressed in cowboy hat, palaka-cloth shirt and boots, he played state Sen. Clayton Hee explaining how he’d saved the media shield law by killing it. Got that? Hee couldn’t have done a better Hee than Yoshioka did in Gridiron 2013.

Perhaps the best number of the night – Where Is Sears? – dealt with the transformation of Ala Moana Center from a place where locals shopped to a conglomeration of upscale stores for tourists. Sitting on a bench, tired shoppers Vicki Viotti and Kyle Funasaki sang to the tune of Where Is Love?: “Where is Sears?/ Where I shopped for all these years?/No aloha wear, no car repair,/No more those nice cashiers.”

In response, the incredibly talented Billy Sage, resplendent in tuxedo, danced across the stage singing “Hooray for Bloomingdales!/The ritzy fricken glitzy Bloomingdales!” It was a hoot, but it was biting social commentary as well.

Were there dead spots in the Gridiron 2013‘s 39 songs and skits? I counted three. No more than that. Terrific dancing, strong, razor-sharp writing and endless laughter: Artistic directors Keoki Kerr and Robbie Dingeman did themselves proud.