Review: ‘A Cazimero Christmas’ at Hawaii Theatre

Dec. 13, 2013 | 0 Comments

REVIEW BY CAROL EGAN / Special to the Star-Advertiser

Tired of the hustle and bustle of the pre-Christmas season? Yearning to be with loved ones in a family-friendly setting? Look no further than the Hawaii Theatre this weekend. There you’ll feel surrounded by friends and ohana.

Each year at this time, the Cazimero Brothers present their annual Christmas show. As always, along with Robert and Roland it features the men of Halau Na Kamalei, Robert Cazimero’s esteemed hula troupe, and the lovely Ladies of the Royal Dance Company. As they do every year, the Cazimeros also present the most recent Miss and Master Keiki Hula.

--Courtesy photo

‘A CAZIMERO CHRISTMAS’

» Where: Hawaii Theatre, 1130 Bethel St.
» When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, and Saturday, Dec. 14; also 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15
» Cost: $30-$75
» Info: (808) 528-0506 or hawaiitheatre.com

Additional guests this year include Lehua Kalima, a member of Na Leo Pilimehana and a successful solo performer, and saxophonist Anthony Martinez.

Though much of the show, previewed at the dress rehearsal on Thursday, Dec. 19, is devoted to traditional Christmas carols, there are many original touches to make these holiday favorites come alive with new harmonies and rhythms. The Cazimeros, masters at seguing from one melody to another, present clusters of medleys ranging from the humorous “Shopping Medley” to the celestial “Angel Medley,” from the opening upbeat selection to the classy sedate “Bells and Snow” section with its glorious “Beauty of Mauna Kea” sung in close harmony.

Together with the music, however, comes the added and very vital element of dance. The kane dancers bring their friendly and exuberant energy to the stage in a series of hula ranging from a humorous auana dance to an earthy kahiko number. It is always a joy to recognize senior members of this group while noting new faces. The ensemble work remains tight and cohesive, as though they’d worked together for years (which many have).

By contrast, the youngest performers, both 10 years old, impress with their youthful charm and talent. Jeslie Ann Pavao, Miss Keiki Hula 2013, and Luke Keoni Hunadi, Master Keiki Hula 2013, are both from Kauai. Jeslie Ann, mature beyond her years, shows a gracefulness, graciousness and sincerity often lacking in adult performers. According to program notes, she was born into a hula family and has been involved in hula all her life. Young Luke, a spitfire of energy, has been a member of his halau for six years. You do the math!

With typical generosity, the Cazimeros seem delighted to share their stage with performers of various ages and backgrounds. Spotlighting a musician from one branch of the armed forces is not new to the Cazimeros. This year’s pick is the excellent saxophone player Martinez, a member of the National Guard.

Kalima, a versatile and accomplished singer, is equally at home in jazz as in ballads. Particularly moving is her rendition of “What Love” accompanied by the stylish choreography Robert Cazimero created for the Ladies of the Royal Dance Company.

Produced by Burton White and directed by White and Robert Cazimero, the concert flows smoothly from its opening number to the lively finale. Lighting by Stephen Clear and sound design by Dean Hoofnagel enhance the production.

One thing missing was seeing Robert Cazimero himself dance. Perhaps next year.

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