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Do It: Kristian Lei, Kualoa canoe fest, more
FRIDAY, MARCH 8-SUNDAY, MARCH 24
Manoa Valley Theatre will stage the award-winning musical “Next to Normal”
Despite its name, “Next to Normal” is “very unusual,” said Alison Aldcroft, who portrays lead character Diana in the prize-winning musical playing at Manoa Valley Theatre through March 24.
“First of all, it’s a contemporary, rock-driven score which is amazing,” said Aldcroft, inset, who sings for the blues-rock band The Blue Devils. “The music really often highlights what’s happening on the stage emotionally. It goes everywhere from ballads to heavy rock riffs.”
The music isn’t the only element with broad range. The musical, like the Oscar-winning film “Silver Linings Playbook,” involves the condition known as bipolar disorder.
“The story is so compelling,” Aldcroft said. “It just takes you in. It’s a roller-coaster ride.”
Though it is her character who has bipolar disorder, which manifests itself in delusions, the musical is more an examination of how Diana’s family reacts to her condition.
“To me I’m just reacting normally to the circumstances that are presented to me, but everybody else has their rides, their ups and downs,” she said.
“Next to Normal” won three 2009 Tony Awards, and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for drama even though it wasn’t nominated, becoming only the eighth musical to receive the award. The New York Times called it “a brave, breathtaking musical,” adding that it “is something much more than a feel-good musical: it is a feel-everything musical.”
Guest director is Brett Harwood. Other cast members include, from Kyle Malis, M. Wesley Watson, and Kanani Rogers
Where: Manoa Valley Theatre
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays through March 24
Info: manoavalleytheatre.com or 988-6131
– Steven Mark
SATURDAY, MARCH 9
Kristian Lei tells story of her career in concert
Singer Kristian Lei has enough career highlights to fill an album, and that’s exactly what she’s done with her new CD, featured in a concert Saturday at Leeward Community College.
“We decided about a year ago that we wanted to create a project that reflected me and what I’ve gone through in my career,” she said. “So we decided to put in songs where I actually played the lead role. … One of the songs is from ‘Miss Saigon’; another is ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from ‘Les Miz.’ That was what actually got me into the show, the first show I ever auditioned for.”
She also will sing the Carpenters’ hit “Close to You.” She would sing it for her brother, who has cerebral palsy, as a lullaby. “I grew up taking care of him, so at night I would sing to him his favorite song,” she said. “I remade all of this to make it into a Broadway-pop compilation.”
Other than working on the CD, Lei has been keeping busy teaching voice and working on her Honolulu Broadway Babies shows, which she runs as fundraisers for cerebral palsy research. “It’s always been my mission, it will be my lifelong mission, because it’s a part of me,” said Lei, whose credits include roles in “Festival of the Lion King” at Hong Kong Disneyland, local productions of “The King and I” and a Hoku nomination for best religious album in 2008.
Saturday’s show will be more than just singing. It’s described as “baring the truth” about Lei’s career, from achievements to defeats.
Featuring a live band that includes a string quartet, the show features Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner Mihana Souza, an aunt of Lei’s, and a surprise guest from Lei’s days performing “Miss Saigon” in Germany.
“We designed it so if it does really well and it’s received well, it could travel around the world,” the singer said.
Where: Leeward Community College Theatre
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Info: kristianlei.com or 979-6557
SATURDAY, MARCH 9
Festival celebrates new, rebuilt canoes
Grab a paddle and head out to the fourth annual Kualoa/Hakipu’u Canoe Festival at Kualoa Beach Park on Saturday.
This year’s festival features the blessing of a new canoe, the Kauluokamoana (“growth of the open ocean”), built by canoe builder Nakoa Prejean and members of Hui Malama o ke Kai, a Waimanalo youth club.
“The kids will be steering the canoe and taking people out for rides,” said Prejean, proprietor of Hawaiian Ocean Adventures.
Teenage club members helped with the construction of the $20,000 canoe, building models and working on molding some of its fiberglass/composite parts.
The Kauluokamoana is a classic, eight-person vessel similar to the wave-riders one might see at Waikiki. “Since it was for the kids, we made it a bit more industrial for them, more heavy-duty,” Prejean said, referring to extra flotation technology built into the canoe. “They like climbing all over it, riding on the ama (outrigger).”
Also featured at the festival will be a rebuilt canoe by Bobby Puakea, whose Puakea Foundation promotes traditional canoe- and paddle-building. Puakea will display and discuss his restoration of the Honolulu Pearl Canoe Club’s koa canoe, the Honaunau, which was severely damaged two years ago during a race at Nanakuli.
Puakea witnessed the wreck, recalling how the waves built up quickly and slammed the boat on shore. “Literally about two-thirds of it was completely destroyed,” he said. “You could only pray. You tell yourself ‘Flip, flip, flip the canoe!’ and that will slow it down, because once you get on a wave — holy mackerel — you’re surfing.”
Puakea, with help from canoe club members, has rebuilt the vessel. “People can’t believe it now because it’s all back together,” he said.
Where: Kualoa Beach Park
When: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday
Info: Iris Fukunaga, city camp specialist, 237-8525
TUESDAY, MARCH 12
Join astronomy institute for rare glimpse of comet
Here’s hoping the skies are clear Tuesday night: That’s when a comet first discovered by the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy will be at its most visible.
To mark the return of the comet Pan-STARRS to the night sky, the institute will host a free comet-viewing event from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Magic Island. The scientists will provide binoculars and telescopes to help participants see the comet as it moves into its closest point to Earth.
Comet Pan-STARRS, named after the telescope in the Haleakala Observatory on Maui, will be visible just above the western horizon after sunset, starting at about 6:30. Once the comet moves out of view at about 7:30, astronomers will stick around for a stargazing session until about 9 p.m.
Faculty member Roy Gal said people should bring their own binoculars from home, if possible, as they will be just as effective or even better than the telescopes. “They’re best for viewing because they offer a bigger field of view, so you can see more of the comet’s tails. Even compact binoculars will offer a good view.”
The moon will be just a thin crescent Tuesday, so “if the weather holds, it should be a picturesque night,” Gal said. “This should be a great event for kids and families.
“Comets this bright are usually only visible once or twice in a decade, but not from Hawaii, so it’s fortunate that we’ll able to view a comet that was first discovered here in the islands.”
Where: Magic Island, Picnic Area 36 (Ewa side, close to lagoon)
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Info: ifa.hawaii.edu/specialevents or 956-8312
– Gary Chun