Art parallels life this month for Joe Moore and Pat Sajak, as the two longtime friends star as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in playwright Bernard Sabath’s "The Boys in Autumn."
In this story about old friends reconnecting after many years apart, Sabath appropriated Mark Twain’s best-known characters. Moore and Sajak can relate.
They met in Vietnam. Moore was a newscaster with the American Forces Vietnam Network in Saigon. Sajak was in Saigon on Armed Forces Radio. They lost touch after that, until Sajak saw Moore in an episode of "Hawaii Five-0" and contacted him through the production office. They’ve kept in touch off and on ever since.
‘THE BOYS IN AUTUMN’
Where: Hawaii Theatre
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday; continues at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. June 26 and 2 p.m. June 27
Cost: $17-$72 (discounts available). $72 VIP tickets include premium seating and autographed playbill/photograph.
Info: 528-0506, www.hawaiitheatre.com
"It’s an interesting thing about guys getting older and getting back together," Moore last Saturday in a conference call from the KHON studios where he and Sajak were rehearsing. It’s the third time that Sajak has come to Hawaii to join Moore on stage.
Sajak was Felix Unger to Moore’s Oscar Madison in Moore’s production of "The Odd Couple" in 2001, and Ed Norton to Moore’s Ralph Kramden in "The Honeymooners: The Lost Episodes" at the Hawaii Theatre in 2004.
This time it’s Sajak as Tom Sawyer and Moore as Huck Finn.
They open on Thursday.
"I love the idea of a catching up on the adventures of Huck and Tom, 50 years after we’ve last seen or heard from them," Moore said. "We find out what caused them to lose touch with each other. … There’s a lot of humor in the play, but it’s also very touching."
"There’s a real universal nature to this play, especially when you get to be our age," Sajak added. "This whole idea of recapturing your youth, reconnecting with your past — it really resonated with me."
AS with their previous shows together, Moore and Sajak are donating their time. All proceeds go to the Hawaii Theatre.
"It’s been an interesting (rehearsal process) because of the distances involved," Sajak said. "I spend most of my time on the East Coast, so it’s not as if I can drive down the street to have a rehearsal or spend weeks working on it.
"Obviously, we try to do it at a time when I’m not taping ("Wheel of Fortune"), … but even with that, we have to telescope the amount of time that we spend."
Current technology made rehearsing somewhat easier. Thanks to time spent on Skype, the free long-distance telephone service, the two old friends had many basics worked out before Sajak arrived last Friday.
"We already have a pretty good sense of the relationship," Sajak said. "It really helps when you can do that ahead of time."
He and Moore went in different directions after Vietnam, but both found success. Moore has been Hawaii’s top-rated television news anchor for years. Sajak is in his 28th year hosting the longest-running syndicated game show in television history.
Sajak says hosting a game show goes against a "natural performing instinct, which is to be the center of attention. You have to remember that as clever as you might think you are, people are (watching the show) to see that wheel go around and see people win money. … Whatever personality you bring to the show, you try to do it in a way that doesn’t get in the way of the game."
Aspiring television newscasters may dream of a news anchor job as their personal showcase, but Hawaii’s most-watched news anchor likens himself to that "favorite pair of old shoes" you get resoled and refurbished, because you like the fit and don’t want to go through the hassle of breaking in a new pair.
"Sometimes I think that’s what a TV audience does when it comes to a newscast," he said, contemplating his career. "They get comfortable with the anchor."