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No birth certificate needed to verify Obama’s old Arcadia job

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Emmet White

Arcadia residents are delighted that a longtime rumor has been confirmed: President Barack Obama, Hawaii’s best-known celebrity, once worked in food services at the Punahou Street retirement complex while attending Punahou School.

Emmet White, Arcadia president and CEO, went to the source since in-house records could not verify this small bit of Obama history. "Imperfect memories are not good enough," White said in a letter to Obama at the White House, "so we ask (for) your recollection."

The president responded, "I remember those days in Punahou and my time working at Arcadia, and I am still influenced by the aloha spirit and all the wonderful people of Hawaii. I learned so much from my family, my friends and teachers during that time."

The Arcadia factor made sense, since the home is equidistant between Punahou and Obama’s one-time Beretania Street residence. The president moved to Honolulu from Jakarta, Indonesia, when his parents’ marriage crumbled, and he lived with his maternal grandmother, Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham, whom he called "Toot," short for "tutu."

Besides a framed letter signed by the president, Arcadia hopes to install a small plaque to commemorate the Obama link – yet another landmark reflecting Obama’s youth in the Islands. …


Bree Bumatai

ENCHANTED EVENING: Manoa Valley Theatre’s Bree Bumatai recently returned from a whirlwind Broadway visit with her other half, John Peters, and they saw seven shows, including "Billy Elliot," "The Addams Family," "Next to Normal," "God of Carnage" and "South Pacific." Bumatai also revisited "Avenue Q," reconnecting with puppeteer pal Pam Arciero, who will come to MVT as a puppetry specialist and trainer since the Tony Award-winning show will open there next March. Arciero and Bumatai studied puppetry at Kennedy Theatre here; Arciero went on to work with Children’s Television Workshop ("Sesame Street"). …

It was a touching visit when Bumatai went to see Loretta Ables Sayre in "South Pacific" at Lincoln Center. When Ables Sayre first got the Bloody Mary role, she asked Bumatai to send a picture of her late husband Ray Bumatai so Ables Sayre could stuff it into her character’s purse to enable Ray to appear on Broadway every night – something he deserved but never got. Ray and Ables Sayre co-starred in Diamond Head Theatre’s "You Somebody" when cancer affected his vision, but had earlier history together in Honolulu Theatre for Youth’s "Song of the Navigator," the show that triggered a romance between Ray and Bree. …

TRADE WINDS: It was a Father’s Day gift Lloyd Kandell will never forget, when his screenwriting twin sons Aaron and Jordan Kandell’s "The Happiest Man Alive" short premiered at the recent Maui Film Festival. Directed by Andrew M. Goodman, the film stars Justin Chambers ("Grey’s Anatomy"), Cindy Williams ("Laverne and Shirley") and Megan Hilty ("Wicked"). Additionally, the cheering audience included Zac Efron ("High School Musical," "17 Again"), Kenny Ortega ("This Is It") and Josh Radnor ("How I Met Your Mother"). …

Orchids to Dwight T. Martin, Manoa Valley Theatre producing director, whose service and savvy earned him the American Association of Community Theatre’s David C. Bryant Outstanding Service Award last week in Washington, D.C. …

And that’s "Show Biz." …

Read Wayne Harada’s Show and Tell Hawaii blog at Reach him at 266-0926 or


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