Island Mele: ‘A Timeless Princess’ revisits dark time in Hawaiian history
“A Timeless Princess” opens July 11 for a limited run in the Mamiya Theatre. It is an important milestone in local theater.
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“A TIMLESS PRINCESS”
Various Artists (Edgewater LLC)
Seen with the wisdom of hindsight, Queen Lili‘uokalani’s decision to rely on the government of the United States to renounce the action of its local representative in 1893, as the government of Great Britain had done 50 years previously, was a tragic error. The U.S. did not intervene, and the queen’s decision to formally abdicate in 1895, to save the lives of the Hawaiian patriots who tried and failed to restore the monarchy, allowed annexationists to claim they held legal title to the islands when they engineered Hawaii’s takeover by the U.S. in 1898.
But you may disagree.
Almost all historical events are open to interpretation, and many believe that Lili‘uokalani did the right thing, or at least the more noble thing, in both cases. Hawaiian music veteran Denny Miyasato advances that view of Lili‘uokalani’s decisions with his first full-length musical, “A Timeless Princess.”
The show opens July 11 for a limited run in the Mamiya Theatre. It is an important milestone in local theater.
The liner notes for this companion album puts forth Miyasato’s theme — “the Queen saved tens of thousands of lives by standing down against the resistance.” Unfortunately, the liner notes don’t include a synopsis of the story, and the lyrics provide only cryptic glimpses. Someone goes back in time from the present to 1893. They must not under any circumstances kiss Princess Kaiulani while they’re there. And there’s a mysterious pendant, which someone apparently sacrifices their soul to possess, which gives someone in 2019 the power to conquer the world.
The most memorable song, “Me Oh, My Oh,” captures Hawaii as it is today: The concerns of residents who have been priced out of the housing market are juxtaposed with the views of outsiders who see Hawaii as just another place where they can bamboozle the natives, make huge profits, and move on.
Most of the other songs are expository: The preparations for time travel; the warning about not kissing Kaiulani; the time traveller’s experiences. Are we surprised that Kaiulani apparently finds something of a kindred spirit in the mysterious time traveller?
The final songs are more jarring. A woman propositions a Marine. Someone revels in the power that comes with possession of the pendant. There’s a third song that is sung beautifully in Hawaiian; but with no translation provided it will be understood and appreciated only by those fluent in ‘olelo Hawai‘i.
It will all make sense when stage version opens next week.