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Show Biz: Loretta Ables Sayre’s upcoming ‘South Pacific’ role affected by coronavirus

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / 2018
                                “I turn 62 in a couple of weeks, so I feel like I am right in the bull’s-eye of the people most affected by this virus,” Broadway star Loretta Ables Sayre said. “We will protect ourselves every way that we can, but we really hope that everyone else does, too. Scary times.”

    STAR-ADVERTISER / 2018

    “I turn 62 in a couple of weeks, so I feel like I am right in the bull’s-eye of the people most affected by this virus,” Broadway star Loretta Ables Sayre said. “We will protect ourselves every way that we can, but we really hope that everyone else does, too. Scary times.”

For Broadway star Loretta Ables Sayre, these have been trying and tenuous times.

The good news: She has been tapped to re-create her Tony-nominated Bloody Mary role in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific,” this summer at the Goodspeed Theatre in East Haddam, Conn.

Even with the cloud of the novel coronavirus threat, she and husband, David Sayre, caught a flight to Connecticut a week or so ago, anticipating rehearsals for the launch of the Tony Award-­winning musical.

The bad news: The coronavirus crisis became a major concern, and the producers decided to postpone the run for a couple of months. Ables Sayre had the option to remain in Connecticut for a few weeks to see how the viral situation would play out, but rather than wait out further uncertainties, Ables Sayre flew home. This, after 20 hours of flight time getting there, and as much time to return.

Now, like the rest of us, she’s watching daily cable news updates on the mounting spread of the virus and how nations are grappling with the new protocol of how we live our lives, including new language and terms, like social distancing, the suggested 6-foot space between folks; “leveling the line,” referring to the visual graphics of the ups and downs of coronavirus and shrinking numbers, from 250 to 50 and now 10, referring to acceptable crowd size.

“I turn 62 in a couple of weeks, so I feel like I am right in the bull’s-eye of the people most affected by this virus,” she said. “We will protect ourselves every way that we can, but we really hope that everyone else does, too. Scary times.”

As one member of the mammoth Broadway community, distance always is a key issue for Ables Sayre. She resides in Mililani-­Mauka on Oahu, so an audition may require a plane ride. Likewise, to work, she has to travel, then commute from a hotel to the venue. But she was fully prepared for this journey, armed with wipes, antibacterial supplies, masks, gloves and Airborne, along with a lot of hope, and no doubt, prayers.

But now Broadway has gone dark. For how long, it’s uncertain. So now, her show also is on standby.

“My profession and all of us who have chosen this field are seeing the decimation of our career choices and future before us. The arts have always lifted our spirits and given us hope, and to see all of these people and the crews that support our craft without jobs, is devastating,” Ables Sayre said.

“I am worried for all of my Broadway pals who, in essence, ‘lost’ their jobs with no notice. I am worried for how this will affect all possible Tony nominees, since this is the time (April) that the Tony nomination voters start seeing shows, and vote. How will all the actors who lost their jobs get by for a month? Will unemployment cover that?” Even the fate of the June 7 Tony Awards, a tradition, is likely to be postponed. “So many questions, so many worries,” she said. …

THE HAMILTONIANS

Two Hawaii actors have roles in separate productions of “Hamilton,” the invincible Broadway megahit. One, Marc delaCruz, in the ensemble of the flagship production at ground zero in New York, is jobless now. “Hamilton” had been a sell-out, logging $2 million-plus weekly grosses, but now has been upended by coronavirus. Another Hawaii actor, Joseph Morales, who is playing the titular role in a national tour of “Hamilton,” also experienced a cancellation on March 14 of his Toronto tour dates.

Neither was available for comment. …

CALENDAR UPDATES

That tribute to Joy Abbott, the widow of Broadway icon George Abbott, set for this Saturday at Thurston Chapel at Punahou School, has been postponed in the wake of coronavirus concerns. A rescheduled date will be announced later. …

Desperate times have altered Manoa Valley Theatre’s “the show must go on” mantra, so the opening of “Desperate Measures” last week has been delayed till May 13-31. Further, MVT has canceled its next show, “The Games Afoot,” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, a pair of MVT Studio Series shows are canceled, with no new dates: Frank De Lima (March 31) and Azure McCall (April 6). But Hot Club of Hulaville’s May 25 gig is firm for now. Further, MVT’s Manoa Marquee gala set for April 18 at Waialae Country Club will be rescheduled. …

Diamond Head Theatre’s “The Bodyguard,” set to open last week, has been pushed back to run April 10-May 23. The theater is focusing on reassignment of seats. Its usual opening cocktail reception is planned for April 17. …

Kumu Kahua Theatre also has postponed last week’s launch of “The Conversion of Ka‘ahumanu,” but new dates have not been announced. …

And TAG, The Actors’ Group, has suspended operations till further notice. Refunds or other compensation will be available after the crisis subsides. For inquiries, go to tag@hawaii.rr.com. …

WHEE, THE PEOPLE

When jazz musician John Kolivas was teaching student Karen Rogers at the Aloha Music Camp, two unexpected guests showed up: Keola Beamer, the long-time Maui resident for whom Kolivas has played bass, and Paul Simon, the international star who was on Maui for a gig. Who doesn’t love a surprise?

“She’s blind, and Paul was very kind to her, conversing for about 10 minutes,” Kolivas said. …

At jazz saxophonist Michael Paulo’s recent concert at the Hawai‘i Convention Center, he hauled up his dad, Rene Paulo — for decades a Waikiki favorite at the keyboards — to join in during the finale. Yep, it capped a memorable evening. …

And that’s “Show Biz.”


Wayne Harada is a veteran entertainment columnist. Reach him at 266-0926 or wayneharada@gmail.com.


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