The age-old show business adage “The show must go on!” has never been more of a challenge for Hawaii’s theater groups to live up to that in this time of mandated shutdowns and social-distancing protocols. Several groups are streaming live performances online. Kailua Onstage Arts and Diamond Head Theatre have been presenting drive-in productions with the audience watching from their parked cars.
Diamond Head Theatre Artistic Director John Rampage introduces a third option starting Friday with DHT’s 2020-2021 season- opening production of “Mele Kalikimaka, Honolulu!” Audiences of 115 people will be seated in the historic theater to watch an hourlong musical revue reminiscent of the old-time Christmas specials of Andy Williams and Perry Como; there will be some contemporary favorites as well. Audience members and performers alike will observe social-distancing requirements.
“It is a challenge, because you don’t know day to day how you’re going to have to adjust your original plans,” Rampage said by phone last weekend. “Obviously we had hoped that by the time this Christmas show came along we would have moved into a new tier, which would have allowed more interaction with the cast, but it’s something, and I think people really want to be part of the season, so we’ll adapt.”
Rampage and the cast adapted by doing most of the rehearsing online. Cast members got onstage last week to plot the choreography involved in putting on a show, while maintaining at least 10 feet of distance between each other.
The program includes “(Everybody’s Waitin’ for) The Man With the Bag,” “O Holy Night,” “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Silent Night,” “Mele Kalikimaka” and a medley of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”/”Jingle Bell Rock” — 19 songs in all.
The cast consists of five adults and five children. The adults are Shari Lynn, Tricia Marciel, Jennifer Sojot, Olivia Manayan and Will Thomson, with Lindsay Rabe ready to step in if needed. The children are Caris Leong, Rockell Kim, Pono Lundell, Rocco Bechirian and Jenelle Wong (who alternates with Arya Tonnes).
Rampage promises to make it “as theatrical” as he can.
“We’re doing everything we possibly can to make this as fun and exciting of a Christmas event as possible,” he said. “The cast is just incredibly excited to be back doing what they were doing.”
Looking forward into 2021, Rampage and DHT are accommodating what some people call the “new normal” in public entertainment.
“We’re concentrating on only doing one-act things for a while, so that we can eliminate intermissions, which of course is a lot of intermingling between people,” he said.