Play Review: “Da Mayah” by Lee Cataluna

Play: “Da Mayah” by Lee Cataluna
Starring: Anna-Marie Love, Eddy Gudoy, Troy M. Apostol, Jarod Bilon, Stu Hirayama and Karen Hironaga
Venue: Kumu Kahua Theater
Genre:  Comedy
Date Watched: Sunday, September 7, 2008
Showtimes:  Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm through September 28, 2008
Tickets:  $16.00 General Admission.  Thursday night specials:  $13.00 General, $5.00 Student.  Available at Honolulu Box Office

"Da Mayah"

Synopsis (taken from the “Da Mayah” page on the Kumu Kahua web site)

The newly-elected mayor of Hilo, Lester Perez (campaign slogan: “Do What He Sez!”), is not too bright, but his administrative assistant, second in command and mistress Sandralene Leialoha Ferreira, manages fairly successfully to keep him from making a complete fool of himself.

When Lester is blackmailed by a childhood friend, Derek Pang, Sandy enlists the aid of her gangster cousin Dukie and his hit man Stanton, who has “a rap sheet thicker than the Bible” and a crush on Sandy. The action takes us from the mayor’s office to Jazzmin’s Karaoke Bar and Washerette (“Karaoke solo $1.50, duet $4.00”), bringing to play assassination attempts, betrayals and bad plate lunches.

Thoughts

I didn’t have the privilege of seeing the original play a decade ago but I’m glad I got to see it now.  The play is just HILARIOUS with many a ROFLMAO moments.  Cataluna’s wit shines through as she pokes fun at local culture, government workers, current events and spoofs many a karaoke tune.

The play incorporates a generous amount of musical spoofs worthy of a Frank De Lima show (am I dating myself???) and the acting and vocal work by everyone shines through, especially star Anna-Marie Love as Sandrelene Leialoha Ferreira who was just brilliant in her role.

Troy Apostol’s role as Stanton the hit man definitely stole the show for my money though.  Stanton the Manton probably delivered the most LMAO moments of the film (aside from Sandralene herself) in his “Wile E. Coyote” like attempts to knock off Mayoral tormentor Derek Pang.  Cataluna’s screenplay just needed the “Acme” devices to get everything right.

On the “sad but true” side of the ledger, play Director R. Kevin Garcia Doyle probably put things best in his Director’s Notes (both from his original tenure in 1998 and the current 2008 productions).  To paraphrase Doyle’s words:

1998 Notes:  In regard to Mayah Lester Perez, “he represents all the ineptitude and the worst we think of politicians…he’s inarticulate…has questionable ethics…rewards his friends with high paying jobs regardless of qualifications…works with the underworld…cuts vital social programs…his Second-in-Command makes all the vital decisions…he’s helpless in face of economic woes…and ultimately he doesn’t give a damn about the folks who put him in office.”

2008 Notes:  “Wow, did Lee Cataluna totally call the last 8 years or what?”

The Verdict

“Da Mayah” is a brilliant play.  It is funny and witty and seeing a bigger than life slice of local culture is refreshing with the 8 billion references to local life and local events.  The music is contagious and the acting is top notch from where I sat.
Don’t miss this one.

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