The Theatre Blog: “A Jivebomber’s Christmas” at Kumu Kahua

Kumu Kahua’s latest production, “A Jivebomber’s Christmas”  is just the thing to help you get into that Holiday spirit.  You even get a cookie for your efforts!  (No kidding — read below for more info!)

Jivebomber's Christmas

Here’s a brief synopsis of the play courtesy of the Kumu Kahua website:

It’s Christmas, 1943, but nobody feels like celebrating. The world is at war and the soldiers of the 442nd Battalion are fighting in Europe, while at home, Japanese Americans are being illegally detained in internment camps. A group of kids, raised on jazz and jive, social clubs and swing dancing, decides to raise the camp’s spirits–with a Christmas show.

Filled with song and dance, laughter and warmth, A Jivebomber’s Christmas arrives at Kumu Kahua just in time for the holidays.

The show’s been playing since November 10 and will close next Sunday, December 11 but I couldn’t in good conscience see a Christmas play before Thanksgiving so I put it off till this weekend to finally catch.  In my humble opinion, the show was very much worth the wait and it definitely lifted my spirits and I had a great time enjoying this great show put on by a great cast!  [Note:  I endured an hour of backed up Holiday traffic and road closures in downtown to get to Kumu to see this so that says something as I was pretty amped up when I finally got to the theatre!]

As mentioned in the synopsis the show captures the trials of Japanese Americans during WWII.  The first Act of the play focuses on life in the internment camp where the detainees lament the injustice of their situation, anxiety over the safety of their loved ones fighting in Europe and the distinct lack of Holiday spirit in the camp.  This is spliced with cut scenes to life in the European theatre as the 442 boys write letters back home to their loved ones in the internment camp.  The internees resolve to put on a Holiday show to  celebrate the season and lift everyone’s spirits.  Probably the most powerful scene in Act I was the character of Jackson, the eponymous “Jivebomber” (played by Chevy Martinez) challenging the unseen camp guard to gun him down.  If I had to describe the first act it would definitely be melancholy yet powerful.

Contrast this to the 2nd Act which was upbeat and FUN!  The entire 2nd Act consisted basically of the planned Holiday show at the camp which I would put right up there with any variety show you’ve ever seen.  The cast sang, danced, joked and magic tricked their way into the audience’s heart.  What made the 2nd Act even more special for me was it’s interactive nature.  During dance scenes the cast would pull audience members out of the seats to join in on the fun.  At one point members of the cast played the role of wait help and came out handing juice and cookies to us in the audience (hey, if you feed me you’re an automatic winner no matter what, lol).  The play wraps up with the cast singing a variety of Christmas carols which we in the audience are invited to sing a long with.  It was just an awesome way to end the show.

Cast standouts for me were definitely Jessica Kauhane’s portrayal of Mitzi Kagayama.  This is my 3rd time seeing Kauhane on stage (previous appearances in KKT’s “It’s All Relative” and TAG’s “Miso”) and she gets better and better each time I see her.  As an actress I just love her delivery and comedic timing (I had a few LOL moments) and in this particular production she had a chance to demonstrate an awesome set of pipes with a few show stealing numbers 🙂  The other cast standout for me was the aforementioned Martinez who also had a ton of LOL moments.  The scene with the guard in Act I was also a standout moment.

“A Jivebomber’s Christmas” closes this week. You can catch it today and next Sun (12/4 and 12/11) at 2pm and Thursday, Friday and Saturday (12/8, 9, 10/11) at 8pm. Tickets and more information at

http://www.kumukahua.org/plays.html

Thanh Apostolides, Jarod Kamamo Bailon, Nahe Bailon, Maka Bailon, Ron Encarnacion, Daren Kimura, Jenny Kimura, Regina Lozano, Mike Malone, Christianne Michel, Royce Okazaki and Henry Zane Gulliver Williams round up the rest of this ultra talented cast.

Highest Recommendation.  Happy Holidays!

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2 responses to “The Theatre Blog: “A Jivebomber’s Christmas” at Kumu Kahua

  1. You had me at free cookie! LOL Wow, I didn’t hear about this play. I’ve never been to an interactive play before…this intrigues me.

    • Ah, you must come out with me and catch these awesome shows 🙂 I frequent plays at Kumu and TAG the most (occasionally MVT). Kumu’s got an excellent line-up this season. Check out their site! I’m a season ticket holder so jump in with me 🙂 They have student rates of $5.00 on Thursday nights. Catch it if you’re free this week!

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