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					A 'nite' to remember - The Honolulu Advertiser - Hawaii's Newspaper                                                       Page 1 of 8




                                                                                  April 22, 2005



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                          By Wayne Harada
   The Site
                          Advertiser Entertainment Writer
   Our Archives
   Classifieds            Terence Knapp, an actor and director, vividly
                          recalls the day James Grant Benton, then a
Back Issues               comedian and actor, banged on his office door
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                          at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa, shouting,
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                                                                               a comic Chinese duo, in "twelf
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                                                                               nite 'o WATEVA" at the Kennedy
                                                                               Theatre.
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                          months and was very curious about me and             Honolulu Advertiser                  Manager
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                          do an informal Shakespeare seminar."

                          That, in essence, was the day "twelf nite o'
                          WATEVA" was born. A cadre of innocent,
                          inexperienced student actors would gather in
                          Knapp's office and talk story, do dialects and       From left, Jabez Armodia, Alvin
                                                                               Chan and Chi Ho Law rehearse
                          explore Elizabethan cadence, not initially           while Anji Scalf adjusts a
                          anticipating a rewrite of the Bard. But from         costume. The play, by the late
                                                                               James Grant Benton, originally
                          such a simple beginning, Benton put the pidgin       featured members of the




http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Apr/22/en/en01a.html                                                        4/22/2005
A 'nite' to remember - The Honolulu Advertiser - Hawaii's Newspaper                                            Page 2 of 8



                      spin on "Twelfth Night or What You Will,"           comedy troupe Booga Booga.
                                                                          This production, says Terence
                      lovingly transforming it into local lingo.          Knapp, has "lovely new talent."


                      The rest is local history.

                      Using the original script he has cherished since,
                      Knapp, 73, an emeritus professor of drama and
                      theater at UH, will restage "WATEVA"
                      starting tonight on the Kennedy Theatre's main
                      stage, where the odyssey began. The revival is
                      doubly significant: It will be Knapp's ultimate     From left, Armodia and Jamy
                                                                          Torres bring aloha humor and
                      homage to Benton and also his swan song —           attire to Benson's take on
                      the nightcap to a bountiful 35-year run at          Shakespeare. The production will
                                                                          be the last directed by Terence
                      Kennedy Theatre.                                    Knapp at Kennedy Theatre.


                      "It's my sayonara production, and as I thought
                      about retirement, I figured it would be lovely to   'TWELF NITE O' WATEVA'
                      restage 'WATEVA' to remember Jim," said
                      Knapp.                                              James Grant Benton's adaptation
                                                                          of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night
                                                                          or What You Will."
                      Benton, of course, was one of the pillars of
                      Booga Booga, the local-comedy trio with Ed          Opens at 8 p.m. today; repeats
                                                                          at 8 p.m. Saturday (interpreted
                      Ka'ahea and the late Rap Reiplinger. Benton         in sign language for the deaf), at
                      died of an apparent heart attack May 28, 2002,      8 p.m. Thursday and April 29-30,
                                                                          and at 2 p.m. May 1
                      at age 53. His ingenious and often irreverent
                      creation has never dimmed — it was the little       Kennedy Theatre
                      play that could, would, and did change local
                      theater considerably, a labor of love not lost on   $15 general; $12 seniors,
                                                                          military, UH faculty and staff;
                      the generation of playwrights that would follow     $10 students; $3 UH-Manoa
                      him.                                                students

                                                                          956-7655, 944-2697,
                      "I do think James Grant Benton was a kupuna         etickethawaii.com
                      for many of the Hawai'i playwrights who came
                      after," said Lee Cataluna, who writes plays         Also: Pre-show chat with

                      using local characters and lingo and is also an
                                                                          Tony Pisculli, R. Kevin Doyle and
                      Advertiser columnist. "His work, with Booga         Harry Wong III at 7 p.m.
                      Booga and on his own, was really                    Saturday and with Terence
                                                                          Knapp at 7 p.m. April 30; "Bard's
                      groundbreaking stuff. For a lot of future local     Birthday Bash," 6 p.m. Sunday,
                      writers, it was the first time we even              Kennedy Theatre main stage;
                                                                          free
                      considered the possibility that local characters,
                      dialogue and story lines could take to the stage.   From Bard to Bruddah
                      Theater wasn't just about Oklahoma or New
                                                                          Here's a look at how James Grant
                      York or Merrie Olde England."                       Benton translated Shakespeare's
                                                                          English into pidgin English.
                      Or, as Harry Wong III, artistic director of
                                                                          Shakespeare's version:
                      Kumu Kahua, the theater group that regularly
                      showcases plays with local themes and pidgin,       Orsino, Duke of Illyria: "O, she
                      puts it: "The play definitely made its impact.      that hath a heart of that fine
                                                                          frame.




http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Apr/22/en/en01a.html                                             4/22/2005
A 'nite' to remember - The Honolulu Advertiser - Hawaii's Newspaper                                            Page 3 of 8



                      It's true, in Shakespeare's time, that              To pay this debt of love but to a
                                                                          brother,
                      Shakespeare knew his audience, so he set
                      'Twelfth Night' in Italy, but he made references    How will she love when the rich
                      to places and streets in England, knowing his       golden shaft
                      audience would get it. You start with, 'Oh, let's
                                                                          Hath kill'd the flock of all
                      go pick up some girls; where should we go,          affections else
                      Hotel Street?' Professor Knapp and James
                      Grant Benton were feeding off that, making the      That live in her; when liver,
                                                                          brain and heart,
                      play more accessible."
                                                                          These sovereign thrones, are all
                      Lisa Matsumoto, author of and actress in a          supplised and fill'd,

                      trilogy of "Once Upon One Time" pidgin
                                                                          Her sweet perfections, with one
                      English musicals that explore classic fairy         self king!
                      tales, said she remembers seeing "twelf nite"
                      after working on a few of her early shows. She      Away before me to sweet beds
                                                                          of flow'rs:
                      loved the notion of adapting the Bard.
                                                                          Love-thoughts lie rich when
                      "It was a wonderful translation and I especially    canopied with bow'rs."

                      love the idea of 'localizing' Shakespeare and
                                                                          Benton's version (as seen on the
                      'bringing him home,' " she said. "Shakespeare's     TGIF cover page):
                      work is well-suited for pidgin, especially with
                      all of his diverse and colorful characters.         Amalu: "Ho, shucks, she wit one
                                                                          fine heart going give all her
                                                                          aloha to one bruddah dat already
                                                                          said aloha! If she going keep dis
                      "Terence Knapp ... used to have me do               up, she for sure going lose all da
                      Shakespeare monologues in pidgin so that I          love dat she get in her. Auwe!
                                                                          What a waste. All dat fo one
                      could better 'connect' with the character and       dead bruddah. Alika, take me
                      essence of the scene, way back when I was an        away and bury me in one bed of
                                                                          pikake, cause love-thoughts are
                      acting student. I found it to be an extremely       sick when covered wit flowers."
                      helpful, not to mention fun, exercise. And I'm
                      sure that also influenced my work with pidgin adaptations."

                      But the Benton pidgin concoction, with its local ingredients and flavors,
                      didn't happen overnight, said Knapp.

                      "We would sit in my office, with readings of the play, doing scenes in
                      English, regional accents or dialects, like Cockney or Scots or Welsh, and
                      none were awfully good," he recalled. "Even the Texan. We met regularly.
                      All most could imitate was Scarlett O'Hara, and when I suggested pidgin,
                      the students all said, 'Teachers don't like it.' Well, I told them, bugger the
                      school teacher; I'm in charge here. It was enormous fun."

                      In 1974, Knapp had scooted off to Japan to do a Japanese production of
                      "Twelfth Night," called "Junniya," which won a critics' award. It featured a
                      Beatles-type band on stage, with costumes that had Carnaby Street origins.

                      That radical version didn't rattle his cage, but when he returned from that
                      trip, Knapp was confronted with "a heavy parcel of paper from Jim, who
                      said, 'Oh, dis for you, and we have to do it.' It was his adaptation of 'Twelfth



http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Apr/22/en/en01a.html                                             4/22/2005
A 'nite' to remember - The Honolulu Advertiser - Hawaii's Newspaper                                       Page 4 of 8



                      Night,' and I told him, 'I have three productions already.' "

                      As it turned out, the show was mounted during the Christmas season as a
                      Lab Theatre production, with Ka'ahea, then a student of Knapp's, and
                      Benton, also a student convert, finagling further comedic participation from
                      their Booga buddy Reiplinger.

                      "You can imagine what a wonderful experience that was," said Knapp. "I
                      was so happy, we took it to the Leeward side. Audiences had so much fun I
                      thought the walls would cave in."

                      Knapp, the Shakespeare wizard, said Benton had it all down pat.

                      "He was terribly true to Shakespeare's plot," said Knapp. "He did not amend
                      any circumstance in the play, and that's why I consented to do it with him.
                      He respected character; he did have delightfully persuasive Hawaiian
                      surroundings."

                      Where his original was blessed by the presence of the Booga Booga
                      ensemble, Knapp is greeting "lovely new talent. ... I have my fingers crossed
                      and am hopeful this will all work out," he said. "We have 'ukulele players,
                      even hula. We wanted to add 'Livin' on Easy,' that hapa-haole song, and
                      were hard-pressed to find the right version, and thanks to Donald Yap and
                      Wisa D'Orso, we have it now."

                      Knapp said the "WATEVA" revival has the blessing of Deborah Benton, the
                      author's widow, who plans to attend with members of the family.

                      "She did tell me, when I got the consent to do the show again, that this early
                      version is the one he really loved best. Along the way, some changes were
                      made. I know nothing about those. I originally directed with the script I
                      have."

                      Curiously, "Twelfth Night" is Knapp's all-time Shakespeare favorite.

                      "It's the play I love best, because it's the first performance I gave, in 1954 in
                      Liverpool, where Brian Epstein (who found and managed The Beatles early
                      on) was just around the corner," he said. "I played one of the clowns, Feste
                      (a servant), so the play is close to my heart. I've directed it three times (not
                      including the pidgin version), and it's a delightful comedy, with the touch of
                      the Marx Brothers, with really silly people doing silly things, conveying to
                      the audience the lunacy of life. It's all about falling in love, wanting to love,
                      willing to love."

                                             He was moved to re-stage the play when he attended
                                             Benton's funeral in 2002. And the intent was to bring
                                             the work full cycle, back to the Kennedy stage, where
                                             it all began.



http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Apr/22/en/en01a.html                                        4/22/2005
A 'nite' to remember - The Honolulu Advertiser - Hawaii's Newspaper                                             Page 5 of 8



                                                 This production will be a lot more elegant than the
                                                 humble original. "Joe Dodd has done a stunning set;
                                                 Sandra Finney is designing the costumes. The look
                                                 and feel will be like the late '20s, early '30s Matson
                                                 liner menu — very nice," said Knapp.

                                                 His original text was so beaten up and faded, Knapp
                                                 had a secretary "who went blind typing it up."
                       Playwright James Grant
                       Benton, in hat, had the   He still treasures the original and said "it has
                       role of Prince Amalu in   historical value. It will go into the archives, when I
                       the original Kennedy
                       Theatre production of     take my papers, my photos, and five scrapbooks
                       "twelf nite."             covering 35 years, with cuttings (newspaper
                                                 articles) ... to close the book."
                       Kennedy Theater

                      Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com, 525-8067 or
                      fax 525-8055.

                                                                •••

                      Curtain still calls: Breaking out in song or whatevah

                      "WATEVA" wraps up his life as a director — for
                      now, anyway — but Terence Knapp still has a lot on
                      his plate as he moves into retirement from his
                      University of Hawai'i teaching job.

                      He's winding up his three courses in voice production,
                      a Shakespeare seminar on studying plays and one on
                      monologues and auditions, along with his graduate-
                      level course on classic "great" roles, but he's also
                      prepping for the "Bard Bash XXXV: Shakespeare's               What's ahead for retiring
                                                                                    theater professor
                      Birthday," at 6 p.m. Sunday at Kennedy Theatre.               Terence Knapp? A lot.


                      "I don't have energy anymore for a 60-hour work week, nonstop, but there
                      are certain things I'd still like to do, things I haven't had time for," said
                      Knapp. "Like Chekov, in recital form, like a reading company with scripts. I
                      don't want to memorize anything anymore.

                      "And I'd like to sing, Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter and such in an 'Evening
                      With Terence Knapp' kind of a thing. Maybe with a guest artist, and
                      certainly with Donald Yap, with whom I did Fagin in 'Oliver!' and he was
                      m.d. (musical director). Donald is so brilliant."

                      As an emeritus professor, he will maintain an office at the Kennedy Theatre,
                      so he won't be totally retired.

                      And he'll perform in Diamond Head Theatre's 90th anniversary fund-raiser



http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Apr/22/en/en01a.html                                              4/22/2005
A 'nite' to remember - The Honolulu Advertiser - Hawaii's Newspaper                                        Page 6 of 8



                      April 30 at the Wai'alae Country Club, singing "How to Handle a Woman"
                      from "Camelot" while Beverly Noa dances, and help judge the National
                      Society of Arts & Letters' "Acting for Comedy" event May 20.

                                                                •••

                      Shakespeare in pidgin renders culture fo' all

                                                  They kibitzed and huddled backstage at Kennedy
                                                  Theatre Monday night, primping before mirrors,
                                                  fidgeting with their costumes, singing hapa-haole
                                                  songs.

                                                  It was loose and casual, with mana'o to spare, as
                                                  actors whipped out guitars and 'ukulele and shuffled
                                                  into party mode. The 'ohana spirit helped ease
                                                  nervousness. It was all part of the drill, as students
                       Kelcie Awo plays Honey
                       Boy and Lahela in "twelf   prepared for the first dress rehearsal of James Grant
                       nite o' WATEVA" at         Benton's "twelf nite o' WATEVA," premiering tonight
                       Kennedy Theatre.
                                                  with Terence Knapp at the helm.

                      "I wasn't going to audition," said Noelle Poole, 27, who plays Princess
                      Mahealani (the equivalent of Olivia), in the local adaptation of the
                      Shakespearean comedy. "But it's Terry's last show. I had to do it. I'm
                      comfortable with the character's love for everyone and how she easily falls
                      in love."

                      After a pause, she added: "And I'm sure he's up there, watching." The "he" is
                      Benton, the late comedian-actor-playwright, in whose memory the show is
                      being staged. He put the pidgin spin on Shakespeare; most of the cast have
                      heard his name, know of him particularly through the Booga Booga legacy,
                      but have never seen Benton on stage or in a previous "twelf nite."

                      Troy Apostol, 32, cast as Malolio (Malvolio), was invited by Knapp to join
                      the cast after they worked together in the Bard's "Much Ado About
                      Nothing."

                      "I was apprehensive at first ... about the pidgin," said Apostol. "The last
                      pidgin show I did was well over a decade ago. But I can relate to the
                      character — the uptightness, the theme of unrequited love — and while I
                      didn't experience Benton, my uncles and aunties still talk about and
                      remember him. I'm having great fun."

                      Kelcie Awo, 18, a University of Hawai'i freshman from Wai'anae, is making
                      her Kennedy debut as Lahela (Viola), the character also disguised as Honey
                      Boy. "I can relate: When I was little, I was such a tomboy," she said. "I
                      think I wanted to be a boy and used to play with the boys. So I cut my (long)
                      hair to look more butch."



http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Apr/22/en/en01a.html                                         4/22/2005
A 'nite' to remember - The Honolulu Advertiser - Hawaii's Newspaper                                   Page 7 of 8



                      Chi Ho Law, 23, originally from Hong Kong, and Alvin Chan, also 23,
                      adore their comedic banter as stereotypical Sir Andy Waha (Sir Andrew
                      Aguecheek) and Count Opunui (Toby Belch), respectively. Knapp altered
                      the Filipino and Hawaiian original roles to create a Chinese duo.

                      "The fact that Benton made Shakespeare accessible to a local crowd is
                      great," said Chan about the pidgin transformation and his reshaped nose. "I
                      was told I had to look a little different, they gave me a fake nose. And this
                      really is an ensemble effort; there is no leading character. It's fun."

                      Law said "pidgin was not something I was really into" because of his Hong
                      Kong heritage, but that living in Hawai'i for the past decade (he graduated
                      from Saint Louis) exposed him to the lingo.

                      Knapp lords over the rehearsal like a proud papa.

                      "I think Troy is just perfect," he said of Apostol's stage presence. "I saw
                      Olivier (Laurence Olivier) do this role, and Troy's as good, maybe better,"
                      said Knapp. "I know Jim's peeking over my shoulder — and smiling."

                      Or laughing.

                      The lines are classic, in the Booga Booga tradition.

                      Prince Amalu (Orsino) utters lines such as "not too sweet, not too rancid,
                      but just right" and "My love for her is deeper than Hanauma Bay ... and
                      more beautiful than the sunset at Makaha."

                      In the maiden voyage of the play, Benton portrayed Prince Amalu, Ed
                      Ka'ahea was Opunui and Rap Reiplinger was Lope.

                      "It was a dream cast," said Knapp.

                                                           •••

                        WHO'S WHO IN ‘WATEVA'
                        Bard's original             Benton's take            Played by
                        Orsino                      Prince Amalu             D.J. Wilkie
                        Attendant                   Kawika/Constable         Jay Castillo
                        Attendant                   Alika/Constable          Jordan Cairos
                        Viola                       Lahela                   Kelcie Awo
                        Olivia                      Princess Mahealani       Noelle Poole
                        Malvolio                    Malolio                  Troy Apostol
                        Toby Belch                  Count Opunui             Alvin Chan
                        Sir Andrew Aguecheek        Sir Andy Waha            Chi Ho Law
                        Feste                       Lope                     Jabez Armodia
                        Maria                       Kukana                   Jamy Torres
                        Fisherman/priest            Fisherman/priest         Travis Tamashiro
                        Fabian                      Kohala                   Savada Gilmore
                        Sebastian                   Loka                     Frank Katasse
                        Antonio                     Koa                      Daniel Nishida




http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Apr/22/en/en01a.html                                    4/22/2005

				
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