By Kerry Miller Share Del.icio.us
At 65, Marlene Sai is a sweet and funny lady who, after 47 years in the entertainment business, still enjoys getting up in front of a crowd. She has blossomed since the days when Don Ho discovered her at Honey’s in Kaneohe. These days, the famed Hawaiian singer is keeping very busy, starring in a local production of South Pacific, hosting an upcoming singing contest and serving on some area boards.
“I started very young,” recalls the former MidWeek cover girl from April 1986. “We (she and Don Ho) used to kid each other - he discovered me and people discovered my singing. I miss him so.”
While keeping Ho, her musical mentor, in her heart, Sai is channeling her energy into her debut with the Hawaii Opera Theatre, portraying the role of “Bloody Mary” in HOT’s production of South Pacific.
“I am having a ball, just the time of my life. It’s just been a great challenge and a great experience,” says Sai.
The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, South Pacific, opened the 2007-2008 season for HOT, premiered July 27. Fans can still catch Sai onstage, as shows run through Aug. 5 at the Blaisdell Concert Hall. For ticket info call the Hawaii Opera Theatre Box Office at 596-7858 or visit http://www.hawaiiopera.org
On Friday night Sai hosts the 23rd annual Ka Himeni Ana Contest at the Hawaii Theatre. It’s an all-acoustic Hawaiian singing contest featuring 11 groups of singers, ranging in age from 13-70, performing their renditions of Hawaiian songs.
Also on the musical front, Sai has gigs around town, has done some concerts, special shows and some convention work. She is currently president of the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts, on the board of the Honolulu Boy Choir and, with a partner, operates her own company, Blue Rain Entertainment. Though it’s “on the back burner” at the moment, Sai says that when her current schedule calms down she wants to focus more on Blue Rain and release a new CD.
“I’ve got some ideas that I’ve wanted to do,” she reveals about the future album, adding that for now, everything else about is “a secret.”
Sai is also on the board of the Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts, for which she participated in the unveiling of Elvis’ TV Land landmark statue dedication July 26 at the Blaisdell.
The Honolulu resident jokes that she is “conveniently located” in town in case she needs to run home between gigs. The proud grandmother also enjoys spending time with her three grandchildren, 15-year-old Micah Kana`ipono Arc Angel, 8-year-old Lihau Ichinose, and the youngest, Haloa Ichinose.
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