August 29th, 2011 / posted by paularath

Gridiron finale. Photos courtesy of Melissa Chang for

Every year Jerry and I look forward to the Gridiron show. We love to go with Liz Dahl, my friend, a superb makeup artist (she works on Hawaii Five-0, in addition to films and “just folks”), who also dabbles in standup comedy. She has a great sense of humor and always appreciates the outrageous humor in the Gridiron.

In case you’re not familiar with the Gridiron show, it’s put on by members of the local media as a fundraiser for the Society of Professional Journalists. It helps support the internship program that gives many Honolulu journalists their first jobs in the field.

The script is written by media folks as well as a few friends of the media and humorists such as Shannon Winpenny, Bill Sage IV, Steve Wagenseller and Patrick Downes. It’s a musical comedy based on news stories of the past year. this year the title was “New and Unproven.”

The Gridiron is co-directed by Keoki Kerr of KITV and Robbie Dingeman, a former colleague at The Honolulu Advertiser, who is now with Ulupono Initiative. It is directed and choreographed by Ahnya Chang, who does an absolutely amazing job. The show has the polish and calibre of a community theatre production.

Colleen Hanabusa is played by Donalyn Delacruz, who turns on the tita act.

The talent present on the stage at Gridiron is amazing. While it’s not surprising that TV anchors and reporters can deliver lines, their talent at singing and dancing is awesome. And while one expects radio folks to have resonant voices, who knew they could also act, sing and dance?

I’ll never forget the first time I saw my (then) Advertiser colleague, Christine Strobel,  looking like she’d been born on the stage. When she told me she had never done any singing, dancing or acting before, not even in high school or college, I couldn’t believe it. She’s such a natural! This year she seemed to be in nearly every scene. You can see the sheer pleasure in her countenance. Gridiron is her favorite time of year.

The subjects (or should I say targets) for Gridiron’s sometimes scathing lyrics this year were rail transit, civil unions, the City Council, Mayor Carlisle (played by Keoki Kerr), Governor Abercrombie (played by Chad Blair), Mufi Hannemann (played by Ben Guiterrez – on stilts), Colleen Hanabusa (played by Donalyn Delacruz), the bus driver who reads the paper and texts while behind the wheel, HECO’s power outtages, Hawaii Five-0, Tom Berg and of course the Makaha peacock….to name a few.

That's Christine Strobel on the far left. She has played everything from a security woman for President Obama to a bus passenger, rapper, rocker and school marm.

 Just to give you a little taste of what the lyrics are like, here are a few examples:


(To the tune of Three Dog Night’s version of “Black and White”)

“You take one bat, you hold it tight

There’ll be one less peacock by tonight

Don’t need no cat, don’t have to fight

A casserole’s now within my sight, a beautiful sight.”

Gridiron costumes are over the top! Here they are garbage washing up at Ko Olina. The brown (ahem!) is Vicki Viotti of the Star-Advertiser.


(To the tune of “Home on the Range”)

M.R.C. Greenwood:

“I don’t want a home where the regents may roam

Though I know that it comes with the pay.

I can’t live in a tent

So I want you to rent

Me a condo that costs 60K.

Home’s not College Hill

Though they recently spent half a mill

to make it look swell

Now the students rebel –

Their tuition is paying the bill.”

Hawaii Five-0 is parodied.


“Little Don Horner had a bank on the corner

Of Alakea and King, but he had CEO mania

For Punchbowl and Beretania so now he runs everything.”

Sadly, the Gridiron will not be held again until 2013. The cast and crew are just too busy during an election year to allow time for rehearsals, so election years will go dark. The upside is that they will now have two years to collect weird local stories and turn them into hysterical parodies.

Mahalo to Melissa Chang for the photos. She got a sneak peek at the show because Ahnya is her niece. Proud aunty!

– Paula Rath

What are they saying?
Leave a comment below.
August 29th, 2011 at 5:55 pm

I have never heard of it but would have loved to see it. Will keep my eyes peeled for it in 2 years. Hopefully you’ll remind us in advance.

August 29th, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Yes, I will write a blog when the tickets go on sale. I called at exactly 8 a.m. on the day they went on sale and still didn’t get the very best seats, though they were good seats. I think the cast is allowed to get X number of tickets for their friends and family – and it’s a big cast!

Jerry Mayfield
August 30th, 2011 at 5:23 pm

great review of the Gridiron. Fabulous photos.

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