For Hawaii entertainers grappling with pandemic’s fallout, the show (still) must go on

For Hawaii entertainers grappling with pandemic’s fallout, the show (still) must go on

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The pandemic has eliminated gigs for local entertainers and disrupted the state’s film and TV production industry.

Many performers, however, are coming up with creative ways to keep connecting with audiences.

“Obviously, our production industry is impacted greatly. There are thousands of people out of work in that sector,” said Georja Skinner, chief officer of the state’s Creative Industries Division in the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Leaders in the creative sector are focused on helping people find financial assistance and also developing opportunities through online platforms.

“Thirteen productions that were scheduled have postponed. We haven’t heard that they’ve canceled, but one was a reality series on Maui, several commercials here, a feature film that’s been looking at Hawaii as well as a TV special,” said Skinner.

Actor Kimee Balmilero is known for her role as Dr. Noelani Cunha on “Magnum P.I.” and “Hawaii Five-0.” She planned to open a performance space called Tiny Stage last month. Since she couldn’t, she launched a new online show called “MEE TIME” to showcase local musicians.

“We're hoping that this show will not only give them a space to be creative, but also let everyone know that these guys are still around,” Balmilero explained.

She also moved her Improv Hawaii group online. Their virtual improv comedy show called “Slightly Off” streams live every Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

“Our improv audience is just so forgiving anyway because they know we're making it all up,” said Balmilero. “So when you throw in a frozen screen or an audio delay, it actually makes it funnier.”

Another group of performers, Honolulu Theatre for Youth, usually does up to a dozen productions each year and tours statewide. Actors are now educating and entertaining keiki through “The HI Way.” The episodes, which are filmed in the performers’ homes, cover timely topics such as fear and boredom.

“One actor might be roping in their wife or girlfriend or husband to hold up a puppet and act with them. Other people might be in a scene with someone all the way across town,” said HTY artistic director Eric Johnson.

The HI Way airs throughout the week on Hawaii News Now and it’s also available online.

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