In time for Valentine's Day, Adam Sandler's new romantic comedy "Just Go With It" opens Friday. Along with hundreds of Mauians as extras, the new movie features such stars as Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman, and a little Hawaiian music played by Barry Flanagan, Nathan Aweau and Led Ka'apana.
"We got a call out of the blue from director Dennis Dugan," Barry explains. "He said he was a huge fan of the group and would love to have us in a dinner scene with Adam Sandler, Dave Mathews, Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Aniston."
With many scenes shot at the Grand Wailea last spring, the comedy stars Sandler as a plastic surgeon who pretends to be unhappily married to get dates. While romancing a young schoolteacher, he recruits his office manager (Aniston) to pose as his soon-to-be-divorced wife.
Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler get Maui’ed in the new comedy opening this weekend
Columbia Pictures photo
For director Dennis Dugan, who has previously made five films with Sandler, shooting a film in Hawaii provided an opportunity to spotlight some of our most gifted musicians on the soundtrack.
"As soon as I knew we were coming to Hawaii, I wanted to get in touch with Led and Hapa," says Dugan, interviewed while filming on Maui last year.
"I knew their music from coming here in the '90s when I directed a bunch of television shows like 'Byrds of Paradise.' So when we had our first music meeting for the movie I said, there's a hula contest in one scene and I want Hapa and Ledward Ka'apana, who maybe could play at the bar. The music people there were going, 'We don't know them,' and I said, 'You don't know them because you don't know Hawaiian. These are the best guys.' "
"I knew people in Hawaii would be happy that we spent extra time and money to get revered artists in the movie. I called Barry and said, 'I know you play this beautiful, sacred music, but you have to understand we have this hula contest and you're going to be playing 'Lovely Hula Hands' or 'Hukilau.' I wanted to tell him ahead of time, because I didn't want to hire the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and tell them they've got to play some heavy metal. I said, I don't want to disrespect you or your music in our movie, if that's what we're going to need."
The musicians ended up spending a week on Maui shooting a scene that's "like a touristy hula contest," he explains. "Nicole Kidman plays this really competitive, ex-school mate of Aniston's, who decides she's going to go up and win it, and Aniston reluctantly competes with her."
As to whether their scene made the final cut, he said: "They will definitely be on-screen. I know because they're on stage with Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Aniston."
"Dennis Dugan really moved mountains to get Hapa into the movie," says Barry. "There was nothing but music and laughter the week we shot our scene; nonstop jamming with Led and Ernie Cruz Jr. It was inspiring and amazing."
Dugan reports that the cast members were totally impressed with our musicians.
"At one point we came back from lunch and the crew was setting up, and I said, I want you guys to know who you've been working with all week. I said, 'You've heard a little playback, but you haven't really heard these guys.'
"They did a little impromptu concert. The hula dancer did a chant, and Led and Barry and Nathan played, and it was really wonderful. Everyone was astonished."
Maui's Grace Recording Studio recorded and mixed eight songs (including new versions of "Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai" and "Kaopuiki Aloha") for the movie with Hapa, Led and a group of Tihati drummers. The soundtrack also includes Barry's tune "Stars in the Morning Sky" from the "Instrumental Peace" CD.
Barry and Eric Gilliom will play a pre-Valentine's show at Stella Blues Supper Club on Sunday evening. And they return for two evening shows on Feb. 18 and 19. Paula Fuga with guitarist Mike Love plays Friday evening. Shows and four-course dinners cost $60, shows only $30. On Valentine's Day, Gail Swanson will perform at Stella's with no cover, dinner seatings at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.
Fresh from performing at the Pro Bowl on Oahu, Anuhea will present her first unplugged show at the MACC's McCoy Studio Theater on Saturday.
The winner of two Na Hoku Awards in 2010 for Most Promising Artist of the Year and Contemporary Album of the Year, Anuhea will mix songs from her debut CD with new compositions.
"I'll be giving some acoustic previews of my newest material," she says. "I'll probably have a few friends with me as special guests throughout the night. This will be a real intimate situation. I'll be able to share the meaning behind some of my songs."
Released in 2009, "Anuhea" was one of the most impressive debut recordings released by a contemporary artist in Hawaii. With a polished, folky, funky and reggae-flavored sound, her catchy songs found appeal far beyond our islands. Now she's in the midst of producing a highly anticipated follow-up.
"I'm about seven songs deep into the recording process," she reports. "I've toured the U.S. twice and gone to Japan since the first album. The new CD is definitely an expansion, with some Rihanna-style pop-dance music, and I'm even doing some rapping."
* Anuhea performs at the MACC's McCoy Studio Theater at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Project Graduation for the Seabury Hall Class of 2012. Tickets are $35 (plus applicable fees) available from the MACC box office, 242-7469, www.mauiarts.org.
Anuhea sometimes performs with the Mana Maoli Collective, the educational and musical project that includes John Cruz and members of Natural Vibrations. The Collective will perform a fundraising show at 8:30 Friday evening at Kihei's Three's Bar & Grill. Other musicians performing at the gig include percussionist Lopaka Colon, Kapena Delima, plus kumu hula Mehanaokala Hind and six dancers. In March, the group heads to New Zealand to play some festivals. The show will begin with solo acoustic performances by John Cruz and Anuhea, and then they'll join the band. Admission is $15 at the door.
Hawaii's most popular recording artist, Keali'i Reichel, will present "Kukahi 2011" with Halau Ke'alaokamaile at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Castle Theater at the MACC. The shows will help raise funds for the award-winning halau.
The renowned kumu hula and his halau won the wahine overall title, as well as wahine kahiko and wahine 'auana contest at the 2010 Merrie Monarch Festival.
* Tickets are $12, $35, $45, and $55 (plus applicable fees), available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or www.mauiarts.org.
Willie K will serenade us again with some opera when the Hawaii Youth Symphony returns to perform in Castle Theater at 7 p.m. Feb 21. The free concert will feature about 100 young musicians performing favorite classical, pops and Hawaiian selections.
Conducted by Henry Miyamura, the orchestra comprises secondary school students from Oahu and the Big Island, with seven students from the Maui Youth Philharmonic Orchestra participating.
Seating is available on a first- come, first-served basis. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Former "American Idol" finalist Chris Daughtry makes his Maui debut Feb. 18 in Castle Theater. Doughtry's self-titled debut CD sold more than 4 million copies and was named the No. 1 selling album of 2007 by Billboard. He was proclaimed Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards in 2007.
Adopting his last name for his band, Doughtry released his second album, "Leave This Town," in 2009. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart.
* Tickets are $33, $43, and $53, with a limited number of $83 tickets for premium seating, available as above.
And coming up Feb. 19, Pacific Whale Foundation's free annual Whale Day Celebration in Kihei's Kalama Park will feature Cecilio and Kapono headlining the entertainment, along with John Cruz, George Kahumoku Jr., Marty Dread, Anuhea and The Throwdowns.