PICS: Society of Seven ‘homecoming’ an instant hit
Photos by Bruce Asato / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Society of Seven reopened their show at the Outrigger Waikiki with excellent music and comedic antics, but also turned patriotic with a medley of patriotic songs, ending with Tony Ruivivar, Alika Santos, Arshiel Calatrava, Bert Sagum and Hoku Low at the front of the stage singing “God Bless the USA” as Roy Venturina, Wayne Wakai and Vincent Mendoza played in the background.
Review by John Berger
Rule Number One in show business is that if something works, you don’t mess with it.
Tony Ruivivar developed a winning formula for the Society Of Seven some 40 years ago, and the opening of the SOS’s “homecoming” show last night proved that Ruiviviar’s formula is still a winner. Old-time nightlifers who remember the SOS from their heyday in the 1970s and ‘80s can count on embracing this latest production by Waikiki’s once-and-forever super show group. Anyone seeing the SOS for the first time is certain to leave a fan.
The show contains all the traditional SOS magic: Lots of celebrity impersonations, tightly synchronized choreography, cross-dressing comedy, Broadway classics, and impressive high-impact renditions of contemporary pop hits.
Ruivivar and multi-talented Bert Sagum have steered the SOS through four decades of showroom success and enough personnel changes since they opened at the Outrigger in 1969 to field three complete SOS septets. Each time a stellar talent departed for one reason or another — “Little Albert” Maligmat, Roberto Nievera, Jun Polistico, Eddie Ramirez, Terry Lucido and Gary Bautista, to name six — Ruivivar found a stellar replacement and carried on.
Ruivivar’s latest stellar find is Elika Santos, and he clearly deserves his place as the newest member of the group.
Santos stands out from the opening number, a high-octane arrangement of Santana’s 1971 classic, “Everybody’s Everything,” on through several show-stopping showcase segments — he thrilled the opening night crowd with a pair of Journey hits, and topped that with a tribute to Pavarotti.
Santos also handles his share of the load when Ruivivar introduces the “SOS Stimulus Package” — impressions of entertainers with Las Vegas connections.
The cast of characters includes Josh Groban (Santos), Stevie Wonder (Vincent Mendoza), Wayne Newton (Hoku Low) and Kenny G (Wayne Wakai). Sagum has a great time as always playing Little Richard. Ruivivar, Santos and Sagum provide the backing vocals as Low steps forward as Frankie Valli in a tribute to “Jersey Boys” and the Four Seasons.
Roy Venturina is the seventh member of the current roster; like Roy Guerzo before him, he spends most of the show supporting the others on keyboards but steps out a couple of times to join in on the choreography.
And, as Ruivivar would say, there’s more. The SOS is also featuring a “special guest,” 15-year-old Farrington High School student Arshiel. “This Will Be,” the Natalie Cole hit, provides her with a great introduction. “All By Myself,” arranged and sung as a power ballad, is a highlight number for her later in the show.
Society Of Seven
» Where: Outrigger Main Showroom, Outrigger Waikiki, 2335 Kalakaua
» When: 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays
» Cost: $45 (Kama‘aina rates available); free validated parking at the Ohana East, 150 Kaiulani Avenue (enter parking from Kuhio Avenue)
» Info: 923-7469