Saturday, September 10, 2011

"A Kiss Is A Terrible Thing To Waste" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Musical 'Whistle Down The Wind'

Cover of the 1998 Original Cast Recording featuring the London company.
Dean Collison and Veronica Hart in the scene from the original London
production of 'Whistle Down The Wind'.
'Whistle Down The Wind' is not one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's successful or well-known musicals. Despite it's shortcoming that lead to a cancelled Broadway premiere in 1997 and a shortened U.S. tour in 2007-2008, the score does boast some of my favorite songs by the composer. Though the original London production which opened 1998 lasted two-and-a-half years, this was not a considerable run for a Lloyd Webber musical.

Cover of the 1997 recording of that preceded the opening
of the show.
Rather than discussing the entire score I'd like to focus on the song "A Kiss Is A Terrible Thing To Waste." Originally the song was featured on the CD collection of select numbers from the musical performed by both American and British artists from the world of pop and the stage. On this album "A Kiss Is A Terrible Thing to Waste" is performed by Meat Loaf. It was rather appropriate since the lyricist is Jim Steinman who is also a composer himself and who has written several of Meat Loaf's biggest hits.

Once the song was featured in the Original London Cast recording, the song was given back to the characters and is sung by actors Dean Collison, Marcus Lovett, Veronica Hart and Lottie Mayor. The song is one of those epic rock numbers that Steinman could have composed himself. Lloyd Webber pulled out his "rock and roll" side when he composed the song.

The box-set collection of Andrew Lloyd Webber
songs that span his career up to 2001.
The version I listen to most often was featured on the five-disc box-set collection of Lloyd Webber songs spanning his career. A previously unreleased version by an experimental group called the Metal Philharmonic Orchestra has awesome vocals by Kyle Gordon and orchestrations that rock.

I've managed to see the original London production and the U.S. Tour and I believe there is still a successful musical within its framework. Critics and audiences have argued what worked or what didn't but the idea is definitely intriguing. In a sentence the show is about three children who find a man in their barn whom they believe to be Jesus.

Recently I discovered an alternately composed version of "A Kiss Is A Terrible Thing To Waste" with two different orchestrations on (posted below). Though each lacks any video, I've been playing either version on my iPad regularly for the past week. One is performed by the Everly Brothers and the other is by Rory Dodd whose vocals have been featured in recordings by Meat Loaf and Steinman. Some sources credit both Steinman and Lloyd Webber but this version was composed in the late 1980s and many music experts agree that these two versions has music and lyrics only by Steinman despite sharing some lyrics and musical motifs with the song of the same title that eventually appeared in 'Whistle Down The Wind.'

By the way you may not be familiar with the musical 'Whistle Down the Wind' but you are likely to have heard one of its songs which was a huge hit for the boy band Boyzone called "No Matter What" (click HERE for a video; or HERE to sample on iTunes).

For your listening pleasure, below are all the versions of the "A Kiss Is A Terrible Thing To Waste" as discussed in this post. Only the version by Meat Loaf includes any actual video. Links to the songs on iTunes and the recordings on are listed down below.

Version by the Metal Philharmonic Orchestra

Version by the Everly Brothers

Version by Rory Dodd (vocals begin at about 2min 10 sec)

Version from the Original Cast Recording featuring Dean Collison, Veronica Hart & Lottie Mayor

Version by Meat Loaf

Listen on iTunes:
(note: "Andrew Lloyd Webber - Now and Forever" and "Songs from Whistle Down the Wind" are not available on iTunes. The version of the song on these recordings have been included on other collections on iTunes listed below. The versions by Rory Dodd and the Everly Brothers are not available on iTunes.)
'Whistle Down The Wind' - Original London Cast (1998)
The Essential Meat Loaf
Andrew Lloyd Webber 60

Find it on

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Disney's Aulani Resort: Welcoming Guests to Hawaii

This is one in a series of posts about Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa.

Guests will immediately notice that Disney's Aulani Resort was designed and constructed with much care and thought. However one's view of Aulani will depend on how one feels about Disney opening a commercial venture in Hawaii. I myself was impressed with what I viewed as soon as I walked into the open-air lobby. Much has been written in the local press of how the resort celebrates Hawaiian traditions, art, history and culture. Some would would argue that Aulani is not much different from the company's Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World. But it is different and its designers have as best as possible managed to capture various essences of Hawaii.

There are the obvious features like Kaplepa's which is meant to recall a local country store and Waikohole Valley to resemble a volcano and the water features of the islands. But the most dramatic features is the art and decorative features that is found at almost every corner of the hotel but none more so than in the dramatic lobby.

Even more impressive is that Aulani as a whole claims to have on display one of the largest collections of contemporary Hawaiian art. Over 200 pieces of original art were commissioned by Disney for Aulani with many by Native Hawaiian artists. As a taste the photos above and below gives one glimpses of the design and decor of the resort's lobby.

Though the towers envelope the property, the lobby which overlooks the property gives one a vista that is indeed breathtaking from the manmade features that is Waikohole Valley, which has been manicured with landscaping that seems to have been growing before Aulani's creation, to the Pacific Ocean just beyond.

Side note: I was quite bewildered by more than one guest staring at rocks at Aulani. Apparently in keeping with the spirit of other Disney resorts, the image of Mickey Mouse or "missing Mickeys" is hidden from rock to the wallpaper.

Walking from the resort's parking structure to the hotel entrance one can only admire the detail that is the Waianae Tower. It's probably best that the feast for the eyes awaits behind this tower. It must be mentioned that the footpath leading from the parking is not on the ground level of the structure but mid-level. Then it's a walk along the mountain side of the Waianae Tower then a few more steps to the entrance beneath the porte cochere (note: valet parking available).

I have to admit that driving along Farrington Highway on the way to the exit road to Ko Olina the two resort towers dominate the landscape even from a distance. But I'd much rather view and admire the economic difference that Aulani will make for the residents of the Leeward community in terms of jobs and spending from visitors.

Porte cochere
Mauka side of Wai'anae Tower. 
Road leading to port cochere and main hotel entrance.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Disney's Aulani Resort: Makahiki & The 'Olelo Room

This is one in a series of posts about Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa.

Because of the time of day when I visited Disney's Aulani Resort on Friday the main restaurants were not open as they were preparing for dinner service. The beachside lounge called Off The Hook was open but busy with guests enjoying the afternoon sun and view of the beach. I was not able to view the resort's fine dining restaurant 'Ama'Ama but I have definite plans to visit it in the future and will publish a post of the experience.

The above photos are of Makahiki (a Hawaiian reference to a "festival") which features a dinner and breakfast buffet. On select days a Disney Character breakfast is offered on (check with the concierge or restaurant for scheduled dates). A striking red mural greets visitors entering the dining room. Look closely and see Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes.

Makahiki is open 7am-11am for breakfast and costs $14 for children (ages 9 and under) and $27 for adults. The character breakfast officially called Aunty's Breakfast Celebration is priced $18 for children and $32 for adults. Dinner served from 5pm-10pm is much pricier at $43 for adults and $21 for children. The links below connect to the restaurant's sample menu which is subject to change:
Breakfast Menu
Dinner Menu
Click HERE to make a reservation to Makahiki or 'Ama'Ama.

The 'Olelo Room (pictured above) is a bar and lounge that adjoins Makahiki. It is open for a continental breakfast (6am-10am) and appetizers and drinks during dinner (5pm-11pm). This bar and lounge takes its name from the Hawaiian word for "voice" and hence the decor is labeled with their Hawaiian names. The staff at 'Olelo must also know the Hawaiian language. The lounge does not accept reservations.

One of the attractions of both Makahiki and 'Olelo is that both are open to the elements as guests have a view of the resort's Waikolohe Valley recreation playground. A calming fountain and waterfall embrace the restaurant guests.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Disney's Aulani Resort: 'Ewa and Wai'anae Towers

(photos except where noted: TheHopefulTraveler)
(photo credit: David Roark/Disney Destinations/Associated Press/LATimes)
This is one in a series of posts about Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa.

The two towers at Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa hold a total of 359 hotel rooms including 16 suites and 460 Disney Vacation Club Villas including 21 Grand Villas. The Grand Villas accommodates up to 12 guests in a 2,174 square foot retreat. As is typical with other Hawaii hotels, ocean view rooms are considered an upgrade and priced higher. View options are classified as standard view, ocean view, partial ocean view, poolside gardens view and island gardens view. Don't be surprised at $399 rates for standard rooms.

This post includes various perspectives of the two towers. Also included is a photo published in the L.A. Times of the interior of one of the guest rooms. Hotel rooms range in size from 382 square feet for a standard room to the 1,910 square foot 'Ahu 'Ula Suite. This suite accommodates up to six guests and includes a king-size bed in the master bedroom, one queen-size bed and one queen-size sleeper sofa in a second bedroom and three full bathrooms. Click HERE to make online reservations.

The names of the tower is reference to where each is situated: One faces the 'Ewa plain and the other faces towards the Wai'anae coast.

Each tower is quite breathtaking when one notices the detail applied to each compared to the white monolith of the neighboring hotel.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Disney's Aulani Resort: Waikolohe Valley

This is one in a series of posts about Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa.

The central playground at Disney's Aulani Resort is a striking feature called Waikolohe Valley which is roughly translated as "mischievous water." From first appearances it looks like the attraction is just as popular with the adults as it is with the younger guests. Of course it could have been that more adults than children were staying at the resort during this time. It's looks inviting that I wouldn't mind experiencing the feature at least once.

Though none of the features appear to be a thrill-ride type, hotel water safety employees are stationed at various points. Waikolohe Stream includes two tubing attractions that begin at the top of Pu'u Kilo, the volcano-like structure that dominate the playground. The 8,200-square-foot zero-entry pool is meant to mimic a beach. Other features include:

Rainbow Reef - A private snorkeling lagoon where the aquatic life can also be viewed behind a glass.
Menehune Bridge - An interactive play area that includes three slides resembles a maze-like jungle gym. In Hawaiian folklore Menehunes are "little people" responsible for mysterious occurrences.
Wailana Pool - Separated from the main pool, this serves as the relaxing alternative.
Makai Preserve - A conservation pool requiring reservations and admission where marine biologists guides guests in encounters with stingrays. Proceeds support research and conservation. Makai means "towards the ocean."
Whirlpool Spas - Four of them with two offering sunset views and advertised for parents to enjoy while their children is at play at the resort's playhouse.
Poolside Cabanas - Each of the eight private cabanas accommodates up to six guests and includes a flat-screen television, ceiling fan, refrigerator, WiFi, fruit bowl and complementary bottled water. Reservations are required at the concierge desk and private dining is available.

Although it has been reported that Waikolohe Valley is open for non-guests, resort guests wearing official wristbands will have priority access. The lagoon fronting Aulani is considered a public beach and not exclusive to hotel guests. However the controversy is parking options are limited for persons not staying at any of resorts in Ko Olina where Aulani is located.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Disney's Aulani Resort: Shopping at Kalepa's Store

(photos credit: TheHopefulTraveler)
This is one in a series of posts about Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa.

You've got to hand to it to the Walt Disney Co. for being understated in their retail efforts at the newly opened Aulani resort in Hawaii. Kalepa's Store serves both as a convenience store and souvenir shop. Particularly attractive to Disney fans is all of the new merchandise with the Aulani name. I was actually surprised that for a resort that includes time-shares with kitchens that the grocery items are very limited. Disney Vacation Club members can submit an order form to have grocery items delivered to their room.

Across the street from the driveway that leads to the Aulani entrance and a few minutes walk from the resort is a small strip mall with restaurants and shops (but as of this writing many of the spaces are still vacant). Located here is Island Country Markets which includes all the sundry basics any resort guest may need for a vacation but it also features a grocery section and deli counter. Looking for last-minute resort gifts or for a great bottle of wine, they have it here too. The market is operated by ABC Stores, the ubiquitous convenience store of Waikiki.

About two miles from Ko Olina (where the Aulani is located) is the city of Kapolei's shopping district which includes major retailers such as Target, Costco, K-Mart and a Wal-Mart (the latter currently under construction) as well as several restaurants, fast-food places, gas stations, banks and even a 16-theatre movie multiplex.

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