I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but I've never heard Sarah Rudinoff sing. I missed Go There, her roundly celebrated 2003 solo show, and while I have seen her act, I always miss the chances to hear her belt it out. Nevertheless, I believe what you all say--I'm sure she is the glorious, charismatic songbird I've heard so much about.

But I have to admit it: A sassy, brassy babe with lungs of gold-plated steel only takes me so far. So I was intrigued to learn that in The Last State, her new solo piece at On the Boards, Ms. Rudinoff will not sing.

"No, no singing," she warned. "And I won't be super funny."

The Last State is billed as a meditation on identity, politics, and personalities in Hawaii, where she grew up. Hawaii is a weird place and she lived weirdly in it, as a haole (honky) girl who ran with a tougher, native crowd.

"I was a bully," she said. "I ran with a bunch of Hawaiian girls, stole cars, got arrested. Most of the girls I grew up with live on Kauai with five kids." Rudinoff went off to private school with a thick, pidgin accent while her peers sported more high-class speech patterns. The show is about "trying to figure out when I became white." And a ton of other stuff: immigration, the road to statehood, negotiations between the U.S. government and Hawaiian royalty, a nasty parental custody struggle, voting requirements, the sugar trade, and on and on.

"There's so much shit going on," she laughed. "I don't even know what the show's about."

Hawaii, like Las Vegas, is one of America's psychological safe-deposit boxes, a welcoming, easy place where Midwestern men and Long Island girls go to forget themselves and live out sexualized Eden fantasies. Rudinoff used to meet vacationers and invent personas, creating mutually palatable characters for one-week friendships.

"It's not all this idea of sexy, happy natives," Rudinoff said. "I want to get another story about Hawaii in the mass psyche. It's a super complicated place--working-class, religious, tons of poverty. It's so backwoods, it's like West Virginia floating in the ocean. It should be a red state, but it's a blue state, I think because people aren't all white there."

Though The Last State aspires to tweak the postcard images of hula and ukuleles, there will in fact be a hula performance and ukulele accompaniment, the former courtesy of Rudinoff and the latter thanks to John Ackerman, one of the leading lights in local supergroup Awesome.

But there won't be any singing. "It'll be a nice break," Rudinoff said. "I just don't want people to come and sit through the whole show waiting for the cabaret to start."

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Correction: I goofed two weeks ago. The simultaneously nascent and beleaguered Union Playhouse is actually seeking to raise $200,000 cash. They've raised $90,000 so far, $43,000 of which is in-kind unskilled labor.

brendan@thestranger.com

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