Emily Windler (from left), Kate Braidwood and Andrew Phoenix of Wonderheads; Photo courtesy Maui Arts & Cultural Center.

Coming up… Youth shows, masked performers, comedy, dance and much more

Maui’s constantly expanding performing arts scene, by virtue of larger attendance each season, has spawned a hefty schedule of events for every arts organization on the island. It wasn’t that many years ago when the Maui Arts & Cultural Center might offer 20 or 30 performances per ...

Photo courtesy Rita Rudner

Rita Rudner

Four years ago, I interviewed comedian Rita Rudner and upon speaking with her by phone again last week, I asked if she remembered her personal Hawaiian word, “mahuka,” that she shared with me. “Yes, I can’t believe you remembered that,” she said. “I still use it.” In 2012 she ...

Moses Goods stars in “Duke”
Photo courtesy Maui Arts & Cultural Center


One of my favorite columns to write is at the end of the year, looking back on the finest performing arts showstoppers of the year. 2016 marks the sixth year that I have compiled a list of my personal favorite moments of the year, and inevitably due to our constantly growing live entertainment ...

Seabury Hall students will star in the Holiday Performing Arts Concert. JACK GRACE photos

’Tis the season at Seabury

If there is a recurring theme for this holiday season it would be “sold out.” Backstage only covers the performing arts, but when you include the immensely popular annual concerts such as “Willie Wonderland” and “Holiday Pops” alongside the recent productions of “Nutcracker ...

Lorne Direnfeld photo

‘Nutcracker Sweets’

Although many holiday-themed events are nearly sold out all    over Maui, there is a bounty of delightful performances to choose from this weekend. With more than 150 dancers participating, families and friends alone make the Maui Academy of Performing Arts’ “Nutcracker ...

Kathy Collins (back row, from left), Scott Smith, Bill Hubbard, Isaac Rauch, Rochelle Dunning, and  Barbara Sedano (front row, from left), Adriane Raff Corwin and Victoria McGee star in  “The Games Afoot: Or Holmes for the Holidays.” JACK GRACE photo

ProArts’ ‘The Games Afoot’ wildly funny, with actors full of surprises

Ken Ludwig’s “The Games Afoot: Or Holmes for the Holidays” has more twists and turns than the road to Hana. This masterfully crafted script is the perfect blend of mystery, farce, non-fiction and several surprise endings. Its lead character, William Gillette, played with a pompous ...


Uproarious results

The tumultuousness of the 2016 election cycle should make Bill Maher’s annual New Year’s all-star comedy show on Maui especially unmatched. I spoke by phone with Margaret Cho on the morning of Election Day, and Maher and Dana Gould just after the surprising results. I asked Cho what the ...

Sara Jelley and Chris Kepler star in “Mary Poppins: The Broadway Musical.” BRETT WULFSON photo

‘Mary Poppins’ swoops in to Iao Theater

Over 20 years ago, Cameron Mackintosh (“Les Miserables,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Miss Saigon,” “Cats”) approached the author of “Mary Poppins,” P.L. Travers, about developing a stage version of the 1964 Walt Disney film. Travers, fiercely loyal to her books, initially ...

Photo courtesy Moses Goods

One man one legacy

Burt Reynolds once said that when he was a football player at Florida State University, he would have rather had the chance to play the role of football legend Jim Thorpe in the film “Jim Thorpe All-American” than become a famous athlete. Thorpe, a Native American from Carlisle Indian ...

Nicole Yezzi (from left) Hallie Hunt and Nicole Humphrey perform with Adaptations Dance Theater. TRISH BARKER photo

Dance Maui

In its second year, Dance Maui has already seen an increase in participation and support, with 15 professional dance organizations and student groups taking the stage in back-to-back performances. “Maui is a hub for cultural diversity in every aspect of life, and as a professional dance ...

Tahiti Cabrinha (from left), Taylor Takatani, Hiwa Greig, Kela Rothstein, Camille Erdman, Jena Mukai and Caitlyn Campbell star in Seabury Hall’s “Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy.”

‘Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy’

At the 2011 Tony Awards, Whoopi Goldberg made an appearance to introduce “Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy.” She joked about musical versions of her other hit films, naming “The Color Purple,” “Sister Act” and “Ghost” — “They’re all coming,” she said. Next season, her ...

Tehoni Naeole and Mariana Kaniho star in Kamehameha Schools Maui Drama Club’s latest production.

“I was looking for a show that had a flexible cast and flexible set requirements. I graduated several seniors last year and was not sure who would come out for the show this year,” said Kamehameha Schools Maui drama instructor Camille Romero. Romero has a knack for finding unknown modern ...

ACTNOW! Productions presents “Robert Angelo as Clarence Darrow.” Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the McCoy Studio Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului. Tickets range from $25 to $35 (plus applicable fees) and are available at the box office, by calling 242-7469 or by visiting

Legally bold

In April, I shared a great deal of history in regards to Clarence Darrow and the trial of John Scopes. Darrow was nicknamed “the attorney of the damned,” and a great adversary of the death penalty. The accounts of his larger-than-life courtroom trials made national front page news and ...

Elisha Cullins (from left), Patty Lee Sylva, John Williams, Hoku Pavao and Jennifer Rose perform in “The House of Yes.”

Dark secrets revealed in ‘House of Yes’

A few years ago, a frequent reader of Backstage emailed me. The reader had disagreed with my opinion of a show and asked, “You like dark topics, don’t you?” My answer was, “Yes.” “The House of Yes” is a very dark piece that offers a fly-on-the-wall vantage point of a disturbed and ...

Elisha Cullins (from left), Hoku Pavao, Jennifer Rose, John Williams and Patty Silva star in “The House of Yes.”

Daringly dark

In the Police song “Born in the ’50s,” Sting sings, “My mother cried when President Kennedy died.” I wasn’t born yet but clearly remember both of my parents sharing how that day changed their lives, and mentality, on the 20th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination in November of ...

Rick Scheideman continues his rotating one-man show series with “An Evening with Einstein” on Sunday, “An Evening with Mark Twain” on Oct. 16 and “The Old Man and the Sea” on Oct. 23. Performances are at 6:30 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 11 at the Pioneer Inn courtyard in Lahaina. Courtyard dining is also available. Tickets are $22 and may be reserved by calling (303) 507-0987 or purchased at the door.

Subtlety shines in Lahaina

The September theater lull has certainly subsided as nine productions will now be in performance over the next five weeks. On Sunday, I attended the Hawaii premiere of Rick Scheideman’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” adapted from the Ernest Hemingway novel specifically for him by Alice ...

Jonathan Lehman founded ProArts Inc. in Kihei and was an active member of Maui’s theater community. 

Farewell to a talented friend of theater on Maui

The first time I met Jonathan Lehman was in the Maui Academy of Performing Arts production of “The Music Man” in 2008. I took notice of his script binder labeled with his name and a “Music Man” graphic that he had obviously printed himself. This was an organized, detail-oriented ...

Jamie Wilcox (seated) and Lin McEwan appear in a scene from “Boeing Boeing,” playing at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku. 

With its feverish pace and complex choreography, Maui OnStage’s “Boeing Boeing” may be physical comedy at its best. Things definitely get physical in this production of Marc Camoletti’s classic farce about Bernard, an American architect living in 1960s Paris, who has three secret ...

‘Boeing Boeing’ guarantees high-flying comedy

"Drink up, it's going to be a bumpy night." These words, uttered by the long-suffering French housekeeper Berthe, sum up the premise of Marc Camoletti's classic farce, "Boeing Boeing," which lands at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku on Friday.Maui OnStage will present the Maui premiere of ...