High school stage set for action

It’s only fitting that King Kekaulike Dramatic Arts Company opens Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” tomorrow night. Maui now embarks into a raging storm of conflicting theatrical productions. However, with crowded houses at “The Play’s the Thing” (See Stage Review on the next page), a sold-out opening weekend for “Fiddler on the Roof,” three new Maui youth productions set to open, plus large crowds at Maui Arts & Cultural Center all month, the fear that Maui audiences couldn’t fill the seats of a dozen performances per week has been quelled.

“The Tempest,” once a rarely produced work, evolved in the 20th century to one of Shakespeare’s most popular. Two of the better-known incarnations are the 1956 science fiction adaptation, “Forbidden Planet,” and the recent 2010 gender-bending film version, shot on the Big Island and Lanai, starring Helen Mirren as “Prospera.”

The traditional plot revolves around a magician, Prospero, the former and rightful Duke of Milan, and his beautiful daughter, Miranda. The two have been stranded for 12 years on a remote island ever since Prospero’s brother, Antonio, in league with Alonso the King of Naples, set him adrift on a small craft with his 3-year-old daughter. Gonzalo, who takes pity on the situation, secretly stocked the boat with food, water, clothes and Prospero’s spellbooks. After rescuing a spirit named Ariel from a spell cast by the witch Sycorax, she reluctantly becomes Prospero’s servant. Sycorax’s son, Caliban, adopted and raised by the Duke, teaches him to survive on the island.

The play begins with Prospero conjuring a storm, “The Tempest,” causing brother Antonio’s ship to run aground on the remote island. Also onboard are King Alonso and Gonzalo. The multilayered plot thickens as Prospero conspires to marry his daughter into the royal family, escape the island and restore his former standing using illusion and manipulation.

* King Kekaulike High presents Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” directed by Chris Kepler. Performances are 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, tonight through March 2 in the cafetorium at the King Kekaulike campus in Pukalani. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students, available only at the door a half hour before the show.

Opening next week at Seabury Hall is “The Diviners,” an obscure drama, directed by Sally Sefton. With a knack of finding quality plays for young actors to develop their skills (“Voice of the Prairie,” “Lockdown”), Sefton provides projects to facilitate her teen casts in the type of roles a young actor rarely gets to attempt until college. This poignant drama begins and ends with eulogies spoken by two of the townspeople describing what happened the day of a tragedy, then stepping back to relate all of the events leading to the climax.

Set in Depression-era Indiana, the performance focuses on Buddy, a young, mentally-challenged boy. In the small town of Zion, Buddy’s sweet nature touches most people he meets, but he is mostly pitied and placated.

That all changes the day he encounters a stranger named C.C. Showers. C.C. takes an immediate shine to Buddy and vice versa. The two become close friends, and C.C. becomes Buddy’s mentor.

Soon the single girls in Zion take an interest in this stranger. Heavily-rooted in old-time religion, the play turns to town interest in rebuilding a local church. C.C.’s new kid in town popularity begins to fade quickly when it is discovered he is a former preacher who gave it up, setting off a change of events that leads to a horrible tragedy.

Part “the Music Man,” with perhaps a little “O, Brother Where Art Thou” thrown in, “The Diviners,” also features several traditional gospel songs including “Amazing Grace,” “Shall We Gather at the River,” and “Rock of Ages.”

* Seabury Hall Performing Arts presents “The Diviners,” by Jim Leonard, directed by Sally Sefton. Performances are 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with a closing day 3 p.m. Sunday matinee, Feb. 28 through March 9, in the A’ali’ikuhonua Creative Arts Center in Makawao. Tickets are $12 adults, $10 seniors and $5 students. For details or to purchase tickets, call 573-1257 or visit

Also opening next weekend is the Baldwin High School Theatre Guild’s annual spring musical, “High School Musical,” with more than 50 students encompassing the cast, crew and live orchestra in Baldwin Auditorium. At one time, this facility served as the premier performing arts hall on Maui, hosting Bob Marley in the 1970s.

If you’ve never seen the Disney Channel’s smash hit movie-musical, it has been described by its creators as a modern adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” and snapshot of high school life and the cliques that separate them.

Troy is the captain of the basketball team. Gabriella is a beautiful and shy transfer student who excels in math and science. Together, they try out for lead parts in their high school musical, and as a result, divide the school. The couple, as well as the students of East High, must deal with issues of first love, friends and family, while balancing their classes and extracurricular activities.

Although the Jocks, Brainiacs, Thespians and Skater Dudes resent the threat posed to the “status quo,” Troy and Gabriella’s alliance becomes a lightening rod to open the door for others to shine as well.

* Baldwin High presents “High School Musical” by David Simpatico, directed by Linda Carnevale, choreographed by Andre Morissette and under the musical direction of Tana Larson.

Opens Feb. 28 at the Baldwin High School Auditorium. Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through March 9. There will be an additional 2 p.m. matinee March 8.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7 for ages 17 and younger, available at the door only one hour prior to showtime.