At home in theater
Although there are nearly a dozen youth theater and dance programs on Maui, options are limited for west side kids, unless a parent is willing to drive them to Wailuku several times a week. The Lahaina-based Theatre Theatre Maui has been filling that void every summer since 1991 with the primary mission to bring the performing arts to adults and children of the west side community. Actress, director and lifelong lover of the performing arts Angela Thompson has served as the executive director of TTM since 2013. We corresponded last week about her life in the theater and her passion for Theatre Theatre Maui.
“I have been play-acting since I was a kid,” Thompson shared. “My first show was a children’s theater production of ‘Annie.’ At the audition, I was terrified. I couldn’t even bring myself to sing the words, so I spoke them instead. I left thinking that I was not going to get a call from the company. I was surprised to get a call a week later indicating I was accepted into the program and would be playing both a servant and an orphan. I caught the bug and held onto it.”
TTM will be presenting the shorter youth version, “Annie Jr.,” with direction by Kristi Scott, next month.
Thompson has spent the bulk of her adult life working in theater in the Sacramento, Calif., area.
“For many years, if I wasn’t in a show, I was learning and working tech – operating a light board, stage managing, assistant directing, directing, building sets and more.”
As a board member for Big Idea Theatre, she participated in fundraising, ticket sales, ushering and coordinating special event galas and dinners.
“I even pulled props and theater supplies out of a half-foot of sewer water when a pipe burst in the building,” she added. “If there is a job to do, we do it. We’re theater people and no job is too big or small. We just do it.”
While in California, she had the chance to play her bucket list role of Maggie, in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
“I can’t tell you how loudly I screeched and how I jumped in the air when I got that call,” she said.
Thompson moved to Maui with her boyfriend, Anthony Pignataro, editor of a weekly island publication, when he was called back to his former position.
“I had just turned 40,” said Thompson. “I quit my job, packed up a lifetime of belongings, started the travel process for my cats and set out for our life on Maui. I love life out here and wouldn’t have it any other way, but I quickly learned that searching for employment was harrowing – especially for an outsider. Anthony advised that I seek out the one community that, no matter where I lived, would always have a home for me – theater.”
She decided to audition for the ProArts Inc. production of “Social Security” in 2011.
“I knew it would be a tremendous morale booster if I were able to be cast in a show even though I’d only lived on Maui for one month. I auditioned for Kristi Scott and immediately liked her. She had personality and talent and a commanding presence. I wanted so much to work with her. When I got the call a day or so later from Kristi that she wanted to cast me, I experienced that same thrill I mentioned back when I got my bucket-list role a few years prior. I jumped up and down and screeched – again.”
Thompson has also appeared in ProArts’ “Bermuda Avenue Triangle,” and “The Dixie Swim Club” and directed Pignataro’s “War Stories,” which placed second in the Maui Fringe Theater Festival in 2014.
In 2013, she was hired as the executive director of TTM, where she applies for grants, administers the program and handles bookkeeping and publicity work for the summer productions. Currently, Thompson, Scott and their creative team of Derek Nakagawa, Vania Jerome and Heidi Turner are in week two of the camp, which is being held at Sacred Hearts School in Lahaina this year.
The six-week camp culminates with three live performances of “Annie Jr.” at the Royal Lahaina Resort in Kaanapali, and will star newcomer Gianna Bauchman in the title role.
“The campers are enjoying a summer of acting, singing and dancing instruction along with theater games focusing on team building, memorization, confidence, acting, stage movement and more,” said Thompson. “Part of Theatre Theatre Maui’s mission is to provide a full spectrum of theatrical training and experience to our participants and members of the community. Along with singing, dancing and acting, our summer campers also participate in our camp workshop making props and set pieces. When the campers make the props, they become even more connected and excited about the show that they and the staff created together. Our campers are dedicated actors and artists who make us more and more proud of them every day.”
* Lahaina’s Theatre Theatre Maui presents “Annie Jr.” with direction by Kristi Scott and musical direction by Vania Jerome. Performances will be at 7 p.m. July 17 and 18 and 2 p.m. July 19 at the Royal Lahaina Resort in Kaanapali. Tickets are $12 for adults and $7 for children younger than 12 and may be purchased at the door one hour prior to the performance or in advance at Lahaina Music. For more information, contact Theatre Theatre Maui at 661-1168.
The Maui Comedy Festival summer series continues with Jim Jefferies at 7:30 p.m. July 9 in Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Subsequent summer shows include Patton Oswalt on Aug. 6 and Sinbad on Sept. 24, also in Castle Theater.
* Tickets for the three shows range from $42.50 to $72.50 (plus applicable fees) and are available at the box office, by calling 242-7469 or by visiting www.mauiarts.org.
Maui OnStage presents “The Addams Family: A New Musical Comedy,” written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and based on the character of Charles Addams.
* Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays from July 10 to Aug. 2 at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku. Tickets range from $20 to $40 and are available by calling 242-6969 or online at www.mauionstage.com.
The Maui Academy of Performing Arts presents “Oliver!,” with music and lyrics by Lionel Bart and based on the classic tale by Charles Dickens. Sally Sefton will direct the show, choreographed by Andre Morissette with musical direction by Marti Kluth. This youth production is the culmination of MAPA’s musical theater camps, which offer intensive training in acting, dancing and singing. This year’s camps include 72 students ages 8 to 19 from Maui and the Mainland.
* Performances will be at 7 p.m. July 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25, and at 3 p.m. July 26 in the ‘A’ali’ikuhonua Creative Arts Center at Seabury Hall in Makawao. Reserved seating tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for students, with general admission available at $15 for adults and $12 for students. For tickets or more information, call 244-6272 or visit www.mauiacademy.org.
Tickets are on sale now for “Sesame Street Live: Let’s Dance!” coming to Maui in July. Audience members will be invited to dance with all of their favorite “Sesame Street” friends in this all-ages production. Elmo will use his imagination to “Do the Robot,” Cookie Monster will teach the “feets” of dance and Ernie will perform “Shake Your Head One Time.”
* Performances will be at 6:30 p.m. July 24; 10:30 a.m., 2 and 5:30 p.m. July 25; and 1 and 4:30 p.m. July 26 in Castle Theater at the MACC. Tickets range from $10 to $75 (plus applicable fees) and are available at the box office, by calling 242-7469 or by visiting www.mauiarts.org.
Tickets for the MAPA production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Evita” starring Amy Hanaiali’i as Eva Peron will go on sale to the general public July 8.
* Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, Aug. 21 to 30 in Castle Theater at the MACC. Tickets range from $15 to $75 (plus applicable fees), with a 25 percent discount available for students 18 and younger, and are available at the box office, by calling 242-7469 or by visiting www.mauiarts.org.