One man one legacy

Actor Moses Goods brings story of ‘Duke’ to the MACC

Photo courtesy Moses Goods

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 School in Pennsylvania, was one of two great American stars who emerged from the 1912 Summer Olympics. The other was Native Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku. Both were ostracized by their teammates, bonding as a result, and were embraced by European sports fans at the Stockholm, Sweden, games. They returned home as American heroes.

Like Reynolds, author, actor and Maui native Moses Goods found acting to have a greater pull than athleticism. Goods is the star of the upcoming one-man show “Duke,” which portrays the life of Kahanamoku and touches on the Hawaii athlete’s relationship with Thorpe.

“I was primarily an athlete from the time I attended Makawao Elementary until I graduated from Maui High School,” Goods said. “It wasn’t until my junior year that I discovered my love for theater in Mrs. J’s drama class (Maui High drama instructor Carolyn Johnson).”

Goods went on to major in theater at University of Hawaii at Manoa and established an acting career in Honolulu. In 2004, he returned to Maui where Goods met playwright Keali’iwahine Hokoana, who asked him to star in her one-man play “The Legend of Kaulula’au.” The following year he was cast in the long-running show ” ‘Ulalena” as Maui, and also played the lead in the Maui Academy of Performing Arts production of “Othello” before moving back to Honolulu in 2008.

I asked how he developed this original one-man show.

Sara Jelley stars in the Maui OnStage production of “Maui Poppins: The Broadway Musical,” opening Nov. 25. Brett Wulfson photo

“I wrote ‘Duke’ in 2015,” he shared. “It is the product of collaboration between myself, Bishop Museum and Honolulu Theatre for Youth. Bishop Museum was in the process of creating an exhibit to honor the 125th anniversary of Duke Kahanamoku’s birth and HTY Artistic Director Eric Johnson approached me with the idea of creating a theatrical piece to complement the exhibit. I spent about six months researching Duke Kahanamoku’s life, working very closely with biographer Sandra Hall and historian DeSoto Brown as well as interviewing some of Duke’s friends and family members.”

“Duke” ran for five weeks as part of HTY’s regular season, and last February Goods presented the play at the Pregones Theatre in New York City and Yale University. In addition to the Nov. 26 performance at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului, he’s scheduled to bring “Duke” to Minneapolis in February and tour other islands in 2017. The difficulty of one-person plays is the need for a second set of eyes to fine tune the performance. I asked Goods if he had any collaborators.

“I’ve been doing solo work consistently for over a decade as both a theater artist and as a storyteller so I’m very aware of what I’m capable of as a performer. However, with a full-length piece like ‘Duke’ an outside eye was essential for the developmental process,” he shared. “I relied on director Eric Johnson to help me fine tune details with staging and transitions. I also worked with a design team to develop the right look for costuming as well as projections.”

I inquired if his Maui audience members might learn something new about Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing,  that they didn’t know.

“Although ‘Duke’ is not necessarily a political piece, it does point out the fact that Duke Kahanamoku lived through Hawaii’s transition from an independent kingdom to a U.S. territory and then on to the 50th state of the union, a detail that most people don’t often consider,” said Goods. “Because of the incredible renown that he garnered, Duke unwittingly became a symbol that helped guide the people of Hawaii in their struggle to find identity. The play also brings to light the fact that Duke Kahanamoku was brought up in the traditional Hawaiian way of relying on the land and sea for sustenance — also his first language was Hawaiian.”

* The Maui Arts & Cultural Center presents “Duke,” written and performed by Maui native Moses Goods, award-winning actor, writer and storyteller. Goods depicts the life of Duke Paoa Kahanamoku in this one-man show. Performances will be at 5 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 26 in the McCoy Studio Theater. Tickets are $28 (plus applicable fees) and are available at the box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org.

MINI-REVIEW

Because director Linda Carnevale’s production of “Flowers for Algernon” is such a bold new direction for the Baldwin Theatre Guild, a bolder review is due. There are flaws in the performances, but the risks and choices presented on stage are quite refreshing.

The raw aspect of this show, which stars a wonderful collection of colorful ensemble players, is filled with a great many underclassmen overflowing with potential. A miniature method-acting workshop may have been helpful in creating advanced poignant moments, but nevertheless the cast should be very proud of creating a soulful, important drama that is emotive and touching.

In the lead, Michael Tripp, as Charlie Gordon, gives an astoundingly memorable performance. Tripp has the type of dramatic promise to become a powerful stage performer and future asset of a college theater program. His moment of offering a bouquet of flowers to Algernon the mouse is his best example of reining his raw talent, and the tearful scene is the finest I’ve seen in youth theater this season.

Not to be overlooked is Dominique Turner as Dr. Roberta Seldon. Turner not only takes on a traditional male role, but also delivers a mature, collected performance the equal of a much older actor. “Algernon” is a moving piece that is only enhanced by pausing for the effect of its words to sink into the audience. Turner seems to have the best handle on this mid-20th-century acting style.

But the strong character choices do not end there. Danyelle Contreras as Mrs. Donner, Diether Dadiz as Mr. Gordon, Lauryn Ige as Mrs. Gordon, Jaysen Giroux as Young Charlie, Laura Ing as Mrs. Nemur, Myki Padron as Mrs. Feldman, Aiden Phengsy as Professor Nemur, Amanda Rodriguez as Mrs. Mooney and Erin Tsue as Dr. Strauss present noteworthy, rich characterizations. If “Flowers for Algernon” and its deep young cast is an indication of what lies ahead for Baldwin, Carnevale needs to investigate powerful dramas more frequently as it appears she may have touched upon a neglected genre well-suited for her current students.

* The Baldwin Performing Arts Learning Center and Baldwin Theatre Guild continues “Flowers for Algernon” by David Rogers, based on the novel by Daniel Keyes, directed by Linda Carnevale. Final performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Loudon Mini-Theatre on the Baldwin High School campus in Wailuku. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $6 for students and $3 for children 10 and younger and are available at the box office 45 minutes before show time.

ALSO THIS WEEK

Vinnie Linares performs in his seminal role as Father Damien in Aldyth Morris’ “Damien” at 6 p.m. Saturday at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Kula.

* The performance is free, and donations are encouraged. Proceeds will benefit the Upcountry food bank. For more information, call 878-1485 or visit www.stjohnsmaui.org.

UPCOMING

Maui OnStage presents “Mary Poppins: The Broadway Musical,” book by Jullian Fellowes, music and lyrics by Robert and Richard Sherman, with additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. The play, based on the Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke film, will be directed by Alexis Dascoulias, with choreography by Erin Kowalick and musical direction by Steven Dascoulias.

* Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays from Nov. 25 to Dec. 11, with additional 2 p.m. Saturday performances Dec. 3 and 10. Sunday performances will be at 3 p.m. Nov. 27, at 6 p.m. Dec. 4 and 3 p.m. Dec. 11 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.

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