Disney theater popular summer fare
Local troupes present ‘Mulan Jr.’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast Jr.’
In the early 1960s, a trumpet player named Ron Logan was hired to play for the Dixieland Band at Disneyland. Thirty years later he had risen to become an executive in the Disney organization and founded Walt Disney Theatrical. He had the idea to bring staged adapted musicals of Disney animated features to Broadway. The first triumphant success was “Beauty and the Beast” in 1994, and WDT has since adapted nearly every Disney film into stage musicals since then.
Its most recent offering is the current Broadway production of “Anastasia,” with “Pinocchio” slated to open in London for Christmas 2017, and the WDT produced “Frozen” scheduled to open on Broadway in the spring of 2018.
But Disney adaptations don’t end there. In full circle, those Broadway musicals are now returning to film in the form of live action movie musicals. February’s “Beauty and the Beast” is to date the highest grossing film of 2017 with well over $1 billion in worldwide revenue. Next up for Disney is a live action film of “Mulan,” which is presently searching for an all-Chinese cast fluent in both Mandarin and English.
“Mulan” is based on a sixth-century Chinese poem, “The Ballad of Mulan.” Translated, Mulan means Magnolia. Even though the story of Mulan is a fable, she is so revered in China that there is a statue of her in Xinxiang, and a crater discovered by Chinese scientists on Venus is named after her.
In the Disney adaptation, including the stage version presented by the Maui Academy of Performing Arts “Disney’s Mulan Jr.,” an army of Huns invade Han-dynasty China and the emperor orders that one man from each family must join the Chinese army.
When Mulan (Jena Mukai) hears that her elderly father Zhou (Adam Purdy) must to go to war, she steals his old uniform and disguises herself as a man to enlist in his place. Concerned for Mulan’s life, Grandmother Fa (Willow Pfahl) prays to her Ancestors (Caitlyn Campbell, Rylee Hubin, Sophia Presier, Taylor-Ann Takatani and Kealani Warner) for her granddaughter’s safe return. The Ancestors then order the “Great Stone Dragon” to protect Mulan, but Mushu (Shandon Obregon), a puny dragon sent to awaken the Stone Dragon, accidentally destroys it, resolving instead to protect Mulan himself.
“Disney’s Mulan Jr.” is co-directed by Kathleen Schulz and Logan Heller, under the musical direction of Danielle Mealani Delaunay.
• Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays beginning Friday through July 30 in the ‘A’ali’ikuhonua Creative Arts Center on the Seabury Hall campus in Makawao. Reserved seating tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children; general admission tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children. For tickets or more information, visit www.mauiacademy.org.
Walt Disney attempted to create a “Beauty and the Beast” animated film in the 1930s and it remained a back-burner project up until his death in 1966. Since the Disney renaissance of the 1990s, “Beauty and the Beast” has perhaps become its greatest modern commodity.
On Maui alone, the musical has been presented as a youth show on four occasions in the past 12 years, with this weekend’s Theatre Theatre Maui production of “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” being the fifth time; it was previously produced by TTM in 2009.
The fable “La Belle et la Bete” by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve was first published in France in 1740. In the Disney adaptation, an enchantress disguised as a beggar offers a callous prince a rose in exchange for one night’s shelter. When he refuses, she transforms him into a beast and all his servants including Lumiere (Rory Delaney), Mrs. Potts (Harley Delatori) and Chip (Shelsea Wurts) into household objects.
She presents the Beast (Harry Moses Flores) with a rose cautioning him that, unless he learns to love and earns love in return, when the last petal falls he and his servants will lose their human form forever.
Years later, Belle (Charlise Wurts) dreams of adventures and rebuffs the advances of the arrogant Gaston (Landon Long). Belle’s father Maurice (Ace Green), while lost in the woods, seeks shelter in the castle and the Beast imprisons him. The Beast agrees to let Belle take her father’s place as his captive when she searches for and finds her father a prisoner.
Lahaina’s Theatre Theatre Maui presents “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr.,” directed by Kristi Scott, choreographed by Felicia Chernicki-Wulf and under the musical direction of Aida Moala.
• Performances are at 7 p.m. today through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Lahaina Gateway Center, Suite F101. Tickets are $12 for ages 13 and older and $7 for ages 3 to 12 and are available in advance at Lahaina Music. Children ages 2 and younger get in free. For more information, contact Theatre Theatre Maui at 661-1168 or visit www.ttmwest.org.
Also this week
Sesame Street Live! returns to Maui with “Elmo Makes Music.”
• Performances are at 6:30 p.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m., 2 and 5:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 4:30 p.m. Sunday in Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului. Tickets range from $15 to $75 (plus applicable fees). To purchase tickets, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or order online at www.mauiarts.org.
Maui OnStage Youth Theater presents “Willy Wonka Kids,” directed by Alexis Dascoulias.
• Performances are at 11 a.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. Sundays, through July 30 at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for children. To purchase tickets call 242-6969 or order online at www.mauion
Maui OnStage will be holding auditions for “Harvey,” by Mary Chase from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday with callbacks on Wednesday at the Historic Iao Theater. Actors must bring a headshot, resume and prepare a short comedic monologue. Performances of “Harvey,” directed by Dale Button, will run weekends Sept. 29 through Oct. 15. Character descriptions and more information are available at www. mauionstage.com. To schedule an appointment, call 244-8680, ext. 23.