ProArts Playhouse spoofs master of suspense
Mel Brooks, the master of parody, took on Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, in 1977’s movie “High Anxiety.” In one scene mocking Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” instead of being pecked to death by a flock of birds, Brooks found himself covered in pigeon droppings.
Similarly, Patrick Barlow’s comedic version of “The 39 Steps” is chock full of Hitchcock spoofs ranging from the entire plot of his 1935 political thriller “The 39 Steps” to “Strangers on a Train,” “Rear Window,” “Psycho,” “Vertigo” and “North by Northwest.” This high-octane comedy opens next weekend at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei, and it is filled with as many thrills as laughs with just four actors portraying the more than 150 characters.
The local cast, which certainly has their work cut out for them, are by no means strangers to madcap comedy. Lina Aiko Krueger (“Spamalot”), Patty Lee (“Love, Sex and the IRS”), John Williams (“Spamalot”) and Ross Young (“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”) have all delighted Maui audiences in the recent past with over-the-top, uproarious performances. I asked director Kristi Scott about the challenges this script presents to the ProArts cast.
“It was originally written for a cast of four, two of the players have the lion’s share of parts,” Scott said. “Costuming is a challenge, then there are the transitions from scene to scene. It was originally a movie, so they could afford lots of scene changes.”
Scott also shared what the talented quartet will be bringing to the stage comedy-wise.
“These crazy people have so much creativity and silliness. Lina and Ross bring so much physical comedy, which makes them perfect for the clowns. John and Patty have a great chemistry together, and they are all up for anything. They each have a particular style that fits their characters, and they all improvise and play together really well as a cast,” she shared.
ProArts has championed the mystery genre over the past few years, and I asked Scott why suspense is a good fit for the ProArts Playhouse.
“I think it really started with the success of ‘The Mouse Trap’ a few years ago. Since then, we have found the genre to be popular with our audiences. I think the intimacy of the space adds to the tension and fun of the mysteries — getting so close keeps you in the action,” she said.
In addition to serving as director for “The 39 Steps,” Scott has been the managing director for ProArts since this year’s theater season began. Expanding its season to nearly double the size of its theatrical offerings from last year, Scott talked about ProArts’ evolution.
“We have made a lot of progress — I sometimes have to remind myself it has only been six months. I am pleased with what we have accomplished, and there is more I’d like to have happen. I tend to get impatient and have to step back and remember to take baby steps,” Scott offered. “I think we have a great season, and I am excited with the people we have worked with already and the new faces that have joined our ohana. I am really looking forward to the next six months.”
The Maui Arts and Cultural Center’s Castle Theater in Kahului presents Ananya Dance Theatre’s “Shyamali: Sprouting Words” at 7:30 p.m. tonight. This Minneapolis-based dance company describe itself as a professional, contemporary Indian-American dance company comprised primarily of women artists of color and cultural activists working through dance to engage audiences, build community and move towards justice and beauty.
It celebrates proactive dissent, recognizing the courage of women who speak up to sustain communities against injustice. With dance as a choreographic response to global issues, the company is part of a social justice movement inspiring audiences through visual and emotional engagement.
A special guest appearance in the performance by local favorite Napua Greig adds to the show.
* Performance is tonight at 7:30 in the Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului. General admission tickets range from $12 to $65 (plus applicable fees). To purchase tickets for any MACC event, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or order online at www.mauiarts.org.
Light Weight Theatre and Adult Waldorf Education of Maui present “This War Is Not Inevitable” by Michael Burton. This two- actor performed drama (Burton and Christian Peterson), set during World War I, addresses the imbalance of the governmental, economic and cultural forces and offers a serious alternative to war using the ideals of equality, brotherhood and liberty.
* Performance at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Christopher Hall on the Haleakala Waldorf School campus in Kula. A $10 donation is suggested. For more information, call 878-3340.
Seabury Hall Performing Arts presents “These Shining Lives” by Melanie Marnich, directed by Sally Sefton. This moving drama is based on the real-life catastrophe of the “radium girls,” young female factory workers who adorned glow-in-the-dark watches with radium paint in the 1920s.
* Performances are at 7 p.m. Saturday with additional performances at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Sundays through March 4 at the ‘A’ali’ikuhonua Creative Arts Center on the Seabury Hall campus in Makawao. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for students. For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit www.seaburyhall.org.
Kamehameha Schools Drama Club presents two one-act plays, “S.P.A.R.” by Stephen Gregg and “The Shakespeare Project” adapted by James Zager from William Shakespeare, directed by Camille Romero.
* Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, March 2 through 11 at the Keopuolani Hale on the Kamehameha Schools Maui campus in Pukalani. Admission is free to all Kamehameha Schools productions.
Baldwin Theatre Guild presents “Once Upon a Mattress,” music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer, book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller and Marshall Barer. The local youth production is directed by Linda Carnevale, choreographed by Dejah Padon, under the musical direction of Tana Larson and conducted by Stephen Rodrigues. In this comical retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Princess and the Pea,” King Sextimus (Danyelle Contreras) has lost the ability to speak due to a curse. His terror of a wife, Queen Aggravain (Alexis Ong), has taken control of the kingdom. In an attempt to keep Prince Dauntless (Jaysen Giroux) single, she decrees that only the princess that can pass her test may marry her son, and no one in the kingdom may marry until the prince does. Enter Winnifred the Woebegone (Dominique Turner) who not only catches the prince’s eye, but is also up for the challenge of the seemingly impassable “sensitivity test.”
* Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, March 2 through 11 with an additional 2 p.m. matinee on March 10 at the Baldwin Auditorium on the H. P. Baldwin High School campus in Wailuku. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $7 for youth ages 12 to 17 and $5 for ages 11 and under and are available at the box office 45 minutes before showtime.
Maui OnStage presents “Cabaret,” music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, book by Joe Masteroff and based on the John Van Druten play “I Am a Camera” and the Christopher Isherwood novel “Goodbye to Berlin.” The local production is directed and choreographed by Kalani Whitford and under the musical direction of Steven Dascoulias.
In the shadow of the rise of the Nazi Party lies the Kit Kat Klub, a seedy, avant-garde Berlin cabaret overseen by the gender-bending Master of Ceremonies. This musical theater classic features Bob Fosse’s celebrated choreography and the familiar songs “Wilkommen,” “Money” and the title track.
* Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, March 2 through 18 at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku. Tickets range from $20 to $40. To purchase tickets for any Iao Theater event, call 242-6969 or order online at www.mauionstage.com.