Under the spotlight

Maui high school drama programs present season openers

Danny Pieper and Anastasia Morales-Middleton portray star-crossed young lovers in King Kekaulike Drama Club’s season opener, “Romeo and Juliet.” Photo courtesy King Kekaulike Drama

Each November, Maui’s high school theater programs present their first shows of the season, wedged between homecoming dances and the long Thanksgiving weekend.

This weekend, King Kekaulike Drama Club opens its season in the magnificent King Kekaulike Performing Arts Center with “Romeo and Juliet.”

Although nearly every modern story and film borrows heavily from William Shakespeare and other classical authors, Shakespeare equally borrowed near entire plots from earlier classical writings.

“Romeo and Juliet,” has been universally taught by both English and drama instructors for centuries, but its cousin, written during the time of Caesar Augustus and Jesus Christ, is Ovid’s novel “Metamorphoses.”

In that story, Pyramus and Thisbe are two Babylonian next-door-neighbor lovers, forbidden to see each other due to parental rivalry. Despite their parents’ orders, they arrange to meet at a cemetery. Thisbe arrives first where she is confronted by a lioness with a mouth bloodied from a kill. She loses her veil while fleeing. Pyramus arrives moments later and finds Thisbe’s torn veil covered in blood. Assuming Thisbe is dead, Pyramus kills himself. When Thisbe returns and finds Pyramus dead, she stabs herself with his sword.

Jaysen Giroux (from left), Lauryn Ige, Deither Dadiz and Dwight Semanero tackle teen bullying in Baldwin’s Performing Arts Learning Center and Baldwin Theatre Guild’s presentation of “The Bully Plays.” Jack Grace photo

The similar “Romeo and Juliet,” a tragedy written at the beginning of Shakespeare’s career, is the quintessential teen tale of star-crossed lovers. Forbidden by the feuding Montague and Capulet families to pursue their love, it is their deaths that ultimately reconcile their fathers.

Director Chris Kepler’s King Kekaulike production is set in the late 1980s and stars Danny Pieper and Anastasia Morales-Middleton as the archetypal young lovers.

* King Kekaulike High School presents William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, through 10 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11 at the King Kekaulike Performing Arts Center on the King Kekaulike High School campus in Pukalani. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students, and are available at the box office 30 minutes before showtime. For more information, visit www.kingkekau like.com.

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Seabury Hall Performing Arts opens its 30th anniversary season with the 1930s Broadway standard, Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes.” This musical-comedy, set on an ocean liner, features many of Porter’s most popular songs including “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” “It’s De-Lovely,” “Let’s Misbehave” and the title track.

Carl Molinaro (from left), Caitlyn Cambell and Gabe Frampton open Seabury Hall Performing Arts 30th anniversary season with the Cole Porter classic, “Anything Goes.” PETER SWANZEY photo

When Billy (Carl Molinaro) discovers the love of his life, Hope (Megan Malcolm), is on a cruise with her fiance, Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (Carver Glomb), he enlists the help of his old nightclub and evangelist friend, Reno Sweeney (Caitlyn Campbell), along with his new gangster friend, Moonface Martin (Gabe Frampton) and his moll, Erma (Taylor Takatani), to help him win back Hope. All this while hiding from his boss Elisha Whitney (Daniel Judge), and avoiding his sweetheart’s mother, Evangeline Harcourt (Stefani Peterson) — needless to say, farcical antics ensue.

Award-winning choreographer David Ward directs and choreographs a cast of more than two dozen student sailors, gangsters, evangelist singers, society debutantes and a Wall Street tycoon aided by music director Tana Larson. Costume designers Andre Morissette and Vanessa Cerrito recreate the 1930s fashions, and Todd Van Amburgh designs the set.

“We’re doing this show to celebrate our 30th season because it was one of our most successful musicals ever. We also opened the Performing Arts Studio with it in 1995 — our first show in a new home after years of doing shows in our dining hall. How wonderful for kids to be learning songs like the title song, ‘Anything Goes,’ and perpetuating this tradition,” says Ward.

Larson agrees: “These Cole Porter songs are 80 years old, but when we watch these teenagers discover them fresh, we’re reminded that they are timeless.”

* Seabury Hall Performing Arts presents “Anything Goes,” music and lyrics by Cole Porter, book by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse, directed by David Ward, under the musical direction of Tana Larson. Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, opening Saturday, Nov. 10 through 17 and 3 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 11 and 18 at the ‘A’ali’ikuhonua Creative Arts Center on the Seabury Hall campus in Makawao. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors and $7 for students (with $2 discounts if purchased in advance). For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit www.seaburyhall.org.

Yezzi Nicole (from left), Cady Cox, Jessica Bartlett, Amelia Couture and Lindsay Larson from Dance Maui 2017. Chelsea Fine photo

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Also next weekend, the Baldwin Performing Arts Learning Center and Baldwin Theatre Guild will open “The Bully Plays,” a collection of short plays written by several authors. This anthology of 10-minute plays was commissioned in 2015 in response to the growing epidemic of bullying and its sometimes tragic results.

“Sixteen cast members play three or more different characters. The plays are touching, imaginative, powerful, uplifting and funny. This collection of short plays will challenge, inspire and enlighten audiences and help you confront the issue of bullying in a constructive and creative way,” shared Linda Carnevale, director and performing arts teacher.

In “Bully-Bully” by Cherie Bennett, a teen girl who just wants to be popular and fit in learns that if you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

“A Bully There Be,” by Lisa Dillman, is set in a royal palace where a serving wench schools an arrogant prince on the causes and consequences of his bullying of the court jester.

“Bystander Blues,” by Trish Lindberg, exposes the inner thoughts of a group of bystanders watching a bullying incident, as well as the feelings of the target.

In “The Final Testimony of Henry Samsom,” by Y. York, a court judges a teenager accused of sexual misconduct.

“Send,” by Linda Daugherty, examines the anguish of a teen who sends an inappropriate picture of herself to her boyfriend. The photo goes viral, and she sinks into depression while those responsible face unexpected consequences.

“What Goes Around,” by D.W. Gregory, looks at a bullying boss and an emotional chain reaction that comes back to him in ways he never imagined.

* Baldwin Theatre Guild presents “The Bully Plays,” directed by Linda Carnevale. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 9 through 17 and 3 p.m. Sunday Nov. 18, with a special 3 p.m. afterschool performance on Monday, Nov. 19 at the Loudon Mini-Theatre on the H.P. 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 showtime. To reserve tickets, call 727-3297.

Upcoming

Oahu’s Kumu Kahua Theatre presents “Pakalolo Sweet” by Hannah Ii-Epstein.

* Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 9 and 10 in the McCoy Studio Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului. Tickets are $28 (plus applicable fees). “Pakalolo Sweet” contains adult themes, smoking and adult language. To purchase tickets for any MACC event, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or order online at www.mauiarts.org.

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ProArts presents “Vindication, Scenes from the Life of Mary Wollstonecraft” by Lin McEwan.

* Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 9 through 18 at the ProArts Playhouse at Azeka Place Makai in Kihei. Tickets are $15 to $26. “Vindication” contains adult themes. For more information or to purchase tickets for any ProArts event, call 463-6550 or visit www.proartsmaui.com.

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Adaptations Dance Theater presents the fourth annual “Dance Maui 2018,” a festival showcasing Maui’s dance organizations as one community.

* Performance is 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10 in the Yokouchi Pavilion at the MACC. General admission tickets are $15 (plus applicable fees), children 12 and younger get in free. To purchase tickets, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or order online at www.mauiarts.org.

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