Sharing Mana‘o

“The word ‘theatre’ comes from the Greeks. It means ‘the seeing place.’ It is where people come to see the truth about life and the social situation.”

— Stella Adler, actress, acting teacher, author

Newcomers and visitors to Maui often express surprise at the quality of live theatre here. Many Mainland communities our size don’t offer nearly as many opportunities or variety. This month alone, theatre lovers could enjoy six different productions ranging from heart-wrenching drama to side-splitting comedy. The biggest disappointment for me is that my schedule doesn’t allow me to attend all of the shows I’d like to see.

I did catch two of those productions last weekend — more in a moment — but missed out on “S.P.A.R.” and “The Shakespeare Project” at Kamehameha Schools Maui, “These Shining Lives” at Seabury Hall and the Baldwin Theatre Guild’s “Once Upon a Mattress.”

On Maui, high school dramatics carry as much weight as the established community theatre groups. Many teenage performers already have years of stage experience under their belts, thanks to youth groups including Maui Academy of Performing Arts, Theater Theater Maui and Maui OnStage Youth Theater. And much credit should go to Sue Ann Loudon, who set the bar 50 years ago with her creation of the Baldwin High School Drama Club.

Miss Loudon retired in 2005 after 40 years of teaching acting and stagecraft. She always gave 100 percent of herself and expected the same of us students. I remember her telling us, “I don’t want to hear ‘what a great show for a high school production,’ I want to hear, simply, ‘what a great show!’ “

Today, that standard is continued and consistently met, not only by Miss Loudon’s successor at Baldwin, Linda Carnevale, but also by teachers and troupes including Chris Kepler and the King Kekaulike HS Drama Club, Camille Romero and Kamehameha Schools Maui, and Sally Sefton and Seabury Hall Performing Arts. It’s no surprise to longtime local theatregoers that almost all of those teachers were “Loudon kids.”

A few more Loudon kids are involved in the shows I did see last weekend — “Cabaret” on Friday and “The 39 Steps” on Saturday. Both shows have received multiple raves, and I’m not a theatre reviewer, so I will limit my comments to one word each: Wow and Wow.

This weekend is your last opportunity to catch “Cabaret” at the Historic Iao Theater and “The 39 Steps” at the ProArtsPlayhouse in Kihei. Both have been selling out, so you’d best get your tickets as soon as you finish reading this column.

If you find yourself turned away at the box office, or if you’ve already seen those shows (blatant self-promotion coming up!), please join us for the opening of “Tartuffe” at Seabury Hall’s A’ali’ikuhonua Creative Arts Center. Presented by Oh Boy! Productions in collaboration with Seabury Hall, and co-directed by Vinnie Linares and Jennifer Rose, this Moliere farce was first performed in 1664. Our version is set in late 19th century England, but the characters and con games depicted are as timely as the evening news.

In explaining why he formed Oh Boy! with the mission of producing classic theatre, Vinnie said, “A play is identified as classic because it resonates in current society as much as it did when first written, offering tangible examples of the human condition throughout time.” Humor, hypocrisy, love and lust are just some of the truths you’ll see in “Tartuffe.”

Kalani Whitford, who directed and choreographed “Cabaret,” stars in the title role. He is one of several Loudon kids in this production, including Francis Taua, Barry Kawakami and yours truly. Longtime Seabury Hall teacher Todd van Amburgh plays the male lead Orgon, and two Seabury students, Bailey Dalzell and Zachary Kubo, add a sweet twinkle as young lovers. Liam Ball, Larry Goodknight, Jim Oxborrow, Barbara Sedano and Lisa Teichner complete the cast.

“Tartuffe” opens Saturday night for a six-show run, including two Sunday matinees — this Sunday and March 25. The rest of the evening performances are March 22 through March 24. Tickets are available only at the door, no advance sales or reservations.

Also called “The Impostor,” Moliere’s “Tartuffe” is a prime example of Stella Adler’s observation quoted above. I hope you will come and see for yourself.

* Kathy Collins is a storyteller, actress and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is kcmaui913@gmail.com.

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