I t's been four years since Linda Carnevale took over the Baldwin High School drama program from the legendary Sue Loudon. Back then, Trevor Komatsu, Kalee Peterson and Edmund Pfleegor were shy, awkward freshmen, looking up to the senior Thespians with wide eyes.
Now Komatsu, Peterson and Pfleegor are senior Thespians themselves - getting ready for "Guys and Dolls," their last big musical at Baldwin.
It's a bittersweet moment for Carnevale, who has shared countless triumphs and challenges with this graduating class over the last four years. "These are my kids!" she says. "Of the 14 seniors graduating, 10 have been in every musical since they were freshmen. They have been the real driving force behind this program."
Sky Barnhart photo
Edmund Pfleegor (from left), Trevor Komatsu and Kalee Peterson are part of the first graduating class for Baldwin director Linda Carnevale (right).
Komatsu has participated, often in a starring role, in every single production: "Footloose," "Fiddler on the Roof," "Oklahoma," "Into the Woods," variety shows, Christmas shows - even last year's two-man, 20-character show "Greater Tuna."
"I was pretty terrified, but Carnevale really trusted me, and that gave me confidence," Komatsu says. Now he plays the lead role of Sky Masterson in "Guys and Dolls."
For Pfleegor, who has gone from being a chorus member to now playing Nathan Detroit, it was a matter of taking "a leap out of my comfort zone."
"I wanted to be pushed, and (Carnevale) helped out," he says. "I never saw myself as a lead and it was kind of edgy for me, but I took the responsibility she gave me."
The kids haven't been the only ones to stretch beyond their comfort zones into new capabilities. Carnevale says her first year at Baldwin "in Miss Loudon's shadow" was a challenge. But with the support of students, parents, Baldwin Principal Natalie Gonsalves and the community, she has not only maintained the program's reputation but strengthened it for the future.
Along the way, she has learned the value of direct, honest communication with her students and how to balance the teacher/director/student relationship. "I've learned to deal with 10 million personalities at one time!" Carnevale says.
As Komatsu puts it, "Drama teaches you really good people skills. If you get rubbed the wrong way, you can't run away because you still have to rehearse together!"
Peterson, who is costume manager for "Guys and Dolls," says her theater experience has taught her to be resourceful, creating costumes and props out of limited materials; and better able to control her emotions. Pfleegor says he has learned a lot about himself: "like I really love to dance!"
None of the three harbor Broadway ambitions - although they are looking forward to seeing the shows during the Thespian trip with Carnevale this summer. Next year, Peterson plans to study nursing at Maui Community College, Pfleegor will attend a Mainland university, and Komatsu hopes to integrate theater with missionary work overseas.
For now, these seniors have a different kind of job: to pass down what they have learned to a huge new crop of freshmen. "To see their eagerness and enthusiasm for the program is really fun," Peterson says.
In a program like Baldwin, where every production is student-run from the sets to the concessions, there's a lot of knowledge to share.
"We get to exaggerate the old stories and see their eyes get wide," Komatsu jokes. Not unlike where these Thespians were just four years ago
n "Guys and Dolls" opens Friday, April 10, and runs two weekends at the Baldwin Auditorium. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, with an additional matinee at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 18. Tickets are $12 for adults, $9 for senior citizens, $6 for students (17 and younger); available at the door 45 minutes before showtime or through any cast member. A gala dinner at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 11, will raise funds for the Thespians' summer theater trip to New York City. Gala tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens, $8 for children under 12. Reservations required; call 984-5656, ext. 315.
Frank DeLima describes his background as "veritable Portuguese soup," consisting of Portuguese, Hawaiian, Irish, Chinese, English, Spanish and Scottish. It's a combination that has served the versatile comedian well as he consistently draws crowds at venues throughout Hawaii and the West Coast, including 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's McCoy Studio Theater.
"The ability to draw laughter or a smile is one of the greatest gifts you can give to people," DeLima has said. Along with plenty of laughs, DeLima gives plenty of kokua through his Frank DeLima Student Enrichment Program, founded in 1980. The nonprofit organization is devoted to helping Hawaii students understand the importance of reading, studying and family - and of course, laughter.
* Tickets are $25, half-price for kids 12 and younger. Applicable fees are added to tickets for all MACC shows, available at the MACC box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org.
John Steinbeck's Depression-era novel, "The Grapes of Wrath," comes to life at Steppingstone Playhouse at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center, opening Friday night. The Maui Academy of Performing Arts' production is directed by David Johnston and features a talented local cast and live band. Published in 1939, "The Grapes of Wrath" tells the story of the Joad family and their epic struggle to make a new life for themselves against the backdrop of a nation in turmoil. The novel won both Pulitzer and Nobel prizes and is a mainstay of college and high school literature classes, with grit and inspiration that continues to ring true today. "The Grapes of Wrath" runs through April 19. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays (no performance on Easter Sunday). Tickets are $16; available at the mall's Customer Service Kiosk, by calling 244-8760, or online at www.mauiacademy.org.
The Fil-Am Comedy Jam V opens its first Hawaii tour on Maui at 8 p.m. Friday, April 10, at the Historic Iao Theater. Presented by Two Flip Productions, the fifth annual event stars popular Filipino comedian Rex Navarrete, who sells out shows across the U.S. and in the Philippines. Appearing along with Navarrete is Joey Guila, winner of the western division of the First Asian-American National stand-up competition and the regional Kings of Comedy in 2003. They will be joined by Kaleo Pilanca and emcee Lanai from Island 98.5 FM radio. The event is for 18 years and older only. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door; available online at www.islandtix.com, or at the Iao Theater, Da Kitchen restaurants or Urban City at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center.
Warming up for the May 1 opening of "Steel Magnolias," Maui OnStage takes the idea of "singles night" to a new level. The Ultimate Maui Singles Night at 6 p.m. Friday at the Historic Iao Theater features the Erin Smith Band, pupu by Beverly Gannon, speed dating, and a "Maui Celebrity Live Dating Auction" with desirable picks like award-winning singer/songwriter Steve Zuwala, Kit Kat Club's Ellen Peterson, Maui Wowee Kava Bar owner Michael Capuano, singer/actress Lynnea Barry, Highly Unlikely lead singer Ryan Serrano and Maui Time Weekly journalist Kate Bradshaw. The event is for age 21 and older only. All proceeds benefit MOS. Tickets are $40 (advance purchase required); "Girls Night Out" discount of $10 off per woman in groups of six or more; available by calling 242-6969 or online at www.mauionstage.com.
Auditions for "Cinderella" will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at Steppingstone Playhouse. Following the success of "Sleeping Beauty," Professional Artists of the Pacific LLC is again partnering with MAPA to present another "fractured fairytale." Nine actors will play all the roles including Cinderella, her wicked stepmother and stepsisters, the handsome prince, the fairy godmother, and an organized rat, in this new musical adaptation of the classic tale. The auditions are non-gender-specific and are for singers, actors and dancers age 14 and up. Applicants should bring a current resume and headshot and prepare a two-to-three-minute vocal selection, preferably an uptempo tune from a Broadway show (bring sheet music for the provided accompanist). Rehearsals begin May 15, with performances from May 29 to June 7. To schedule an audition appointment or for more information, call 875-4367.
Hawaiian playwright David P. Penhallow's "Bonzai Darling" will be the reading at this month's Bare Essential Theater. The play is set on Maui in 1934, and follows Eudora Whitney as she deals with a failing marriage, a dying son, greedy relatives and racial conflict during the holiday season. B.E.T. is presented by Maui OnStage at the Historic Iao Theater at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 13. Admission is free. For more information, call Kristi Scott at 244-8680, ext. 23.
Maui's own Ka'iulani Project will open the 28th Hawaiian/ Scottish Festival in Honolulu this weekend. Actor and Merrie Monarch host Kimo Kaho'ano, Maui playwright Jennifer Fahrni, Leilani Kupahu-Marino, Hawaiian piper Jacob Kaio and Scottish piper Hamish Burgess of Maui Celtic will perform segments from Fahrni's original script "Ka'iulani - The Island Rose." Co-written with Carol Harvie-Yamaguchi, the play honors the heroism of Hawaiian/Scottish Princess Ka'iulani Cleghorn. Kaho'ano, a direct descendant of Ka'iulani's father, Archibald Cleghorn, will represent King Kalakaua, while Kupahu-Marino represents Ka'iulani. The tribute opens the free festival at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Queen Kapiolani Park. For more information, visit www.thekaiulaniproject.com.