When Moses Goods and Vincent Linares were in the cast of "Othello" in 2007, the two men got to talking about something they had uniquely in common - they both performed intense one-man plays about important characters in Hawaiian history.
Goods enacted the role of Kaulula'au, a relatively unknown ali'i of Maui and Lanai, more than 70 times in the last decade, with regular Sunday shows at The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, as well as a multitude of other venues. Linares had taken on the character of Father Damien de Veuster, the "leper priest of Molokai," more than 50 times with performances everywhere from Haiku to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
"These two men have both shaped Hawaiian history," Linares says. "They have a lot in common in terms of personality, drive and perseverance We said, 'Let's put them back-to-back and see what happens.' "
Moses Goods (left) as Kaulula‘au
The result is a fascinating juxtaposition of "Two Men: Two Hawaiian Destinies" - Goods performing "The Legend of Kaulula'au" by Keali'iwahine Hokoana, and Linares performing "Damien" by Aldyth Morris - at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's McCoy Studio Theater next weekend.
A master storyteller who now shares his skills at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Goods impressed audiences as far away as Germany with his narration of last year's epic hula drama "Kahekili." Now in "Kaulula'au," he tells the tale of a boy who was born to a woman resurrected from the dead, was banished to Lanai, and faced demons, prophecy and the wrath of his father in his rise to become a chief. Goods voices a variety of characters along the young ali'i's journey.
Like the man he plays, Goods says he has grown and evolved over the years since he first portrayed Kaulula'au. "It's really me learning my craft and becoming much more embedded in the culture," he says, "so I'm able to make different connections with characters in the play that I didn't make before."
Linares, too, has seen his portrayal of Damien change over time. The longtime Maui Community College professor of English says the 33 pages of monologue are becoming more daunting to memorize - "Maybe it's me getting older, but it gets harder and harder every time!" he jokes.
Still, he continues to be drawn to Damien for the priest's strong faith in the face of incredible challenges. "He was a down-to-earth, real hard-working guy," Linares says. "He would probably have been embarrassed by his sainthood; he would think, 'I only did what I was supposed to do.' "
With the recent announcement by the Vatican that Father Damien will be canonized on Oct. 11, interest in the Kalaupapa priest is at an all-time high. Linares hopes to be in Rome for the ceremony.
Meanwhile, Maui audiences will have a unique opportunity to learn more about these two influential men in Hawaiian history, and to share their thoughts in a "talk story" session with the actors and playwright Hokoana after the show.
Showtimes for "Two Men: Two Hawaiian Destinies" are 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 18; and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, April 19, at the MACC's McCoy Studio Theater. Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for seniors and students. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Maui Food Bank. 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.
Last time comedian Rex Navarrete performed on Maui, the show sold out. Now, several years later, Navarrete is back and he says he's crossing his fingers that the tough economy won't keep the crowds away.
"I believe that if you create a following for your comedy, there'll always be an audience that needs to see and hear it," he says from his home in the Bay Area. "So far, my gigs are doing all right, but I can never take that for granted."
The hugely popular Filipino comedian headlines "Fil-Am Comedy Jam V" at 8 p.m. Friday at the Historic Iao Theater. Fans can expect plenty of laughs from the creator of "Badly Browned" and "Hella Pinoy," with material that includes some social and political commentary.
"I'm getting older, so I expect growth in my own writing," Navarrete says. Although he tends to focus on issues affecting Filipinos, he writes for "anyone willing to listen to stories that may run parallel to their own experiences." Presented by Two Flip Productions, Friday's show also features Joey Guila, 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 Historic Iao Theater, Da Kitchen restaurants or Urban City at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center.
"Guys and Dolls" opens Friday night at the Baldwin High School Auditorium. Linda Carnevale directs her first graduating class in a cast of 40 students as they take on New York City in the early 1950s. Characters in the musical comedy include oddball gambler Nathan Detroit, suave ladies' man Sky Masterson and uptight "mission doll" Sarah Brown; with favorite songs like "Luck Be a Lady" backed up by a live orchestra. 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 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. The students will perform two school shows for 7th- and 8th-graders on Thursday, April 16. Interested schools may contact Carnevale at 984-5656, ext. 315.
Maui Academy of Performing Arts presents "The Grapes of Wrath" at Steppingstone Playhouse at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center, through April 19. Based on John Steinbeck's epic novel and adapted by Frank Galati, the play features live period music that weaves the scenes together. Published in 1939, "The Grapes of Wrath" follows the Joad family in their journey from Oklahoma to California, a place they believe is "never cold and there's fruit everyplace." As they confront the harsh realities of the Depression, Steinbeck's language moves and inspires. Daryl Jane stars as Tom Joad, Carolyn Wright as Ma, William Makozak as Pa, and Perry Kunin as former preacher Jim Casy. David Johnston directs. 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. (See the review on the following page.)
Maui Choral Arts presents "Music & Harmony in Paradise" at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, April 19 in the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater. "Concert Conversations" begin at 3:30 p.m. More than 125 community participants include singers from the Maui Concert, Maui Youth and Maui Community College choruses directed by Celia Canty, together with the 50-piece Maui Community Band conducted by Lisa Owen. Special guest Wally Amos narrates the concert that features music and stories celebrating themes of 2009: Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday, a presidential inauguration, and a message of hope and harmony. Tickets are $12, $22 and $32, with a discount for seniors, children and students.
Professional Artists of the Pacific LLC, in partnership with MAPA, will hold auditions for "Cinderella" at Steppingstone Playhouse from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Nine actors will play all the roles in this musical version of a "fractured fairytale." Applicants age 14 and older should bring a resume and head shot and prepare a two- to three-minute vocal selection. Rehearsals begin May 15, with performances from May 29 to June 7. To schedule an audition appointment or for more information, call 875-4367.
"Banzai, Darling," a Chekhovian comedy by Hawaiian playwright David P. Penhallow, is this month's Bare Essential Theater reading. Set in a Maui solarium in 1934, the play deals with the personal struggles of Eudora Whitney and the social issues of the time period. B.E.T. is presented by Maui OnStage at the Historic Iao Theater at 6:30 p.m. Monday. Admission is free. For more information, call Kristi Scott at 244-8680, ext. 23.