Just because the handsome prince put the magic slipper on Cinderella's dainty foot doesn't mean he deserves all the credit for "rescuing" her.
"I can actually help myself just fine, thank you!" is what she tells the prince in the new production of "Cinderella" opening at Steppingstone Theater next weekend.
"That's one of my favorite lines!" says Arielle Lehua Simon, who plays Cinderella. "She succeeds not because the prince rescues her, but because she keeps her sights high and believes in the magic, and that helps her to a better place."
ProArts of the Pacific. LLC. photo
Arielle Lehua Simon is an independent-minded Cinderella in this new comedy
Those are the kind of fun, modern twists that are quickly becoming a trademark of the "fractured fairy tale" musical adaptations by Professional Artists of the Pacific, LLC. Riding on the recent success of "Sleeping Beauty," ProArts writer/producers Jonathan Lehman and Doug Kendrick are planning a series of five or six of these keiki-focused productions a year in association with Maui Academy of the Performing Arts. (They're also planning an annual adult musical production - watch for "Cabaret" audition notices next month.)
"The shows are appropriate for all ages," Kendrick says. "Adults and teens who saw 'Sleeping Beauty' had a good time too, because we try to work in humor that goes over the kids' heads to the adults."
Another trademark of ProArts shows is the condensed timeframe, with just two weeks of rehearsals before opening night. "It's helpful in terms of attracting good talent to not tie up their time any more than is necessary," Kendrick says. "The actors get their scripts and music early, so they're asked to do some homework and come prepared."
Simon says she loves the shortened process. "The directors are very organized about how they use their time," she says. "I appreciate that efficiency!"
Especially in Simon's case, coming into "Cinderella" straight off Maui OnStage's three-week run of "Steel Magnolias," in which she played Shelby. The two characters have some qualities in common, according to Simon: namely, their sense of optimism and hope for the best. Of course, "it's nice to have a happy ending" this time!
And "Cinderella's" happy ending should be pretty fantastic, according to the ProArts crew. They won't divulge exact details, but it might involve a magical dress transformation and some enchanted glow sticks in the hands of young audience members. That's another ProArts trademark: audience participation for the little ones, like getting to dance at the ball in "Sleeping Beauty" and having the opportunity to meet the actors before and after the show.
The veteran cast of nine actors includes Camille Romero as the Fairy Godmother, Rose Roselinsky as the Wicked Stepmother, and Cat Hayes and Dale Button as the Wicked Stepsisters - although Button won't be quite as evil as his very bad fairy from "Sleeping Beauty."
"We won't send anybody running for mama's lap with this one!" Kendrick says. "I couldn't be more excited about this cast. They're gonna blow the doors off the Steppingstone!"
Accomplished musical director Marti Kluth joins the veteran crew of costume designer Kathleen Schulz and scenic designer Caro Walker for the show.
For Simon, although she loves her day job as office manager of Yoga Awareness in Makawao, to have her first paying job as an actress is like a dream come true.
That's right: in acknowledgement of all their hard work, "Cinderella" cast and crew members actually get paid -what for some might be the best ProArts trademark of all!
* "Cinderella" opens Friday, May 29, and runs through Sunday, June 7, at Steppingstone Playhouse at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; and 1 and 4 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $8.50; available at the mall's customer service desk or by calling 875-4367. For more information, visit www.proartspacific.com.
Seabury Hall Performing Arts wraps up its season with "Side Shows," the 14th annual festival of one-act plays. Todd Van Amburgh, who directs the festival with Sally Sefton, calls the show "fast and fun - a roller coaster ride for the audience." The show consists of seven plays of about 10 minutes each, written by professional contemporary playwright David Ives and by Seabury student playwrights: seniors Sabie Fleming, Jon Gorman, Johanna Harran, Zoe Kleiman and James Perlman. Maui theater professional Vinnie Linares guides student directors Gorman and Shaun Malkovich, along with over 40 student actors. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Seabury Hall Performance Studio in Makawao.
* Tickets are $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $4 for students. For reservations and information, call 573-1257.
"Come and see what Maui is doing in dance!" says MAPA Director of Dance Kathleen Schulz. Hundreds of Maui dancers of all ages will fill the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater this weekend in four jam-packed shows at MAPA's Spring Extravaganza. Every one of MAPA's 35 dance classes will perform in the Jazz, Tap & Hip-Hop Revue at 3 p.m. Saturday; the ballerinas take the stage in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at 3 p.m. Sunday; and MAPA's "cream of the crop" high-level dancers perform in "Moves" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
* Tickets for the matinees are $12; tickets for "Moves" are $15 for adults, and $12 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.
A brand new show is all the buzz on the west side: "Cirque Polynesia" opens Tuesday, June 2, at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa in Ka'anapali. Producer Cornell "Tuffy" Nicholas describes the modern-day Cirque-style show as "an abstract, contemporary interpretation of the Cirque and Polynesian worlds coming together." The production features artists from Hawaii and around the world, and includes a contortionist and illusionists, high-wire acts, balancing acts and aerial acrobatics, all set to live original music. "Cirque Polynesia" runs six nights a week (usually closed Tuesdays) at 7 p.m., with two special Saturday matinee performances at 2 p.m. on June 6 and * Tickets start at $62 for adults, with special rates for kama'aina and keiki under 12. Dinner packages at 'Umalu are also available, starting at $116. For reservations and information, visit www.cirquepolynesia.com or call 667-4540.
To meet increased demand, MAPA has added new beginning, intermediate and advanced-level classes in ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop and musical theater. Registration is now open for all dance classes. MAPA's popular Sum'R Musical Theatre Camp is combining two age groups this year into one big camp that will culminate in a production of Disney's "Mulan, Jr." from July 9 through 19. Although the camp is full, a waiting list is available for students entering grades 3 through 12. For registration or information, visit www.mauiacademy.org or call 244-8760.