It's Mismatch Day at Maui Academy of Performing Arts, and the rehearsal room is alive with a wild array of plaids, stripes, checks and polka dots in an astonishing range of gaudy colors.
Ancient China, it is not.
When Director Kathleen Schulz parades through the room in a fur-trimmed black period hat, she garners shrieks and laughter from the kids.
Mikeila Yamamoto as Mulan
But fast forward to July 9, and suddenly the mysterious garb won't seem so out of place. That's when Steppingstone Playhouse will be transformed into ancient China for opening night of MAPA's production of "Disney's Mulan Junior." Mismatched shorts and T-shirts will be replaced by striking costumes patterned with black, white and red, set against a yin-and-yang backdrop.
Almost 50 students from MAPA's Sum'R Musical Theatre Camp will recreate Disney's fantastic tale about the Huns invading China, with only one person who can save the Emperor
"Ai, yai, yai, yai, yai!" she cries, galloping across the rehearsal floor with ponytail flying.
"Disney's Mulan Junior" opens July 9 and runs two weekends at Steppingstone Playhouse at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for kids 12 and younger; available at the mall's Customer Service Kiosk, www.mauiacademy.org or 244-8760
"Mulan!" the ensemble exclaims.
MikeilaYamamoto plays the daring young girl who strives to bring honor to her family while following her own heart.
"I really, really wanted the part," says 13-year-old Yamamoto. "Mulan is a person I admire: she's brave and strong. She's also Asian, so this fits really well for me."
Yamamoto - whose ancestry is Japanese, Hawaiian, Filipino and Irish - says she didn't know too much about ancient China before she started rehearsals, but now she does! History is one of her favorite subjects at Kamehameha Schools Maui where she will be entering 8th grade in the fall.
" 'Mulan' is different from other Disney shows because it's not that romantic; she's more focused on honoring her family and doing the right thing," Yamamoto says.
Since taking her first dance class at MAPA when she was 8 years old, this is her first lead part. The role is a big one, with difficult singing and many lines to memorize.
There is also a lot of emotion involved, according to
MAPA drama teacher Eva Sikes. "The characters are challenging, and it's a pretty intense story," Sikes says. "It's got some sadness to it, as well as the comedy, so we're asking the kids to bring genuine emotion to it, and they're doing such a great job."
Sikes previously worked with Yamamoto in "Cinderella" and "Jungle Book" and describes her as a "really focused, fantastic performer."
The performing arts have really helped her daughter come out of her shell, says Yamamoto's mother, Leni Tanaka. "She's an only child, and here she has learned how to cooperate, to get along with others, to set boundaries, to go with the flow. In the arts, it's not so precise as just sitting down and taking a test. You have to express yourself differently."
With a demanding schedule of school, voice lessons and rehearsals, there are some nights when Yamamoto just comes home and drops into bed. But her daughter doesn't stress about it, Tanaka says. "She has learned how to be balanced. It's not like, 'Oh, I have to go to rehearsal now'; it's like, 'Now I get to go express myself in this way.' "
This year, MAPA combined the younger and older students into one camp, for a diverse range of ages, abilities and backgrounds. The kids play roles from ancestors to maidens to workers to soldiers.
At the end of the day's rehearsal, the young actors gather for hugs and positive encouragement from Schulz, Sikes, choreographer Barry Brinker Jones, and Musical Director Marti Kluth. The group circle wraps up with the exciting announcement: "Tomorrow is Pajama Day!" The news is met with cheers and giggles.
For now, ancient China will have to wait.
Things haven't been this racy at the Historic Iao Theater since "The Full Monty." If the Maui OnStage production of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" is anywhere near as good as "Monty," Maui is in for a treat. Director Kristi Scott takes on the musical made famous by the Dolly Parton/Burt Reynolds movie. Natalie Raynes stars as Mona, and Michael Pulliam is Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd, along with more than 50 other Maui actors, singers and dancers. The show opens Friday, July 10, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 2; at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for students and seniors, $15 for all Sunday matinees. Advance tickets are available at If the Shoe Fits in Wailuku and Lava Java in Kihei, www.mauionstage.com or 242-6969.
The talented Westside actors of Theatre Theatre Maui are deep in rehearsals for "Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Jr." The delightful musical runs for one weekend only, at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 17 and 18; and 5 p.m. Sunday, July 19. It's TTM's 17th summer program, featuring a four-week Westside theatre workshop and camp that culminates in the production at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youth 12 and younger, free for children 2 and younger; available at the door.
TILT Dance Company has changed its name and its persona to Beauvais Ballet (BB). Choreographer Renee Beauvais, who founded TILT 13 years ago, says the name change reflects how she has changed as an artist, with a new vision, new mission and new goals. BB will celebrate its fresh identity with a fundraiser at Flatbread Co. in Paia from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday. As part of Flatbread's nonprofit night, a portion of the sales of pizzas benefits BB, and diners can enjoy dance videos and bid on silent auction items. For more information, call 572-3094 or email email@example.com
The Arthur Miller classic "All My Sons" is this month's Bare Essential Theater, presented by Maui OnStage at the Historic Iao Theater. The award-winning play is based on the true story of a man who sold faulty aircraft parts to the government, endangering lives for the sake of passing his successful business on to his sons. As a critical look at "the American dream," the play earned Miller a trip to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s. The free reading takes place at 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 13. For more information, call 244-8680.
According to the legendary Sanford Meisner, acting is "living truthfully under imaginary circumstances." Andrea Giammattei will be teaching an intro to Meisner Acting Technique from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, as well as a two-part series of classes throughout the summer. The first session, beginning Wednesday, focuses on the Meisner Technique approach to emotional preparation; while the second session, beginning Aug. 19, focuses on scene study and monologue. The classes are for both beginning and experienced actors. For more information, call 280-0535.