'Outside, it's winter, but inside it's soooo hot!" croons Emcee Tom Althouse with a wicked grin. Around him, female dancers with names like "Lulu" and "Rosie" strut the stage and thrust their hips suggestively. Behind them, the cabaret set is still under construction, but a few weeks into rehearsals, the mood is already established by the girls' scanty outfits, high heels and bad attitudes.
"Willkommen" to the Kit Kat Klub, a seedy nightclub in 1930s Berlin on the eve of the Nazi rise to power. "Cabaret," the latest production from Professional Artists of the Pacific LLC, opens next weekend at Steppingstone Playhouse at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center.
Dripping with sensuality and adult themes, the musical (with book by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb) was a big hit on Broadway in 1966, and was later made into a 1972 film starring Liza Minelli. A Broadway revival in 1998 with Alan Cumming and Natasha Richardson delved into a more sinister side than the original - and it's on this darker version (by Sam Mendes) that ProArts director Jonathan Lehman has based the upcoming show.
‘It’s the most amazing role I’ve ever got to sink my teeth into,’ says Tom Althouse of playing the Emcee in this classic.
"We like to do shows that are edgy and topical," Lehman says. "Lately, people have been throwing words around like 'fascist' and 'Nazi,' and they really don't even know what that means." This show should give them a pretty good idea - and it might be "chilling," Lehman says, although not quite as dark as Mendes' version.
The play follows two very different love stories: one between cabaret performer Sally Bowles (played by Lynnea Barry) and a young writer named Clifford Bradshaw (E. John Messersmith); and the other between boarding house owner Frulein Schneider (Rose Roselinsky) and Herr Schultz, a Jewish fruit vendor (Dale Button).
As the Emcee, Althouse plays a complex character whose wild moods reflect the action in the rest of the play. "It's the most amazing role I've ever gotten to sink my teeth into," Althouse says gleefully. "Jonathan has allowed me to have license on how I morph the character - he might be gay, he might be straight, you never know what he's going to do."
* "Cabaret," in association with Maui Academy of Performing Arts, opens Oct. 23 and runs through Nov. 15. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays (except no show Oct. 25), with one 2 p.m. Saturday matinee on Nov. 14. Tickets are $28 for reserved table seating (available only by phone), $25 for center section, and $22 for side section; available at the mall's Customer Service Desk or by calling 875-4367. For more information, visit www.proartspacific.com.
Having directed "Cabaret" twice before in proscenium theaters on the Mainland, Lehman says he and co-producer Doug Kendrick are thrilled to take a different approach by bringing the show into the more intimate Steppingstone Playhouse. "We love this space," Lehman says. "It's close up and personal, and we'll have front row table seating with waiter service (Martinelli's by the glass or bottle, and of course, Kit Kat bars). The cast plays a lot to the tables."
Just behind the minimal nightclub set designed by Caro Walker, a live six-piece orchestra directed by Marti Kluth will strike up songs like "Mein Herr," "Money" and "Maybe This Time."
Kalani Whitford has created original choreography for the dancers - who just happen to include four of the six members of Maui's own Kit Kat Club Cabaret. "We love going out to perform!" says dancer Ellen Peterson. (For a warm-up, catch the Kit Kat Club Cabaret at Casanova this Saturday night).
Kathleen Schulz will adorn the cast in period attire befitting their seamy environment. "It's the 1930s, so these are not glitzy showgirl type of costumes," she says. "This is one of those third-rate clubs, so you might see a run in a nylon!"
Outside under the bright Upcountry stars, it's "Romeo and Juliet" - Shakespeare's timeless tale of young love poisoned by an age-old grudge between families. Cooper House Courtyard at Seabury Hall forms a lovely backdrop for sumptuous costumes, Renaissance dancing and sword fighting, with an upper lanai that's perfect for the famous balcony scene. Seabury alum Cassandra Wormser directs Nick Wright and Deni Harrelson as the young lovers, along with a cast of 17 others. (See review on the next page.)
n Due to a rainout and full houses, the show's run has been extended for a third weekend. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Oct. 24 and 25; and 5 p.m. Sunday and Oct. 26. Tickets are $11 for adults, $9 for senior citizens, $5 for students. Seating is limited, and audience members are advised to dress warmly. For reservations and more information, call 573-1257.
October is a good month for storytelling-and the spookier, the better! Kathy Collins and Jeff Gere team up to present "Obake Stories" (ghost stories) at the Historic Iao Theater, 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Mana'o radio co-founder Collins is well-known on Maui for her talent with the chicken-skin stories, and Gere is an acclaimed weaver of tales and founder of the Talk Story Festival and Talk Story Radio on Oahu. After an evening with these two, you might be scared to walk out to your dark car! Tickets are $10; available online at www.mauionstage.com, or by calling 242-6969.
The 2009 Storytelling Festival at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center proves that stories don't have to be scary to be captivating. Kumu hula and MACC Cultural Programs Director Hokulani Holt hosts this free event, which brings the Hawaiian oral tradition into the spotlight with tales of Hi'iakaikapoliopele, adventurous younger sister of Pele. Four master Hawaiian storytellers will share their craft - Tom Cummings, Nalani Kanaka'ole, Kekuhi Keali'ikanaka'ole and Kalama Cabigon - at the MACC's Schaefer International Gallery from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday.
On Saturday evening, Halau Kekuaokala'au'ala'iliahi graces the stage to celebrate its fifth anniversary with Ke'ala'iliahi 2009. Under the leadership of na kumu hula 'Iliahi and Haunani Paredes, more than 150 dancers will honor kumu hula O'Brian Eselu, Keali'i Reichel, Uluwehi Guerrero, Aunty Pat Namaka Bacon and the late Thaddius Wilson. Holunape will provide the evening's music, with special appearances by Reichel, Eselu and others. Showtime is 7 p.m. Tickets are $20, $30 and $40. 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.
This year's second annual Princess Ka'iulani Festival brings exciting new events like hula ki'i by Calvin Hoe and the students of Hakipu'u Learning Center, and by Gordean Bailey and Halau Hula Wehiwehi O Leilehua. Performing with Bailey's halau will be Hawaiian cultural advocate and musician Manu Boyd, who will also give a talk about the islands' Hawaiian-Scottish princess. Princess Ka'iulani Fashions will present a fashion show called "The History of the Holoku'u," and other activities include Hawaiian games and activities, music, talk story, food, vendors and contests. The free festival takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Haleakala Waldorf School campus on Kula Highway. For more information, visit www.mauiceltic.com.
Maui OnStage continues its Rocktober theme with a rendition of Edgar Allan Poe's creepy tale of revenge, "The Cask of Amontillado." First published in 1846, the story is about a man named Montresor who follows a calculated plot to bury his friend Fortunato alive in a deep wine vault, as revenge for some perceived insult. This original, one-act musical adaptation stars Jerry Eiting, Steven Dascoulias and Casey Murphy. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 24 and 25. Tickets are $5.
In response to the furlough days in public schools, MAPA is offering three Furlough Fridays Drama Camps - two in Wailuku and one on the west side - for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Led by experienced MAPA teachers, the camps feature storytelling, drama games and character explorations. Times are 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 23, 30, Nov. 6, 20, Dec. 4, 11, 18, Jan. 15, 29, Feb. 5, 12, March 5, 12, April 23, 30, May 7 and 14. Tuition is $40 per day.
MAPA is also offering a new Mask & Movement drama class taught by Eva Sikes for kids ages 9 and up, exploring the ancient art of acting with masks. The class meets four Thursdays: Oct. 22 to Nov. 12 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at MAPA, 2027 Main St. in Wailuku. Tuition is $85 for the session.
To register or for more information, visit www.mauiacademy.org or contact Carolyn Wright at 244-8760, ext. 221.