What's wrong with these kids today? Spend a few hours in the Baldwin drama room with the cast of "Bye Bye Birdie" and you'll know the answer. Absolutely nothing.
Linda Carnevale's talented, uber-dedicated actors are upbeat, articulate and poised. They exude confidence because they know they have a winning production on their hands.
"Bye Bye Birdie" is one of the most beloved musicals of all time. The story - which centers around Elvis-esque heartthrob Conrad Birdie's last televised kiss before he leaves for the Army - masquerades as a lighthearted comedy, but there's more to it than that. The show explores the helpless frustration parents feel as their children dissolve into adolescence, the dehumanizing effects of the media and the struggle to overcome prejudice. All this - AND it's got a good beat and you can dance to it. "Birdie's" chock-full of classic toe-tappers like "Put on a Happy Face," "A Lot of Livin' " and "Kids."
KARRIE LASATER photo
Conrad Birdie (Dylan Bode) fans the flames with his young fans played by Kela Strickland (from left), Haylie Warren, Julianna Scharnhorst, Meg Lasater and Janolan Endrina (kneeling).
After the success of last year's "Fiddler on the Roof" and the fall production of "Sleeping Beauty," Carnevale wanted this year's musical to be set a little closer to this century.
"I wanted something the kids could really relate to," she said.
If you're wondering if teens in 2010 can really relate to characters created in - gasp!! - 1960, all you have to do is ask.
"Bye Bye Birdie" opens Friday and runs two weekends through March 14 at Baldwin High School Auditorium. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, March 13. Tickets are $12 for adults, $9 for seniors, $7 for ages 17 and younger; available at the box office 45 minutes before showtime. There will be a "Gala Night All American Dinner" fundraiser on Saturday at the Starlight Theatre Caf on campus. The gala includes pre-show entertainment, dinner and door prizes, starting at 5:30 p.m. Gala tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students, $8 for children (age 10 and younger); available by calling 984-5656, ext. 315.
"It's pretty realistic in this day and age," said Meg Lasater, who plays starstruck Kim Macafee. "They sneak out in the middle of the night; they get caught; they feel stupid and humiliated."
The biggest artistic stretch for Meg? "I had to learn how to be immature!"
She's also worried about one little thing: dancing on the roof the two-story house the cast created especially for "Birdie."
"I'm a little klutzy," Meg confessed.
The Hawaiian concept of "laulima" lies at the heart of Baldwin's top-notch theater program. The show's 42 cast members feel a deep sense of ownership and pride. Every single student is expected to participate in all aspects of a production - from sets to props to performance.
Backstage manager Kendra Carter, a senior this year, pulls it all together. She's been involved in every production since she set foot on the Baldwin campus.
"It's my life, my love, my everything!" she gushed.
When the whole ensemble bursts onstage during the rehearsal of showstopper "I've Got a Lot of Livin,' " Kendra's words come to life - these kids are giving it their all. Their joy, commitment and energy fills the stage and emanates outward. Come opening night, they'll make the older folk in the audience feel young again and remind the young folk that having a lot of living still to do is not such a bad thing after all.
Senior Chris Komatsu and junior Serena Perry play the conflicted, explosive Albert Peterson, Conrad Birdie's agent, and Rose Alvarez, his long-suffering assistant and erstwhile fiancee. It's a complex relationship for two young people to bring to life convincingly.
"We know it's important to have chemistry," Komatsu explained, "but it's an awkward chemistry because he's in love with her, but can't really show it."
Dylan Bode landed the role of Conrad Birdie right after playing "Sleeping Beauty's" Prince Charming. He thought it was going to be a snap.
"I thought, 'heartthrob, rock star'; I didn't know much about the role and how much Conrad changes in the play."
Dylan, who is a junior, was a reluctant thespian - Kendra Carter had to pull him off the football field and into the drama room last year - but his Birdie swaggers and croons without a bit of self-consciousness.
"Bye Bye Birdie" captures that fleeting moment - when America was as hopeful, naive and seemingly invinsible as its charming teenage characters, and the rollicking 1950s were bleeding into the tumultuous '60s. It's exactly what we need right now: a bit of singing, dancing evidence that, however much the world has changed, we're all pretty much the same. And kids are just like we were - perfect in every way.
Maui OnStage brings Harper Lee's classic "To Kill a Mockingbird" to life at the Historic Iao Theater at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through March 21. Lee's 1960 semi-autobiographical novel stirred up controversy for its unflinching portrayal of racial inequality in the small Southern town of Maycomb. Alexis Dascoulias directs Marley and Zeb Mehring in the roles of Scout and Jem Finch. Don Carlson stars as their father Atticus.
* Tickets, $16 and $18, are available at If the Shoe Fits in Wailuku, Lava Java in Kihei or online at www.mauionstage.com.
Maui Arts and Cultural Center offers "Ko'olau: A True Story of Kaua'i" in Castle Theater at 5 p.m. Sunday. This legendary tale of survival and heroism is told using beautiful handmade puppets, live shadow play, video, voiceover and live musical accompaniment.
* Tickets are $22 plus applicable fees, available at the MACC box office, by phone at 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org
The Maui Choral Arts Association presents its fifth annual Lei of Stars Maui Choral Festival at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 13, at Kihei Baptist Chapel, 1655 S. Kihei Road. The Olinda Chorale and UH Maui College Chorus join in concert with MCAA's own Maui Concert Chorus. The 40- member concert chorus will perform popular selections from its fall concerts as well as two selections from the upcoming Some Enchanted Evening concert.
An open rehearsal for the concert will be held from 3:45 to 4:45 that afternoon at the same location. Participants are invited to perform with the host and guest choruses during the concert. The registration fee for this special open rehearsal is $25, which includes a post-rehearsal fellowship meal.
Music will be mailed to all rehearsal registrants. To register or for more information go to www.MauiMusicArts.org, e-mail email@example.com or call 870-5560. Registration deadline is Wednesday.
* Concert Tickets: $10 in advance until March12 or $15 at the door. Call 870-5560 or log onto: www.MauiMusicArts.org for more information.