This weekend I was reminded how lucky we are to live on a tiny island in the middle of the vast Pacific that holds such a rich, dense spectrum of opportunities to be entertained and enriched. On Friday night, Maui Academy of Performing Arts' production, "The Secret Life of Girls," moved me to tears. Then, at the Maui Theatre Sunday night, comedian Paul Rodriguez made me laugh so hard I cried. I may have messed up my make-up, but it was all worth it. That's what the arts are for - eliciting emotion, release and, often, serious reflection.
In one of the most poignant moments of "The Secret Life of Girls," MAPA's production at the Steppingstone Playhouse, Abby, the play's central character, makes a "late New Year's resolution" to find herself again. One-by-one, the other young women follow suit: "I resolve to not gossip or spread rumors." "I resolve to be kind to others." "I resolve to be kind to myself." Each time one of the adolescent characters announces her personal resolution, a childhood photo flashes on the screen behind her. And there it is. Her delicate, unabashed soul - unsullied. What happens to that little girl when she passes through the threshold of adolescence? How can we adults help ensure that she emerges on the other end, intact and ready for the challenges and adventures of adulthood?
"The Secret Life of Girls" offers a snapshot of girl bullying so real we feel as if the characters could be any one of our daughters, sisters, nieces, friends - even ourselves. The dialogue and physical interplay are spot-on for the target audience and the play never wavers from its purpose: to show exactly what girl bullying looks and feels like and warn of its damaging effects. It's a physical as well as a multimedia spectacle. The girls are all on a volleyball team and they actually serve, set and spike right there onstage. The visual backdrop - which displays texts, photos, e-mails and instant messages - glosses the action, and the soundtrack had some opening-night audience members boogying in their seats. The emotion builds, little-by-little, as the devastating effects of careless gossip, exclusion and teasing are revealed. We are affected as we see the formerly carefree, upbeat Abby descend into depression and the bully, Stephanie, cry out for help. By the play's end we vow to assess our own behavior and help stop the cycle.
David Hessemer photo
Anna Marie (Ruby Riker) and Kayla (Madison Spurgin) share a tense moment at school in MAPA’s production of “The Secret Life of Girls” at Steppingstone Playhouse.
Photo courtesy of Maui Celebrity Series
Comic Paul Rodriguez had the crowd howling at the Celebrity Series at Lahaina’s Maui Theatre on Sunday.
* "The Secret Life of Girls" is presented by the Maui Academy of Performing Arts at the Steppingstone Playhouse in Queen Ka'ahumanu Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for seniors and students, available through the MAPA box office, 244-8760, ext. 228 and at the customer service kiosk in Ka'ahumanu's center court.
Paul Rodriguez is a physical comic. Last Sunday night he worked the Lahaina Theatre stage, morphing into a throng of characters: Mom and Pop Rodriguez, Queen Isabella, Columbus and his sex-starved crew, an out-of-work gringo accountant sneaking across the border into Mexico, a terrified Briton warning his son away from the edge of the earth, an amorous Japanese couple.
After opening acts by singer/producer Brian Evans and Maui comedians King Martin and Curtis "Chino" LaForge, Rodriguez was edgy and self-deprecating, lamenting his slide into the backside of 50 and the fallout from his two divorces ("I should just cut to the chase, find a beautiful woman I hate and give her a house.") The audience responded raucously. A persistent but good-natured heckler inspired Rodriguez to open up a can of improvisational whoop-ass. His coup-de-gras ("Thanks, but I think I got it from here") elicited lengthy, spirited applause.
It's always amazing to witness a seasoned comic (Rodriguez has been named one of the top 100 comics of all time) bring up the energy in the house and keep it there for 90 minutes. At one point he encouraged the audience to take a moment, turn to the person next to them and just say, "hi." We did it. And we all walked out talking to strangers - as if they were old friends - about what a great show it was.
* Next, the Maui Celebrity Series at Lahaina's Maui Theatre welcomes comic David Spade, who performs with Evans at 9 p.m. April 30. For information call 856-7973 or log onto www.groovetickets.com.
* The 18th annual Celebration of the Arts at The Ritz Carlton, Kapalua. This Maui tradition highlights native Hawaiian culture and the arts. Interactive activities for children and adults include: pohaku (lava stone) carving, jewelry making and pa'u drum carving. Don't miss the music, dance, luau, informative presentations - and even an Easter egg hunt for the keiki. For more information on this incomparable event, April 2 and 3, call the Celebration hotline: 665-7296. (Related story This Week at a Glance)
* "His Hands: The Musical." This theatrical presentation of the traditional Easter story returns to King's Cathedral/First Assembly in Kahului, at 7 p.m. April 2, 3 and 4. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 3 to 11. Seating is limited. Doors open to the general public at 6 p.m. Tickets are available at the King's Cathedral office or at the iBooth before and after services. For more information call 871-7311.
* Alexander Academy of Performing Arts presents a dazzling dance production of "The Wizard of Oz" at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 11 at the Maui Theatre in Lahaina. For tickets and information call 661-9913.
* Casting call for the new feature film "Just Go With it" starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, shooting on Maui April 19 to May 19, approximately. Casting call is this Saturday at Kihei Charter School, 41 E. Lipoa, Unit 29 (formerly Hapa's restaurant). The Columbia Pictures production is looking for hundreds of background actors of various ages to play tourist types, bikini girls and resort staff-as well as children ages 6-17. Adults: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Adults with minors: 2 to 5 p.m.
* Beauvais Ballet, a nonprofit dance company on Maui, is looking for new members for its board of directors. The organization seeks to form a board that is energized, passionate and driven by a vision to create a better community through the arts. For more information, call 572-3094 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.