Spring has sprung and something's stirring under Maui's tropical moonlit skies. It's a bit of a secret. There's belly dancing, garter belts, body paint and some good-natured, tongue-in-chick debauchery involved. It's amorphous and mobile and it's likely to awaken the fun, spontaneous little sprite in you.
Last Saturday night, a cavernous corner in Haiku's Pauwela Cannery transformed into "La Lumiere Rouge," an over-the-top, crimson-coated carnival. The brainchild of Maui's Kit Kat Cabaret (aka Ellen Peterson, Karen Stavash and Lynnea Barry), "La Lumiere Rouge" was a bumping, grinding, grinning homage to underground Berlin clubs, spontaneous gypsy caravan bacchanals, and Left Bank soirees. Costumed partiers grooved to urban house beats provided by DJ SID and DJ Nadi, while pantaloon-festooned stilt walkers snaked through the crowd. Emcee Chino La Forge got the show started with a bit of naughty comedy, Maui belly dancer Karli B. undulated onto the stage, decked out in an ultra-glam, old-Hollywood costume, then out came the Kit Kat Girls themselves, performing a raucous version of "Le Jazz Hot" from "Victor/Victoria," complete with some carefully-choreographed shadow dancing.
The crowd was even more mesmerized when Sabrina Fox, California's tribal fusion sensation, began her exotic invocation. Fox mixes assorted belly dancing traditions and techniques with contemporary urban moves to create her own celebration of feminine power. At one point, Fox whirled ecstatically holding two flaming fans. C'est tres hot.
TOM TALBOT photo
Visitors to “La Lumiere Rouge” at Pauwela Cannery Saturday were greeted by stilt walkers in an evening of sensual entertainment.
TOM TALBOT photo
Belly dancing by Sabrina Fox.
A cast of over 100 is presenting “His Hands: The Musical,” a Broadway-style presentation of the Easter story Friday through Sunday at King’s Cathedral/First Assembly in Kahului.
Maui Academy of Performing Arts / DAVID JOHNSTON photo
Francis Tau‘a is the ugly duckling who becomes a beautiful swan in MAPA’s production of “The Ugly Duckling.”
On a raised dias next to the stage, an artist covered in green paint worked on a self-portrait. Guests were invited to add more paint to her body as she worked. A screen hovered over the dance floor projecting vintage film stills, along with artistic images of the evening's featured performers. The whole scene was retro-chic and postmodern all at once.
The Kit Kat Cabaret plans to conjure up more elaborate evenings in the coming months, adding new performers and artists who they feel best reflect the mood and theme of each event.
"We're trying to capture a feeling of European street performance, cabaret-style variety show, traveling circuses and old-fashioned burlesque," Kit Kat Cabaret's Ellen Peterson explained. "It's like alchemy, like having your own dream fantasy and sharing it."
Don't think these underground soirees are only for the very young and tragically hip. The crowd at Lumiere Rouge comprised fun, adventurous adults of all ages. Some danced, some hung back and took it all in, some reclined and chatted on exotic vintage "opium beds." It's all about getting decked out in something a little wild, leaving your everyday self behind for a few hours and being transported to the glamorous, flamboyant, spectacular world of the imagination.
* For more information about Kit Kat Club Cabaret and upcoming events, log on to www.myspace.com/ kitkat clubcabaret
King's Cathedral presents "His Hands: The Musical" a Broadway-style theatrical presentation of the Easter story featuring an all Maui cast of over 100 performers. The production begins with the agony and suffering of the crucifixion and flashes back through Jesus' early childhood, his times with his disciples and ministry, to the resurrection and ascension.
* Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday at King's Cathedral/First Assembly, Kahului. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children 3-11. 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.
On Saturday, Maui Academy of Performing Arts presents two public performances of its spring educational theater tours - "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Dreaded Kneejerk" at Steppingstone Playhouse in Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. "The Ugly Duckling" is a contemporary version of the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale geared for students ages 2-8. The show uses audience participation, colorful costumes and delightful masks to share an important message about personal transformation and tolerance. "The Dreaded Kneejerk," a musical for students ages 8-12, follows the story of a 6th-grade boy whose obsession with pirates teaches him a practical lesson about controlling impulsive behavior.
* Showtimes Saturday are 11 a.m. for "The Ugly Duckling" and 1 p.m. for "The Dreaded Kneejerk." Tickets are $4 per person and will be available at the door of Steppingstone Playhouse 30 minutes before each performance.
Kamehameha Schools Maui presents "Damien," the story of Saint Damien of Kalaupapa, starring Vinnie Linares. One night only - at 7:30 pm. Saturday, April 10.
* The performance is free and open to the public. Call 573-7000 for more information.