There's excitement in the air. Maui Academy of Performing Arts' "South Pacific" opens Friday night in the dreamiest of settings - amidst rustling palms and wafting plumeria, under the stars, in the moonlight - at the Maui Tropical Plantation.
Director David Johnston assembled a theatrical dream team for his visionary production: Leighanna Locke is "cockeyed optimist" Navy nurse Nellie Forbush; Steven Dascoulias is the dashing, mysterious Emile de Beque; and Maui's favorite "Tita," Kathy Collins, is the enterprising Bloody Mary. He's taken one of the favorite, most familiar Rogers and Hammerstein blockbusters-about a group of Navy personnel stationed on a remote island during the most ferocious, tenuous months of World War II-and added a deeper and more subtle texture. Although "South Pacific" is best known for its musical score - it's brimming with canonical American showtunes like "Some Enchanted Evening," "Nothing Like a Dame," "Happy Talk" and "Bali Hai"- the story also explores themes of prejudice, cultural and national identity and war's most inevitable casualty: innocence. Above all, "South Pacific" reminds us how the strong current of love and loyalty has pulled us through the darkest times in history.
Collins, who was a contender for the role of Bloody Mary in the 2008 Broadway revival of "South Pacific," seems to have been born to play the feisty, sharp, mesmerizing island entrepreneur.
David Hessemer photo
Bloody Mary (Kathy Collins) lures Cable (Francis Tau‘a) to Bali Hai as Luther Billis (Greg Cotton) looks on in MAPA’s production of South Pacific, opening Friday at the Maui Tropical Plantation.
"The last couple of times I saw the show, I started to think how I would play Bloody Mary," Collins said.
"This is my first time working with MAPA, and it's just been marvelous," Collins continued, "I'm already having post-show depression! I'm really going to miss this character."
At rehearsal last week, it was apparent that Johnston had created more than a first-rate, Broadway-quality show right here on Maui; he ignited a spark of creativity and cohesiveness in his cast. When a cast feels close, included and appreciated, the feeling radiates in every scene, movement and note. "South Pacific" is one of these very rare productions.
"South Pacific" opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday and runs two consecutive weekends at Maui Tropical Plantation. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors (62+) and $18 for students. WWII veterans may attend free of charge. For tickets, information and special needs seating arrangements, call the MAPA box office at 244-8760.
On Friday, Maui Tropical Plantation's sprawling, manicured lawn will fill with with beach chairs, blankets, couples and families sipping beer and bubbly and nibbling surprisingly refined (also rugged!) fare provided by Bruddah Willie. Guests are encouraged to arrive a little early for music and a little "happy talk" before the main event. World renowned Na Hoku Hanohano award-winning slack key artist Pekelo Cosma will provide lilting island strains prior to a USO-style concert, featuring favorites from the 1940s and a swing-dance contest. By the time the show starts, the audience will be firmly planted in a romantic, bygone era. Gates open at 6:30, an hour before the show starts.
Bring a special someone, a blanket, a beach chair and enjoy the classiest, most certifiably enchanted evening of the summer.
Maui OnStage presents a very unique homage to the power of love, namely, its ability to grow even in the synthesized, overproduced soil that is 1980s pop. "The Wedding Singer," in which a mulleted Adam Sandler wooes reluctant bride-to-be Drew Barrymore with heartfelt, cheesy renditions of already awesomely cheesy tunes, became an instant cult classic when it debuted in 1998. Maui OnStage's funny, heartwarming stage version brings the lovable, quirky characters to life even more vibrantly. This show's bound to be more fun than Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and more exciting than "One Night in Bangkok" - so, if you're "Hungry Like the Wolf" for rad entertainment, put on your gladiator sandals and head to the Iao Theater.
* The show opens Friday night at Wailuku's Historic Iao Theater and runs weekends through Aug. 1. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. Tickets - available at the Iao Theater box office by calling 242-6969 or online at www.mauionstage.com - are $20 for general admission, $40 for preferred seating and $15 for bargain matinees. For a delicious date night, try the dinner packages with Cafe O'Lei (next door to the theater).
Theatre Theatre Maui presents "Follow that Rabbit," an updated version of Lewis Carroll's classic "Alice in Wonderland," in the Westin Maui Resort and Spa's Haleakala Ballroom July 16-18. Directed by Kristi Scott, the show marks the Lahaina Summer theater program's 18th year bringing high-quality theater education to the west side. The 42 cast members, ranging in ages 8 to 16, have devoted their summer days to dance, acting and voice lessons and look forward to wowing audience members from all over the island. For more information, call 661-1168 or e-mail TTMWestMaui@aol.com.