The Neighborhood Place of Wailuku's humorous, courageous musical production "Family Laundry" brings to light an issue which affects many island families: alcoholism and underage drinking. The story revolves around a local family and, through exploring each family member's struggles and triumphs, joys and sorrows, demonstrates how important it is not to sweep the issue aside like so much dirty laundry. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes every person in an islandwide ohana to address problems and help to heal them.
"Everyone who comes to see this play walks out saying, 'I was that child,' 'I was that father,' 'I was the mother, the enabler,' " said the play's producer, Venus Rosete-Hill, executive director of the Neighborhood Place.
"Every single person can relate in some way to one or more of the characters."
The Neighborhood Place of Wailuku’s “Family Laundry” cast features Venus Rosete-Hill (from left), Justin Medeiros, Cyndi Mayo-Davis, Iokepa Aricayos, David Bergau, Greg DelaCruz and Derek Nakagawa.
Written by local playwright Tremaine Tamayose with the help of staff members from Kamehameha Schools and the Drug Free Schools program, the play was originally produced in 1993 by Kamehameha Schools and performed for over 10,000 audience members statewide. The playwright died in 1998, but the Neighborhood Place of Wailuku felt the content and spirit of the play would fit their mission of strengthening local families; they adapted it a bit and launched a full-scale revival, taking the production on the road to theaters and schools throughout Maui County.
"This is an especially effective way to draw people in who wouldn't normally pick up a brochure," Rosete-Hill said. "It's not preachy or judgmental, but it shows how we all need to take responsibility."
As "Family Laundry" unfolds, the audience is able to see - vividly, viscerally - how an older family member's attitude toward alcohol is passed down to younger family members, how a community's attitude toward social drinking can result in a communitywide drinking problem - and, ultimately, alcohol-related accidents and deaths.
"A lot of people don't realize that an older person's attitude can affect the younger person's decision to take that first drink. That's one of our play's most powerful messages."
But don't think for a minute that this is one of those dark, depressing "message" plays. "Family Laundry" is fast-paced, irreverent and very, very true to life.
"The whole play is written in pidgin. It's so so humorous and lively ... and it's a musical. Then it hits you and the message really hits home at the end," Rosete-Hill explained.
"Family Laundry" is directed by local performer Cindy Mayo-Davis, who was cast as Lehua in the 1993 production. She reprises her role during the current run, alongside fellow Maui theater luminaries Rosete-Hill, Justin Medeiros, Iokepa Aricayos, David Bergau, Greg De la Cruz and Derek Nakagawa. The project is supported by a grant from the County of Maui Department of Housing and Human Concerns, a State Initiative Grant and the State of Hawaii's Administration on Drugs and Alcohol Division.
n Catch free performances of "Family Laundry" at 7 p.m. Friday at Kamehameha Schools Maui in Pukalani ; 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3, at Lanai High School; 7 p.m. Friday, Sept.10, at Mitchell Pau'ole Community Center on Molokai; and 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, at Maui Theatre in Lahaina . For more information, call The Neighborhood Place of Wailuku, 986-0800.
All singers on Maui are invited to audition to join the Maui Concert Chorus' eighth season, "Sing On, Sing On!" Auditions are private, not complicated, and give the conductor the chance to learn about your voice. Phone 870-5560 or email MauiChoralArts@hawaii.rr.com for information about the auditions and to sign up for one.
They will be auditioning altos and sopranos until Sept. 9, and basses and tenors until Sept. 21. The first rehearsal for Maui Concert Chorus is 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, in Wailuku. The chorus meets every Tuesday thereafter until the final holiday concert. More information is available at MCAA's website, www.MauiMusicArts.org.
Brown Bags to Stardom is now registering elementary schools, middle schools and high schools for the Back to School Talent Contest. It's free to audition to represent your school. Winners representing their schools have a $25 registration fee per student. For more information on Brown Bags to Stardom, visit www.brownbagstostardom.com or call 951-6699.