What is a friend? Is it someone who goes along with anything we say or do, no matter how misguided? Someone who flatters us and inflates our egos? Someone from whom we can gain something like status or opportunities? Or is it someone who isn't afraid to tell us the truth, even when we may not want to hear it? Someone who sees through the veneer, challenges our egocentric notions and brings out the best in us? Maui Academy of Performing Arts' "The Magic of Friendship" broaches and attempts to answer these questions - which many adults might benefit from exploring- with humor, music, a 6-foot-2-inch bunny and a few gasp-inducing feats of prestidigitation.
The story, written by - and starring - Derek Nakagawa, involves a young sorcerer named Ferdinand B. Guudinkind, who is destined for obscurity at the Very, Very Bad & Naughty Sorcerer's School if he doesn't pull a few evil incantations out of his hat, tout de suite. Problem is: Ferdinand is a very bad Naughty Sorcerer and a very talented Good Sorcerer. That's where Spike comes in. Ferdinand's cotton-tailed BFF and erstwhile throw pillow - his foiled attempt to conjure up something more frightening - shows up to serve as his, ahem, guinea pig.
Ferdinand tries his best to turn his friend into something scary, but Spike (hilariously played by Francis Tau'a) ends up funnier and floppier with every encantation. I stopped by Lihikai Elementary to get a glimpse of students' reaction to the madcap morality play. They rolled on the ground (quite literally, as they were seated cross-legged in front of the stage) when Tau'a donned a grass skirt and shook his fluffy pink tail. Spike finally breaks the news to Ferdinand: He needs to stop trying to be something he's not and accept himself for the good and kind sorcerer he actually is. Like telling you when you have spinach in your teeth or when those linen pants make your butt look a mile wide it's what a true friend would do.
David Hessemer photo
Wanna-be sorcerer Ferdinand B. Guudinkind (Derek Nakagawa) casts a spell to the amazement of his friend Spike (Francis Tau’a) in MAPA’s tour show, “The Magic of Friendship.”
Gerry Mooney photo
Beth King and Veronica Pietsch relax in the shade with their wine and gourmet food at last year’s MAPA Garden Party.
"The Magic of Friendship" is MAPA's 31st traveling production for Hawaii's elementary school-age keiki and, it seems, one of its most successful. MAPA provides complementary interdisciplinary lesson plans for for grades K-5 (all of which are linked to the state benchmarks), to help teachers bring the production's lessons into the classroom and make the theatrical experience even more meaningful.
"The show has something for everyone," director Mark Collmer said. "There are jokes for the adults and the kids. We want the message to come through, but we want everyone to be entertained."
"The Magic of Friendship" produced by the Maui Academy of Performing Arts, runs through December at schools throughout Maui County, Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii Island. To find out how to bring the production to your school site, call 242-8760.
Speaking of MAPA, the academy's 22nd annual Garden Party - a fundraiser to benefit its educational performing arts programs - returns from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday to the Yokouchi Family Estate in Wailuku. Sponsored this year by Whole Foods Market and emceed by Mana'o Radio's Kathy Collins, the afternoon will feature the island's top chefs and local artists, and offer fine wine, jazz, two auctions and, of course, Fresh Art-site-specific paintings and sculptures created before guests' very eyes as they meander through the picturesque grounds. Tickets are $60 in advance, $70 at the door, $600 for a reserved table for 10, available by phone at 244-8760, at the MAPA office on Church Street in Wailuku, Queen Ka'ahumanu Center's customer service kiosk, Latitudes in Kahului, The Nail Shop in Kihei and Sir Wilfred's on Front Street in Lahaina. This event is for adults 21 and over.
Professional Artists of the Pacific announces open auditions for the company's upcoming season of shows at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. The shows are "The Emperor's New Clothes," which opens in October; "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," which opens in November; and "The Fantasticks," which opens in December. Auditions are scheduled from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the ProArts Playhouse at Azeka Shopping Center (Makai), 1280 S. Kihei Road in Kihei. Singers, actors and dancers ages 14 and older should bring their current resume and head shot and prepare a two-minute vocal selection, preferably an uptempo tune from a Broadway show, along with sheet music for the provided accompanist. Readings will be available at audition time. A stipend is paid to all participants. For more information, visit www.proartspacific.com.
Alexander Academy of Performing Arts will hold auditions for its winter ballet production of "Mary Poppins" at its facility in Kula on Sunday, Sept. 26. Registration for all dancers - from beginners ages 6 and older to advanced dancers of all ages - begins at 11:30 a.m. Performances will be held at the Maui Theatre in Lahaina in mid-February. For information, call 878-8970.
Hollywood children's acting coach Chambers Stevens will be teaching two workshops on "How to Audition for Television" at Kihei Charter School, Ohukai campus on Oct. 2. Stevens is considered one of the top children's acting coaches in the United States. The first workshop, for children ages 7-12, will run from 9 a.m. to noon. The second, for ages 13-18, will run from 2 to 5 p.m.. The cost for each workshop is $75 per student. To reserve your spot, e-mail Theresa Marks at firstname.lastname@example.org. Spaces are limited.