ProArts' production of "The Emperor's New Clothes" is a delightful musical comedy with a universal message. Jonathan Lehman and Doug Kendrick took Hans Christian Anderson's classic children's story and added a modern twist, a generous dose of humor and several memorable songs adapted from Broadway classics.
As I entered the cozy theater, tucked between a coffee shop and a Taco Bell at Azeka Shopping Center, I felt like I was walking into the pages of a storybook. Velvet-clad royalty and courtiers mingled with the audience, greeting each royal guest. A whimsical hand-painted set depicted green fields sloping toward the high palace walls.
As soon as the lights went up, the fast-paced dialogue, upbeat musical numbers, bold costumes and slapstick humor captivated kids and adults alike, while the frequent pop-culture references, political gibes and wordplay kept the savviest grownups on their toes. The gags came so fast that if you did not pay close attention, you were bound to miss a punch line.
“Clothes Make the Man,” sing Emperor Dale Button, Princess Marigold (Yumi Numata) and Prime Minister Roland K. Harper in this rollicking musical comedy.
The acting and singing are first-rate across the board. Dale Button plays the vain Emperor of Boondoggle, whose obsession with finery threatens to ruin the kingdom. His cocky strut and haughty expressions make him the image of the self-absorbed fool. Yumi Numata plays the emperor's daughter, the spoiled Princess Marigold, whose high nasal voice isso obnoxious that it's funny. Her air-headed vanity rivals even her father's.
Rowan (Tom Althouse) and Martin (Cameron Sparks) are escaped convicts who concoct a plot to make a fortune at the emperor's expense. Althouse is a master of slapstick humor, with amazing energy and timing. Sparks is endearing as the dim-witted but sympathetic sidekick.
Kristi Scott is Lady Jane Hathaway, the scheming adviser to the emperor. This powerful soprano has a strong presence on stage and showed off impressive improvisational skills when she interacted with the kids before the show. Roland K. Harper plays the earnest Prime Minister Munster, determined to save the kingdom from famine, flood and foreign invasion.
"The Emperor's New Clothes" plays this weekend and next at 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 4 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; and 1 and 4 p.m. Sundays at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. Tickets are $15 for reserved seats, and $10 for floor seating. Call 463-6520 for reservations.
Kathleen Schulz designed outrageous costumes, fit for a play about the absurdities of fashion. With prison stripes, Scottish plaid and plumes of scarlet feathers, the clothes were colorful, elaborate and almost as ridiculous as the characters themselves.
The production team consists of director and producer Doug Kendrick, producer Jonathan Lehman, musical director and accompanist Marti Kluth, scene designer Caro Walker, lighting designer Bonnie Prucha, follow spot operator Isaac Rauch, box office manager and light board operator Jett Batoon and Kid Kontrol Manager Katerina Camit.
Take a break from The Umizoomis and Hannah Montana and treat yourself and your kids to this hilarious musical adventure.
* Contact Mirabel Bradley at firstname.lastname@example.org.