Maui Academy of Performing Arts spreads Christmas magic to the west side this weekend with its playfully titled "Nutcracker Sweets." Guest artist Derek Sakakura joins MAPA's top ballerinas and more than100 Maui dancers to bring Clara's enchanted Christmas Eve adventure to life.
MAPA's most talented and dedicated ballerinas will take on the principal female roles. These students spent the summer studying with companies such as American Ballet Theater, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Bolshoi, Houston Ballet Academy and Kirov Academy, in some of the most competitive and intensive ballet programs in the country.
Different dancers will perform the roles of Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy for each of the two performances.
Ella Direnfeld is Clara in MAPA’s holiday ballet
"It's more of a challenge for them, to be able to learn more roles," said director and costume designer Kathleen Schulz. "And since we're a performing arts academy we like to give them the opportunity to perform."
MAPA's dance teachers take pride in preparing their students for success in higher-level programs. "Our dancers are dancing all over, in different college programs. We're really proud of them. Our kids are able to go and compete!" said Schulz. She reflected on how far MAPA's dance program has come in the last several years. "We've gotten better as a team, we've gotten better as an academy, and I think we're inspiring a lot of kids."
Guest artist Derek Sakakura, who performs the roles of the Cavalier and the Snow King, has taught ballet for more than 15 years and performed as a principal dancer with many major dance companies, including Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, San Francisco Opera Ballet, Ballet Hawaii and Ballet Austin. He danced in the Broadway National Tour of "The King and I" and the Woodminster Theater's production of "West Side Story." Currently he performs the role of Taro in " 'Ulalena."
In addition to dazzling performances and beautiful music, "Nutcracker Sweets" promises plenty of eye candy.
"I wanted the costumes to be spectacular," said Schulz. "I embarked upon this major project doing all these elaborate party dresses with Victorian lace. They're really fun, and they turned out really nice."
Barry Brinker Jones, Kathleen McKeon, Virginia Holte and Derek Sakakura teamed up to set choreography to Tchaikovsky's timeless score.
Showcasing well-established and up-and-coming talent, masterful choreography and exquisite costumes, MAPA's whimsical adaptation of the time-tested classic promises to delight audiences of all ages.
* "Nutcracker Sweets" shows one day only at 3 and 7 p.m. Sunday at Maui Theatre in Lahaina. Tickets are $20 for adults and $17 for kids 12 and younger. Call 244-8760 for tickets.
Seabury Hall's "Christmas Party and Performing Arts Concert": A perennial sell-out, Seabury's 20th annual party-concert is a festive celebration of the performing arts featuring a cast of more than 80 student and adult performers from Seabury's dance, drama, and music programs. Highlights include original ballet and modern dance pieces choreographed by David Ward, Andr Morissette and Vanessa Cerrito; song and dance numbers from Seabury Hall's recent musical, "The Drowsy Chaperone"; piano, vocal and trumpet performances; and free desserts.
* Performing this weekend only, the party at the school's campus in Olinda starts at 6:30 and the show begins at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $17. Reservations are required. Call 573-1257 for reservations and information.
"Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story": Kamehameha Schools Maui Drama Club presents an inspired adaptation of the holiday classic, re-imagined through highly theatrical storytelling. Actors whimsically transform from narrators into characters, and beloved carols are sung to alternately joyful and sinister effect, giving this familiar Christmas story a fresh and energetic feel. Directed by local actor William Makozak, the show features students of Kamehameha Schools Maui middle and high schools, including Shane Borge as Ebenezer Scrooge; Wesley Kiaha as Bob Cratchit; and Michelle Nakashima as Tiny Tim.
* "Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story" plays at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays this weekend and next at Kamehameha Schools Maui's Keopuolani Hale. Entry is free. Call 573-7285 for details.
Ka Hale A Ke Ola Christmas Shoppe: The theater and music students at Baldwin High School are teaming up to gather gifts for the first annual Christmas Shoppe at Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center. The students will help children at the center pick out a free present and wrap it to put under the tree for their parents or guardians. To donate, bring a new gift suitable for an adult or wrapping paper, ribbons and bows to the Baldwin High School office any day until Dec. 17 or to one of two gift collections: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday on Market Street in Wailuku; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Maui Mall next to Baskin Robbins. For information call 984-5656, ext. 315.
"The Fantasticks": Next up for ProArts is the longest-running musical in history, "The Fantasticks." This wonderful parable tells the story of a young man and the girl next door, their scheming parents, romance, disillusionment and the realities of love. Directed by Doug Kendrick, the show features some of Maui's most talented performers, including Robert Wills, Leighanna Locke and Tom Althouse. With book and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, "The Fantasticks" includes such great tunes as "Try to Remember," "Soon It's Gonna Rain," "I Can See It" and "They Were You."
* "The Fantasticks" opens Dec. 10, playing at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 19 and Jan. 7 through 16 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. There will be no performance on Dec. 12. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for kids 12 and under. Call 463-6520 for tickets.
"Mark Twain Tonight!" Emmy Award-winning television and movie actor Hal Holbrook, has been channeling Mark Twain for 56 years, and every performance of this one-man show is different. Twain spent several weeks on Maui in 1866 and actually climbed to Haleakala Crater. About the sunrise there, he said, "It was the sublimest spectacle I ever witnessed, and I think the memory of it will remain with me always." Join Holbrook as Samuel Clemens, America's greatest humorist, for an evening of stories, jokes and words of wisdom, in a benefit for the Rotary Club of Maui.
* "Mark Twain Tonight!" plays at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12, at Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Tickets are $30, $45, $60 and $150 for VIP including sit-down dinner and reception, plus applicable fees, available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or www.MauiArts.org..