Maui Onstage's production of "Cats" was a spectacular showcase of some of Maui's finest talent. Director and choreographer Alexander Cardinalli brought out the best in every member of his 27-cat cast, from the fabulous singing and dancing in the big production numbers to the way the cats sat, stretched and held their paws on the sidelines. The choreography was a visually exciting blend of ballet, tap, acrobatics and catlike physicality, performed with energetic precision. The strong soloists and powerful chorus did justice to Andrew Lloyd Webber's intricate score.
The show needed no dialogue because the cats told the whole story through song, dance and poignant gestures that blurred the line between feline and human. Although first and foremost a visual spectacle, "Cats" is also a touching parable about acceptance, forgiveness and family.
Kepa Aricayos was magnificent as Old Deuteronomy, the tribe's beloved leader. His rich, deep voice sent chills down my spine during the show's final number, "The Ad-dressing of Cats."
The cast of “Cats” on the prowl recently at Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center.
Maui Freelance Photography photo
Katerina B. Dominguez showed off amazing flexibility, dancing talent and playful energy as the "white kitten," Victoria. Her skill and confidence anchored many of the show's dance numbers.
Lina Aiko Krueger was Grizabella, the "glamor cat" who betrayed the tribe but returned home years later, weather-beaten and wiser, to ask for forgiveness. She taught the cats that love is the only source of true happiness in a powerful performance of the show's best-known song, "Memory."
As usual, Dale Button delighted the audience with his brilliant acting and lovely, expressive voice. He played Bustopher Jones, the "cat about town," and Asparagus, the "theater cat," who recalls his younger days when he starred in "Growltiger's Last Stand." He and and his mate, Jellylorum (Lisa Paulson), sang a half-gorgeous, half-hilarious Italian aria in one of the show's many plays-within-a-play. Paulson was a standout singer with her beautiful, powerful soprano voice.
Kathryn Jones and Felicia Chernicki also showed off wonderful singing voices as the quirky cats Demeter and Bombalurina.
Charles Cook threatened to bring down the house as the sexed-up, rock-'n'-roll kitten-magnet Rum Tum Tugger.
Justin House was a leaping, spinning sensation as Mr. Mistoffelees. His stunning ballet number brought the whole production up a notch.
Julie Kawamura was the eager, curious Sillabub, the tribe's newest member. Ashlie Welte showed off tapping talent and fun physical acting as the busy "old Gumbie cat," Jennyanddots, who taught a troop of whimsical cockroaches to tap dance.
Miles Kelsey and Ariella Brandon were a matched set as the twins Coricopat and Tantomile. Caleb Rhondes and Kelsey Greenway were the mischievous troublemakers Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer. Jason Wulf played the tribe's nemesis, the "mystery cat" McCavity. Jonathan Salcedo-Viola showed off a strong voice as the tribe's story-teller, Munkustrap. Max Reid played the "railway cat," Shimblechanks.
The other talented cats were Tazu Arian as Electra, Mark Patrick Bolden as Alonzo, Emily Eng as Cassandra, Hadley Garcia as Tumblebrutina, Sarah Loney as Carbuckety and Hannah Valle as Etcetera. Matthew Wilkins, Cheyanna Simmons and Eric Roberts strengthened the chorus numbers from the orchestra pit.
The huge production team included musical director Kirsten D. F. Otterson; stage manager and assistant director Shawndra Davis; assistant choreographer Sarah Loney; assistant stage manager Christina Kailiponi; wig and tail designer Marlu Kimball; makeup designer Rachel Deboer; set designer Caro Walker; costume designer Kathleen Schulz; sound designer Dawn Harper; production manager Steven Dascoulias; and lighting designer Brian Miller.
Maui OnStage's dazzling, ambitious production of "Cats" will have audiences coming back for more.
* "Cats" shows at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through March 27 at the Historic Iao Theater. Tickets are $40 for premium, $20 for standard and $18 for seniors and students. Call 242-6969 or visit mauionstage.com for tickets.
George Lopez at the MACC: As part of his "I Can Never Do Nuthin' " tour, George Lopez performs "Live! -Vivo!! in Hawai'i." Lopez is one of the highest-grossing comedians in the world and has recently brought his stand-up skills to late-night television as host of "Lopez Tonight." His groundbreaking sitcom, "George Lopez" remains a hit in syndication and his 2009 comedy special, "George Lopez: Tall, Dark and Chicano," was the highest-rated stand-up special on HBO in five years. In 2010, he starred in three feature films. Time magazine named George Lopez one of the 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America, and the Harris Poll named him as one of the Top 10 Favorite Television Personalities.
* George Lopez performs at 8 p.m. Friday at Castle Theater at the MACC. Tickets are $42.50 and $57.50, plus applicable fees, available at the MACC box office, 242-7469 or www.MauiArts.org.
"Driving Miss Daisy": ProArts presents the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic "Driving Miss Daisy" by Alfred Uhry, the timeless, searing, funny, and ultimately hopeful, meditation on race relations in America, told through the complex relationship between two of popular culture's most enduring characters. When Daisy Werthan, a widowed, 72-year-old Jewish woman living in 1950s Atlanta, is deemed too old to drive, her son hires Hoke Coleburn, an African-American man, to serve as her chauffeur. What begins as a troubled and hostile pairing, soon blossoms into a profound, life-altering friendship that transcends all the societal boundaries placed between them. From its landmark Off-Broadway production in 1987 to the remarkable success of the Oscar-winning film version (four Academy Awards, including best picture), "Driving Miss Daisy" has become one of the most beloved American stories of the late 20th century.
* "Driving Miss Daisy" shows at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, March 25 through April 10, at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. There will be no performance March 27. Thursday nights are kamaaina nights with reduced rates for Hawaii residents. Reserved seat tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students 18 and under and Kama'aina at Thursday performances.
Aszure Barton & Artists: Brazen, fearless, tough and sexy, Aszure Barton is an exciting new voice in contemporary dance. She has been commissioned to choreograph new works for Mikhail Baryshnikov, Fang-Yi Sheu, Sydney Dance Company, the Juilliard School, Les Ballets Jazz de Montral, Martha Graham Dance Company, American Ballet Theatre II and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, among others. From her eclectic musical choices (ranging from French Canadian folk to Vivaldi) to the casual and conversational tone of her original, funky dance vocabulary, Barton's movement is like nothing else you've ever seen.
* Aszure Barton & Artists perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 31, at Castle Theater at the MACC. Tickets are $12, $25 and $32, plus applicable fees, available as above.
Kathy Griffin at the MACC: Kathy is a two-time Emmy Award winner (for "My Life on the D-List" reality show), Grammy Award nominee (for Best Comedy Albums "For Your Consideration" and "Kathy Griffin Does the Bible Belt") and a New York Times bestselling author (for "Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin"). She's coming to Hawai'i and no one in Hollywood is safe. Celebrity blunders and Tinseltown gossip are fuel for the hilarious sketches that have kept audiences laughing for years. A portion of the proceeds from Kathy's show will benefit Women Helping Women Maui. Special packages for the 14th annual Women Helping Women's Elegant Afternoon Tea "Eat Pray Love Laugh" in Yokouchi Pavilion with tickets to see Kathy Griffin are available. Kathy Griffin performs 7:30 p.m. Sunday April 10 at the Castle Theater.
* Tickets are $36, $46 and $56, plus applicable fees, available as above.