Maui Academy of Performing Arts brings "Theophilus North" to Steppingstone Playhouse this weekend. A little known cousin of Thornton Wilder's classic "Our Town," it follows the story of a young man who sets off in search of fun and adventure, only to find himself stranded in Newport, R.I. There, he inadvertently changes the lives of everyone he meets, and ends up a changed man himself.
The story is about an adventure, but not one that happens in a far away, exotic place.
"He doesn't have to go somewhere else, like Rome or Paris or New York," said director David Johnston. "The adventure is right here. As he encounters new people, he thinks he's helping them, but at the same time, they're helping him discover who he is and what he's about."
Steve Hatcher (left) and Leighanna Locke co-star with Eric Peterson in the title role of this MAPA production.
David Hessemer photo
The play has free-flowing, dream-like quality, with set and characters constantly in flux, dissolving and reassembling before the audience's eyes. The scenery is made up of old, assorted objects, like chairs, frames, tools, cans and cabinets, which take on new identities as the actors shift and recombine them. A broken picture frame becomes a pool table. A tower of drawers and rakes becomes a tree.
Johnston explained, "One of the things we're trying to capture is that Theophilus is leaving behind the structured world, and as he goes out, his whole perspective opens up and changes. At the end of the show, all the set pieces that have been used become part of the trees and the world. He becomes aware that he is part of everything, the entire world and all the constellations."
The actors, like the set, assume multiple identities throughout the show. "Everyone's a piece of somebody else," said Johnston. "Some of them play 14-year-olds and 30-year-olds. Some of them play upper class and serving class. And then they're all set changers on top of everything else. So it's a constant shift."
The flow of the play mimics the story's main theme, that imagination allows people to experience new worlds even when they stay in one place.
"We can get hemmed in by the culture we're in and the society that we travel in," said Johnston. "When we attach too much importance to material things, we shut down the possibilities of the imagination. The purpose of education and of life in general is to open up the imagination and to realize the possibilities that are out there."
To Johnston, opening the imagination is also the purpose of theater.
"It allows us to understand other people, to walk in other people's shoes," he said. "It has the ability to unite us through this great opening of the imagination, to see how other people live and feel and work and love, and to understand that we're all after the same stuff ultimately. We want connections, we want to be part of something, we want to communicate, and most all, we want to love and be loved. It's all so simple ultimately, to get to the truth of what it's about to live, but it's also complicated, at the same time. I hope that people walk away from this with the sense that they feel closer to their fellow people."
"Theophilus North" plays 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, through April 17 at Steppingstone Playhouse. Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for seniors. Call 244-8760 or visit mauiacademy.org for reservations.
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 you've ever seen before.
Aszure Barton & Artists perform at 7:30 tonight in Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Tickets are $12, $25 and $32, plus applicable fees, available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or MauiArts.org.
MAPA's "Aristocats Kids" and "Honk, Jr.": Maui Academy of Performing Arts invites young performers ages 8 and up to audition for this summer's musical-theater camps. The camps will culminate in full-scale productions of two musicals at Steppingstone Playhouse in Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. The younger performers will present "Disney's Aristocats Kids" and the teens will perform "Honk, Jr." Auditions are open to all students entering grades 3 to 12 next school year. No experience is necessary. Young people trying out should wear comfortable clothes and be prepared to stay until 5 p.m.
Auditions will be held 12:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 10. To register for auditions, download a registration form at www.mauiacademy.org/sumr.asp and email the form in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, call 244-8760.
MAPA's "Damn Yankees": Maui Academy of Performing Arts invites actors to audition for the musical comedy "Damn Yankees." The show has a cast of up to 35 actors, singers and dancers. Auditions are open to all performers, ages 16 to adult. Rehearsals begin in late May. The show will be performed outdoors at Maui Tropical Plantation's Field of Dreams at 7:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Aug. 5 through 21.
Auditions will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 8, at the MAPA studios in Wailuku and 12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at Steppingstone Playhouse in Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. To schedule a 10-minute audition slot, e-mail MAPA production manager Mark Collmer at email@example.com or call 244-8760, ext 224.
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 album contenders "For Your Consideration" and "Kathy Griffin Does the Bible Belt") and a New York Times best-selling author (for "Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin"). She's coming to Hawaii 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 Castle Theater at the MACC. Tickets are $36, $46 and $56, plus applicable fees, available as above.