Alley Cats Productions offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the cult classic "Pulp Fiction" hit the stage. Producers Nicholas Batres and Justin Banek adapted Quentin Tarantino's popular film for the stage, with interesting results.
Translating the work of a cinematic master like Tarantino into a theater production is risky, and "Pulp Fiction" in particular seemed to resist adaptation. The stylized cinematography is, of course, lost onstage, along with the film's emphasis on place and atmosphere.
Instead, the play relies on frequent, unwieldy set changes that disrupt the flow and often fail to convey the distinct mood of each location. An exception is Jack Rabbit Slim's, the '50s-themed restaurant where Vincent Vega takes his mob boss's wife to dinner. The original art by David Sandell and actors dressed as '50s-era celebrities (Katheryn Jones, Catherin Berg and David Frank Gallagher are Marilyn Monroe, Mimi Van Doren and Elvis) are fun and effective.
Makena Wright (from left), Scarlett Engle, Charae Tongg and Clyde Engle share a laugh in “Cinema Italiano” from the movie musical “Nine,” choreographed by Andre Morissette in the Seabury Hall “Dance Showcase.”
Eric Rolph Photography photo
The large cast of characters, many of whom only appear once, and the nonlinear sequence of events might make it challenging to follow the plot for those who have not seen the movie. The show switches frequently among three storylines, which made sense on screen but seem muddled and confusing onstage. The producers would have had to take some major liberties with the plot to get around this problem, which would have presented issues of its own.
That said, the production faithfully relays the shock factor, character quirks and much of the irony and dark humor of the original, providing more than one evening's worth of shooting, shouting, blood, drugs and loud music. Tarantino fans will get a kick out of seeing Maui actors play the show's eccentric characters.
In general, the acting is strong and does the characters justice. Nicholas Batres is believable and engaging as Vincent Vega, a gangster whom mob boss Marcellus Wallace (Curtis "Chino" LaForge) hires to entertain his new wife while he goes out of town. Ruben Alexander shows off a big, funny and idiosyncratic personality as Jules Winfield, Vincent's partner.
Shar Lagattuta plays Mia Wallace, Marcellus Wallace's wife. She does not quite capture the mystery and edge that made the character compelling in the film, but gives an interesting and sympathetic performance nonetheless.
William Makozak is effective as Butch, a newly retired boxer who has to flee for his life after double-crossing Marcelles Wallace, while Danielle Tatik is cute and funny as Butch's girlfriend, Fabian.
As English Dave, Elvis and Zed, David Frank Gallagher is a standout despite his small roles. He is hilarious, fearless and delightfully over the top.
Also great are Shakey Boteilho as Jimmie, Scott Spring as Winston Wolf, Justin Banek as Pumpkin, Karen Stavash as Honey Bunny, Josh Souter as Maynard and Eric Sievers as Lance. Iris Chamberlin, Jason Strahn, Nakota Crumbo and Jr. Hindman appear in supporting roles.
Despite a few problems, this gutsy adaptation of "Pulp Fiction" will be a hit among Tarantino fans.
* "Pulp Fiction" takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Historic Iao Theater. Tickets are $20. Get $5 off by bringing a non-perishable food to donate to the Maui Food Bank or dressing like a character from the movie. For reservations. call 359-1939.
"Theophilus North": This weekend is the last chance to see Maui Academy of Performing Arts' production of "Theophilus North." This quirky and compelling play written by Matthew Burnett is based on Thornton Wilder's novel of the same name.
It is the story of a bright young man with lofty ambitions named Theophilus North, who decides to embark on a quest for fun and adventure, but doesn't get very far. His Model T breaks down in elegant Newport, R.I. Working odd jobs for the wealthy, he inadvertently changes the lives of everyone he meets and ends up a changed man himself.
Producing a relatively unknown play is always a risk, but once he read the script for "Theophilus North," MAPA's executive and artistic director David C. Johnston said he knew producing this play was a risk worth taking.
"It's a play you don't know about people you do. There's a delicacy to this piece that's beautiful and infectious. It speaks to us."
* "Theophilus North" plays 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Steppingstone Playhouse in Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for seniors. Call 244-8760 or visit mauiacade my.org for reservations.
"RATS! The Pied Piper Musical": The town of Hamelin is besieged with singing and dancing rats! The town's only hope is to hire Peter the Pied Piper to rid the town of the vocalizing vermin. Madcap merriment ensues as Little Miss Muffet and the Town Council battle it out with conjuring, conniving con artists Madame Marie and The Great Donny. Happy ending? Of course! Loads of laughs and tons of tunes along the way. ProArts' "RATS! The Pied Piper Musical" features the best of Maui talent including Leif Peterson as Peter, Chaney Cramer as Little Miss Muffet, Bill Schnitzer as Mayor Muffet, Paul Janes-Brown as Councilmember Fiddler, Laura Bloom Farber as Councilmember Faddle, Jett Batoon as Madame Marie, James Natividad as The Great Donny, and Lisa Teichner, Barbara Sedano and Kristi Scott as the Rats. All ages will enjoy the show, which runs one hour without intermission.
* "RATS! The Pied Piper Musical" shows 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and 1 and 4 p.m. Sundays, April 22 through May 8 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. There will be no performance April 24. Reserved chair seating is $15 and floor seating for keiki is $10. For tickets and information, call 463-6520.
Seabury Hall's "Dance Showcase": Seabury's annual dance concert combines all levels of dance and ballet classes. This year's concert climaxes with a celebration of the American Musical with pieces from each level.
Guest artist Julane Stites from Portland, Ore., trains Seabury's top dancers, the Seabury Hall Dance Ensemble, to perform the opening audition segment of "A Chorus Line" and its finale, "One," which will include level C dancers.
Andre Morissette choreographs Seabury's top dancers in "Cinema Italiano" from the movie musical "Nine" and Level C dancers in the gambling number from "Guys and Dolls." David Ward choreographs the younger levels in "The Riviera" from "The Boyfriend" and "Blue Suede Shoes" from the Elvis Presley tribute, "Viva Las Vegas."
Ballet mistress Vanessa Cerrito has choreographed three musical pieces for her three ballet classes: "I Feel Pretty" from "West Side Story," "Popular" from "Wicked" and the Beatles' "Let it Be." The concert also reprises Ward's "Homage to Agnes" a Western suite set to the music of Yo Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer, and an excitingly rhythmic African fusion piece set to the music of Angelique Kidjo.
To balance the frothy glamor of the American Musical segment, Ward has created a segment of the show with a social relevance. Senior Miles Kelsey will perform in Ward's award-winning "Silver Spoon," a solo reminiscent of Gene Kelly that features a suite of songs from Leonard Bernstein's "On the Town." "Silver Spoon" will lead into "America's Shadow," a piece about the homeless, performed by the whole Seabury Hall Dance Ensemble, to the music of Woody Guthrie and Tom Waits.
With more than 75 performers, this is going to be another exciting, dynamic concert of high-energy dances and thoughtful choreography. Remember, "Dance Showcase" often sells out so make your reservations early!
* "Dance Showcase" takes the stage 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, April 22 through 30, and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at the Seabury Hall Performance Studio. Tickets are $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and $5 for students. For information and reservations, call 573-1257.
"Rhythmic Revolution Easter Tap and Funk": Seattle tap sensation Mark Mendonca will be on Maui teaching four different levels of tap dance. The beginning class is basic, and tap shoes are not required. It's the perfect opportunity to give it a try!
Beginning/Intermediate, Intermediate and Intermediate/Advanced are offered for more experienced tappers. Mark has performed at the White House for the last three presidents, starred on Broadway in "Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk" and opened for Barbara Streisand's last tour.
He is the featured dancer in the movie "Polar Express," has toured extensively worldwide and has been a guest artist in numerous festivals throughout North America. Mark is joined by funk artist Sunny Gorg, a Los Angeles native, who has studied music and dance since childhood. Sunny has performed on television, in films and in more than 50 music videos. Now primarily a Maui resident, she won the Choreographers' Slam at the MACC in 2009. Her popular classes are a sassy fusion of Afro-Caribbean, jazz, hip-hop and Latin dance. Two levels will be presented. A Showcase & Jam follows the classes, and participants are invited to perform. Mark will also teach tap Upcountry on Saturday, and Sunday, April 23 and 24, at the Kula Underground.
* For more information and schedules, visit www.MauiTapExperience.org or call 878-1482.