Maui OnStage's "The Taming of the Shrew" is gutsy, sexy and totally unique. Director Cassandra Wormser envisions a futuristic Padua City, located on the planet Lombardy in the solar system Italia X, with an edgy comic-book feel. As if the space-age, manga-inspired set (designed by Gregory K. Jones) and costumes (Larissa Williams) are not novel enough, Wormser adds some even bigger kinks by changing the father, Baptista, into a mother (Lauren Burgess), and Bianca's lover, Lucentio, into lesbian "Lucentia" (Lehua Simon) and staging a BDSM power struggle between "The Shrew" Kate (Genie Calagna) and her "Tamer" Petruchio (Curtis "Chino" LaForge).
The gender swaps seem a little forced, despite solid acting by Burgess and Simon. Burgess is perfect as the cool but gracious socialite, but as a mom, her character's aloofness toward her daughters seems odd, raising questions about their relationship that Shakespeare, who wrote the character as a father, does not answer. A female Baptista does create the opportunity for a sidesplitting courtship dance between her and her daughter's ex-suitor, Gremio (Vinnie Linares).
Bianca (Lia Krieg) and Lucentia's lesbian love affair is a lot of fun but ultimately confusing. All of Bianca's other suitors are male, but no one seems to notice or react when she chooses a woman instead. Are open lesbian relationships commonplace in Italia X? Do Bianca and her family already recognize and accept her bisexuality? The gender switch opens the door for a lot of interesting questions, none of which are explored. Still, Krieg as the pouty, flirtatious It-girl and Simon, as the air-headed, infatuated newcomer, make a delightful pair to watch.
Genie Calagna and Lia Kreig
JACK GRACE photo
Turning the "taming" into a BDSM role-play game is a bold choice with very interesting results. It sidesteps the main problem with "Shrew" from a modern standpoint, the blatant sexism of Petruchio's bid to control an unwilling Kate. In this version, Petruchio and Kate are well-matched players in a game of dominance and submission, adding an element of equality and a much more modern vibe to their relationship. The interpretation works because it draws on elements already hidden just below the surface of Shakespeare's nuanced dialogue.
As Kate, Calagna is brusque and haughty, but occasionally betrays a vulnerability that keeps the character likeable. LaForge masters the role of Petruchio with swagger and bravado.
Rueben Carrion plays Petruchio's servant Tranio with energy and humor. Linares is hilarious as Bianca's suitor Gremio, while Brian Patrick Connolly is strong as his rival suitor, Hortensio. As Hortensio's second-choice bride, the Widow, Sharleen Lagattuta is perfectly sarcastic and sour. Kalani Whitford hams up his short appearance as Petruchio and Kate's flustered tailor. Michael McGuffey, Kelani Irene Feliciano, Jason Strahn and Robyn Grahn play comical servants Grumio, Nalia, Curtis and Biondella.
Wormser's futuristic retelling of "Shrew" takes big risks, with dynamic and intriguing results. This show will have people talking for weeks to come.
* "The Taming of the Shrew" shows 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through May 29 at the Historic Iao Theater. Tickets are $15, $20 and $40. Call 242-6969 or visit MauiOnStage.com.
MAPA's Spring Extravaganza and MOVES: Maui Academy of Performing Arts (MAPA) presents its Spring Extravaganza with a "Jazz, Tap & Hip Hop Revue," featuring dancers of all ages strutting their stuff in jazz, tap, contemporary and hip-hop; and the ballet "Sleeping Beauty," set to Tchaikovsky's stunning score, featuring more than 200 MAPA ballerinas ages 3 to adult. In "MOVES," MAPA's highly trained dance company presents an extraordinary evening of original choreography in the style of MAPA's "Pieces" dance concerts.
* "Jazz, Tap & Hip Hop Revue" hits the stage at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Castle Theater followed by "MOVES" at 7:30 p.m. in the same venue. "Sleeping Beauty" takes the Castle Theater stage at 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets for "Jazz, Tap and Hip Hop Revue" and "Sleeping Beauty" are $12. Tickets for "MOVES" are $15 for adults and $12 for kids 12 and younger. Applicable fees are added to the price of tickets, available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or www.mauiarts.org.
Seabury Hall Side Shows: Seabury Hall Performing Arts ends its season with its 16th annual "Side Shows," a wild array of short plays -10 plays, 10 minutes or less! This year's crop of plays includes pieces by professional contemporary playwright David Ives and Seabury student playwrights (and directors) Miles Kelsey and Sydney Roberts. Festival directors Sally Sefton and Todd Van Amburgh are joined by adult directors Vinnie Linares, Kay McLeod, Ryan Walsh, and Scott Winham are joined by student directors Morgan Malkovich, Gregory Saydeh and Chara'e Tongg.
"The one-act festival has proven to be an ideal experience for students and audiences," says Van Amburgh. "The show is a roller coaster ride for the audience. The one-act festival is great education and great fun!"
* "Side Shows" hits the stage at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Seabury Hall Performance Studio. (The time was previously listed incorrectly.) Tickets are $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and $4 for students. Call 573-1257 for information and reservations.
The Wayans Brothers - Marlon and Shawn: Younger members of comedy's "first family," Marlon and Shawn Wayans got their start on FOX TV's ground-breaking comedy sketch series, "In Living Color," created and produced by their older brothers, Damon and Keenan Ivory Wayans. Marlon and Shawn also starred in the long-running sitcom, "The Wayans Bros." These two comedic prodigies hit pay dirt on the silver screen in comedy blockbusters including "I'm Gonna Get You Sucka," "Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in The Hood," "Scary Movie," "Scary Movie 2," "White Chicks," "Little Man", and "Dance Flick."
"We're not the Smothers Brothers," Marlon, 38, says. "We bring it, and bring it hard."
* The Wayans Brothers perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the MACC's Castle Theater. Ticket are $39, $49 and $59, plus applicable fees. Post-show meet-and-greet is $30 extra. MACC tickets available as above.
"Greater Tuna": ProArts, Inc. presents "Greater Tuna," the worldwide comedy hit as the final production of its spring season. This hysterical two-man comedic tour de force will be presented for10 performances at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. Playwrights Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard welcome you to Tuna, Texas-where the population is small, but the personalities are big! Thurston and Arles on OKKK Radio bring the daily happenings, complete with UFOs, smut snatchers and puppy pushers. Actors Tom Althouse and Jonathan Lehman plays 10 characters apiece in this gut-splitting comedy set in the third smallest town in the Lone Star state. Doug Kendrick directs with assistant direction by Kristi Scott.
* "Greater Tuna" plays 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, May 27 through June 12, at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. (There will be no performance on May 29.) Reserved seats are $20 for adults and $15 for students 18 and younger. Kamaaina nights are Saturday, May 28, and Thursdays, June 2 and 9, with discounts for Hawaii residents. Call 463-6520 for tickets or more information.
MAPA summer camps: Calling all young actors ages 8 and up Maui Academy of Performing Arts offers top-notch training in acting, singing and dancing in this summer's Musical Theatre Camps, leading up to full-scale productions of Disney's "Aristocats Kids" and "Honk, Jr." at Steppingstone Playhouse in Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. The Aristocats camp for students entering grades 3 to 8 runs May 30 to June 22 with performances June 23 to 26. The Honk camp for students entering grades 6 to 12 runs June 8 to July 15 with performances July 15 to 24. MAPA also offers other dance and drama camps and classes throughout the summer. For more information, go to www.mauiacademy.org or call MAPA at 244-8760.