Catchy tunes and a captivating storyline are a great backdrop for the talent and creativity of the 18 young cast members of "Honk, Jr." Directed by Sally Sefton and Francis Tau'a, with music by George Stiles and book and lyrics by Anthony Drewe, "Honk, Jr." is the culminating production of Maui Academy of Performing Arts' Teen Musical Summer Camp, which teaches music, acting, dancing and teamwork skills to youth ages 13-17. Based on "The Ugly Duckling" by Hans Christian Anderson, the show explores the problem of bullying and the importance of diversity, tolerance and acceptance of what makes each person unique.
The dance numbers, choreographed by Rebecca Owen, are delightful to watch, especially since the performers infuse every step with energy and enthusiasm. With the help of musical director Kirsten Otterson, the teens also do a great job tackling the sometimes tricky but always lively score.
Vanessa Cerrito's quirky, adorable costumes, created with the help of volunteer seamstresses Ronnie Pietsch and Debbie Sutherland, take on personalities of their own. The ducks are charming in country vintage dresses and overalls, while the swans dazzle in jewel-encrusted tutus and white tuxedos. The Bullfrog (Kaimana Neal) looks especially unique in bright green round-rimmed spectacles.
Casey Hearl, as mother duck Ida, takes her ducklings, played by Bethany Imonti (from right) Mitchell Harper, Emma Smith, Ka’eo Sugimura and Kiegan Otterson, for a walk in MAPA’s “Honk, Jr.”
David Hessemer photo
Kiegan Otterson is splendid as Ugly, the sensitive but oversized and awkward young bird who learns to be comfortable in his own feathers. Otterson's sweet voice and earnest manner make him perfect for the leading role.
Casey Hearl shows off her lovely voice as the caring mother duck Ida, who accepts Ugly for who he is, inside and out. Her solo, "Different," is beautiful and moving.
Kaimana is convincing as Ugly's distant and unsympathetic father, Drake. In the second act, he makes great use of body language to transform into Drake's mirror image, the eccentric but warmhearted Bullfrog, who teaches Ugly that looks are not everything. With a strong singing voice and a big presence onstage, Neal anchors the show.
Bethany Imonti, Mitchell Harper, Ka'eo Sugimura and Emma Smith are cute but bratty as ducklings Beaky, Billy, Fluff and Downy. Isabelle Morton Mosbarger and Kela Rothstein are great as Ida's friends Maureen and Henrietta.
Holly Weisel is graceful and elegant as fledgling swan Penny, Ugly's young love interest. Josie Sutherland and Zachary Hessemer are Penny's stately parents. In a funny casting twist, Sutherland and Hessemer also play the gawky Mr. and Mrs. Turkey.
Eliza Wright is the treacherous, cruel Cat. Jai Litman commands the troops as the duty-bound goose admiral, Greylag. Kaitlyn Brunner is sweet and funny as his soft-tempered wife, Dot. Tasiana Igondjo and Ava Shipman help complete the goose squadron as Barnacles and Snowy. Annika Otterson is the queenly duck Grace, the self-titled "most distinguished bird on the lake," and the puffed-up reporter Jay Bird from "America's Most Feathered."
The production team includes set designer Caro Walker, lighting designers Christina Sutrov and Mark Collmer, props designer Vicki Sparkman and stage manager Christina Kailiponi.
With 18 fledgling performers and an adult team committed to helping them shine, "Honk, Jr." is a treat for the ears, eyes and heart.
"Honk, Jr." takes the stage for its final weekend at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday at Steppingstone Playhouse. Tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for students. Call 244-8760 or visit mauiacademy.org for tickets.
"MenageTrois": Kit Kat Club Cabaret presents "MenageTrois," a burlesque rock show featuring Jessica Rabbit and the Propers and bellydance sensation Karli Rose. Bring some friends or a date you want to seduce and start your journey with some of the world's most notorious aphrodisiac drinks (specials on Kettle 1, Chopin, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and Absinthe Drinks), get cozy in the sophisticated and fashionable lounge of Three's, then feast your eyes on some seriously sexy, sultry and swingin' entertainment.
"MenageTrois" comes to Three's Bar & Grill in Kihei at 10 p.m. Friday. Entry is $10.
"Sesame Street Live, 1-2-3 Imagine! With Elmo and Friends": Kids of all ages can imagine singing and dancing with Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Big Bird and all your favorite Sesame Street Live friends! It's as easy as counting "1-2-3 Imagine!" This high-energy musical will transport audiences to faraway places as Ernie captains the high seas, Elmo dances to the rhythm of the African rain forest and Bert meets an octopus who has the blues. It's a story of adventure and fun that teaches children they can be anyone, do anything and go anywhere with the power of imagination.
"Sesame Street Live" shows at 7 p.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m., 2 and 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 and 4:30 p.m. Sunday, July 29 through 31, in Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Tickets are $10, $20, $33, $48 and $73, plus applicable fees, available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or mauiarts.org.
Wanda Skyes at the MACC:?Called "one of the funniest stand-up comics" by her peers, Wanda Sykes is ranked among Entertainment Weekly's 25 Funniest People in America. From movies to TV shows to stand-up and comedy tours, Wanda Sykes has proven that funny is her business. She is coming to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center on Sept. 9. Tickets are $46, $66 and $76, available from the MACC.
Cirque Polynesia introduces new cast, new theme: Some of the world's most dazzling cirque artists have reached the shores of the Kaanapali coast to star in the all-new Cirque Polynesia at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa. After two years, Cirque Polynesia's theme shifts toward the beauty and drama of a true cirque performance - modern-day performing arts ingeniously blending theatrical innovation and physical virtuosity. The new 60-minute show is now accentuated with sumptuous costumes, solo vocal routines and dances, more original orchestrations and enhanced staging. Hints of the original Polynesian theme are interspersed throughout the show. "We scoured the globe to find the very best cirque artists to put an all-star ensemble together into one show that's unlike any other in Hawaii," explained Doug Harris, managing partner and creator of Cirque Polynesia. "If you appreciate the beauty of cirque performances and Hawaii, this is the perfect combination that will simply blow you away."
"Cirque Polynesia" shows at 7:30 p.m. Mondays though Saturdays at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa. Tickets are $26.10 and up for children younger than 12 and $58.50 and up for adults. For details, visit www.CirquePolynesia.com or call the box office at 667-4540.
Maui Academy of Performing Arts' Summer Dance Camps: Students can still snag a spot in MAPA's Weekly Summer Dance Camp for children ages 6 through10. Taught by Rebecca Owen, the camp runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, July 29. Tuition is $175.
MAPA's fall registration: Registration recently opened for MAPA's fall semester, which offers 94 weekly classes for students ages 1 to adult in drama, ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, contemporary, Broadway dance, "Mommy & Me" and - new this semester - "Glee Club." Dance classes on the west side for ages 5-10 available. Multiple discounts and scholarships are available.
For details on summer dance camps or fall registration, visit www.mauiacademy.org or call 244-8760.