It's not every day that a collaborative original production is created from scratch. On Friday, "A Night in the Garden of BE" with playwright Tess Cartwright and her talented team of collaborators comes to the Historic Iao Theater to show how it's done.
The free event will be part art reception and celebration with an awards ceremony for the recent "The Garden of BE" art show. Enjoy refreshments, vote for the "people's choice award" and glimpse a sneak peek from the upcoming MOS musical production.
Cartwright's "Garden of BE" is a world where everything is alive, from rocks to birds, a belching volcano and even color. Each entity in this fantasy world is symbolic of a larger idea. The Reds and the Blues represent male and female, respectively. Like the ugly duckling, Little Yellow (Noah Magbual) is an outcast with no connection to his community until encountering Large Yellow (Genie Calagna), a wanderer with a broader outlook on life.
“Garden of BE” playwright and recycling artist Tess Cartright is surrounded by her creative team: production manager/director Steven Dascoulias (from left),choreographer Aly Cardinalli and composer Joe DeRose.
MATTHEW WILKENS photo
Helping Cartwright put it together "bit by bit" is MOS production manager and director, Steven Dascoulias. Dascoulias has triple duty on this one creating special effects, fine tuning the original music and directing its cast of 24 singers, dancers and actors.
The original music is written by Joe DeRose, former "Tonight Show" Band/Doc Severinsen Band trumpeter. DeRose's music is reminiscent of Stravinsky and Charlie Parker, but like a Parker solo, the music finds its way to rest upon a simple melody after wandering to unexpected places. Choreographer Aly Cardinalli has free reign to truly create choreography never seen before, at times on the spot, a la Bob Fosse. The varied dance styles range from Joffrey Ballet to something out of "Stomp." Set designer Caro Walker, with the help of dozens of artists and community work-day volunteers, create a tropical primitive world out of recycled plastic, wires, tree branches, wrappers, packaging and foam rubber.
Watching all these talented, passionate artists working together, seeing script changes, choreography and orchestration altered during the rehearsals has been quite magical from my vantage point as the show's stage manager. Its creators as well as the cast and crew will be alongside the general public at Friday's world premiere of this100-percent Maui-made musical.
Enjoy "A Night in the Garden of BE" at 6 p.m. Friday, at the Historic Iao Theater. Free! For more information visit mauionstage.com
Wanda Sykes packed the MACC Friday night with a seamless two-hour, standing-ovation performance. Sure, lots of stuff sells out on Maui, but then there's - no more! We're serious. Fire code SOLD OUT. The usual industry courtesy comps were hard to come by and it appeared all the ushers had to stand to accommodate the demand for tickets. Those in attendance were buzzing about it all weekend and what a diverse crowd of Maui art and culture lovers it was, including celebrity chef Bev Gannon, Maui College Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto, MAPA Executive Director David Johnston, singer/actress/director Ashley Welte and Comedy Hui founder Amanda Taulere.
Sykes mixed a blend of her past wildly popular stories with new ones that must have been written hours prior to the show. Commenting on Maui's beauty, Sykes said, "If I was born here, I'd never leave. I'd learn how to breathe fire or something." The laughs were never-ending, mixed with tears, snorts and gasps for breath that could be heard throughout Castle Theater. Highlights included tales of her evil stomach named "Esther," whose escapades range from almost causing a car accident while demanding to be taken to the Cheesecake Factory, to creeping out of a pair of spanks to say hi to Jay Leno on a recent "Tonight Show."
What makes Sykes one of America's best comics is her ability to maintain that "oh my God," R-rated edge. The new mother has found ways to mix her everyday life into the act without watering it down for mainstream America. You're not going to hear Drew Carey or Ray Romano suggest a 2-year-old has stripper moves, complain that her white daughter calls her "Mammy" or boldly state, "If something goes wrong, guess which parent is going to jail?" followed by pantomiming handcuffs. Most resort comics are not likely to compare a bikini wax to a gazelle being ripped from the pack and devoured by a lion: "Run! Don't stop to drink the water, little @$$&#%*!"
Being on Maui time doesn't always translate into seeing the great acts that visit the MACC, but if you don't buy in advance you'll end up missing phenomenal artists like Wanda Sykes. Make plans now to see Broadway living legend Ben Vareen performing in January. Short of Barbra Streisand, there are very few performers capable of delivering the once-in-a-lifetime experience one should expect from Vareen. The entire 2011-'12 season calendar can be found online at mauiarts.org.
There's nothing more exciting to Maui directors and producers than the wild-card actor who apparently dropped from the sky. If it's been a while or you've just always wanted to try - go for it! Maui's theater companies will welcome you with plenty of aloha, and hey, you never know. In recent years jaws dropped at Casey Murphy's ("The Wedding Singer, "Chicago") first Maui audition, and again just a few months ago when Allison Mikes Holmes (Mama Morton in "Chicago") burst upon the scene. So now's your chance, aspiring Maui actors, as three productions begin casting in the coming weeks.
Maui OnStage will be holding auditions for Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" on Wednesday, Sept. 28, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Historic Iao Theater. This production, a traditional telling of the Scrooge tale, will be directed by Maui OnStage's executive director, Alexis Dascoulias, with musical direction by Bob Wills. "A Christmas Carol" will also feature many traditional period carols sung by an acappela chorus (Note: The role of Scrooge has been cast). Actors may call 244-8680 to schedule an appointment. The auditions will be set up in groups and those who would like to be considered for the madrigal singers should be familiar with their vocal part to "Silent Night."
"A Christmas Carol" rehearsals will begin Oct. 3 with performances Nov. 25 to Dec. 11.
If that downtown commute is too much for you, Kihei's ProArts will be holding open auditions for two productions from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, at the ProArts Playhouse. "Jack & the Beanstalk," a ProArts original fractured fairy tale directed by Jonathan Lehman, runs Nov. 4 to 20. Also from ProArts, "Ruthless! The Musical" by Joel Paley and Marvin Laird, will be directed and choreographed by Aly Cardinalli. "Ruthless!" runs Dec. 9 to Jan. 15 with a two-week holiday break. ProArts auditions are for actors 14 and older, but Cardinalli will be auditioning girls ages 8 to14 for "Ruthless!" Pro Arts asks you bring a current head shot, resum and be prepared to sing 16 bars from a Broadway musical as well as read from the script(s). A stipend is paid to all participants.
Callbacks will be held on Sunday, Oct. 9. For more information, call ProArts at 463-6550.
Don't miss the final weekend of "Social Security" by Andrew Bergman. Trendy art gallery owners Barbara and David have their life upended when Barbara's uptight sister and brother-in-law, Trudy and Martin, deposit their eccentric mother, Sophie, on their doorstep while they head to Buffalo to rescue their sexually precocious daughter. Sophie is introduced to a suave, aging artist named Maurice who brightens her life in ways she never expected.
"Social Security" contains some adult content. Performances are at 7:30 tonight (sold out) through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. Thursdays and Saturdays are kamaaina nights, with $15 tickets with Hawaii I.D. Regular-price tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students 18 and younger. Call 463-6550 for tickets or details.
"The Garden of BE" by Tess Cartwright. Experience a joyous musical fantasy for all ages with original music by Joe DeRose and original choreography by Aly Cardinalli, directed by Steven Dascoulias from Sept. 23 to Oct. 2 at the Historic Iao Theater. "The Garden of BE" is a mix of puppetry, magical effects and live action with fantastical costumes and a lavish set constructed of recycled materials.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 23 to Oct. 2. Tickets are $40, $22, $15 and $10 for children 12 and younger. For more information, contact Maui OnStage at 242-6969 or visit mauionstage.com
ProArts presents A.R. Gurney's howlingly funny "Sylvia" directed by Mark Colmer from Oct. 7 to Oct. 23 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. "Sylvia" is the tale of a middle-age Manhattan couple who adopt a dog found in the park bearing only the name "Sylvia" on her name tag. Sylvia (originally played by Sarah Jessica Parker) becomes a major bone of contention between husband and wife. "Delicious and dizzy" said The New York Times. "One of the most involving, beautiful, funny, touching and profound plays I have ever seen" added a reviewer for the New York Daily News.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, (No performance Oct. 9), Oct. 7 to 23. Thursdays and Saturdays are kamaaina nights, with $15 tickets with Hawaii I.D. Regular-price tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students 18 and younger. Call 463-6550 for tickets or more information.
MAPA fall break performing arts camps. The Maui Academy of Performing Arts is offering two performing arts camps from Monday, Oct. 3, to Friday, Oct. 7. Francis Tau'a will instruct Drama Camp for ages 5 to 9; and Rebecca Owen will lead Dance Camp for ages 6 to 10 at the MAPA Studios, 2027 Main St., Wailuku. Both classes meet from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; cost for each is $175. To register, contact MAPA at 244-8760 or visit mauiacademy.org.
The second annual Maui Fringe Festival is now accepting early submissions. By popular demand Maui OnStage will present the Maui Fringe Festival 2012 at the Historic Iao Theater from May 25 to 27. Early submissions will be considered at no charge until Nov. 1. Submissions after Nov. 1 require a $20 per-play fee. Mail a hard copy of the script to the Historic Iao Theater, 68 N. Market St,, Wailuku 96793, Attn. Maui Fringe Festival. No script may exceed 59 minutes. If accepted, a $500 entry fee entitles Fringe Festival participants to three performances of their original one-act play. Official entry forms and Maui Fringe Festival guidelines are coming to the mauionstage.com website Nov. 1. Email any questions or requests to email@example.com.