Here's an obscure reference. Remember that blue thing that was the mascot for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics? It was named Whatizit (what is it?) Everyone hated it, so they tweaked the androgynous blue blob and nicknamed it Izzy.
The most difficult aspect of explaining "The Garden of BE" is trying to answer that simple question - what is it?
At its heart is artist/writer Tess Cartwright's love of children and her need to create a better world for future generations. Its fairy tale however is far more complex. "The Garden of BE" shares much more with "Yellow Submarine" than "Cinderella," but it is also reminiscent of "Fantasia," "The Dark Crystal" and "The Lorax."
The cast fills the stage at the Historic Iao Theater with color, music and magic in Tess Cartright’s “The Garden of BE.”
MATTHEW WILKINS photo
To quote its author, "Some people will say, 'I heard it was sweet and it had a great message,' while others might say, 'I thought it was a bunch of crap.' "
At Friday's "A Night in the Garden of BE" celebration, I overheard one guest telling another, "beware of the hippies." After explaining the plot to a local actor, his reply was, "So I should smoke a joint before I go?"
In short, it's trippy. Sort of like watching a Russian cartoon and asking yourself, "What am I looking at?"
* "The Garden of BE" by Tess Cartwright is a joyous musical fantasy for all ages with original music by Joe DeRose, original choreography by Aly Cardinalli and direction by Steven Dascoulias. It is a mix of puppetry, magical effects and live action with fantastical costumes and a lavish set constructed of recycled materials. Opening Friday it continues through Oct. 2 at the Historic Iao Theater. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $40, $22, $15 and $10 for children 12 and younger. For more information, contact Maui OnStage at 242-6969 or visit mauion stage.com.
Twelve of Maui's finest dancers play the Reds (Dale Button, Hadley Garcia, Kirsten Gilchrist, Julie Kawamura, Sarah Loney and Jason Wulf) and the Blues (Jennifer Andrade, Tazu Arian, KD Churchill, Caleb Rhodes, Nahir Slepicki and Hana Valle). These two forces are in constant conflict for control of their garden, choosing to segregate themselves to either the right or the left. When a creature they have never encountered before, Little Yellow (Noah Magbual) enters their garden, he is rejected and chased away. Enter Large Yellow (Genie Calagna) who chooses to wander and wonder the earth. Through song and dance she helps the garden dwellers find joy and meaning and most importantly, learn to get along.
In some ways "The Garden of BE" is an operetta with a limited amount of spoken lines and stretches of simply music and dance only. Composer Joe DeRose conducts the live orchestra comprising Angie Carr (piano), Silvina Samuel (cello), Luana Baker (violin), Joseph Mendoca (bass) and John McMullen (flute).
The team of designers creating this fantasy world will offer up an eye candy feast of color, light and special effects. Set designer Caro Walker has created an enormous puppet volcano (Sharleen Lagattuta) that erupts onstage; a wall of faces playing a rock (Salvatore Lagattuta), stone (Joseph Duncan) and pebble (Sylver Ebiriekwe); and the Salvador Dali-like garden itself constructed of recycled plastic.
Marsha Kelly heightens the illusion with costumes similar to something out of an ancient pagan festival. Lighting designer Andrea Finkelstein helms the task of creating rock-concert lighting with massive use of color, black light and follow spots. Director Steven Dascoulias is very familiar with dealing with new works and the constant changes that go with them.
"In a developing a new work one must stay flexible," he said. Describing a previous original musical experience, he added, "New songs were inserted, time signatures of songs were changed, new choreography was added and the company accepted and rose to the challenge of the occasion."
Just like you may have to Google Whatizit, "The Garden of BE" must be seen to understand. It is a tale of acceptance reminiscent of both the Ugly Duckling and Mary Magdalene, but it is also an entire philosophy set to music. One of the many messages in "The Garden of BE" is to accept change and embrace the new.
Cartwright's ultimate goal is not about ticket sales but instead invites the audience, "Help us create a sound so clear and pure that every soul will sing in resounding harmony, so the Earth unbound will ring."
Ironically just as Large and Little Yellow challenge the Reds and Blues to open their hearts and minds by embracing the new, Tess Cartwright and Maui OnStage are asking the same of its "Garden" audiences.
"Sylvia" Oct. 7 to Oct. 23 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei: ProArts presents A.R. Gurney's howlingly funny "Sylvia" directed by Mark Colmer. "Sylvia" is the tale of a middle-aged 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 New York Daily News reviewer.
* Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, (no performance Oct. 9). Saturday, Oct. 8, and Thursdays 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.
"An Evening with Lee Cataluna" 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, at the McCoy Studio Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center: The Maui-born writer and Baldwin High alum will read from her hilarious new novel set on Maui, "Three Years on Doreen's Sofa." Cataluna has been a journalist, novelist and playwright in Hawaii for the past 20 years. Her award-winning works include the plays "Half Dozen Long Stem" and "Da Maya" and her collection of short stories, "Folks You Meet in Longs."
* Tickets are $20 plus applicable fees. To purchase, visit the MACC box office, call 242-7469 or order online at mauiarts.org.
Disney's Imagination Movers 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9, in Castle Theater at the MACC: The Big Easy-based rock band for kids and stars of the hit television series "Idea Warehouse" is bringing the act to Maui for one day only! Expect appearances from Nina, the warehouse mouse, and other popular characters from the series.
* Tickets are $15, $25, $35 and $45, plus applicable fees, available as above.
Maui OnStage will be holding auditions for Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday 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 period carols sung by an a cappella chorus. (Note: the role of Scrooge has been cast.) Actors may call 244-8680 to schedule an appointment. "A Christmas Carol" rehearsals will begin Oct. 3 with performances Nov. 25 to Dec. 11.
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, will run Nov. 4 to 20. ProArts' "Ruthless! The Musical" by Joal Paley and Marvin Laird, directed and choreographed by Aly Cardinalli, will run 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 8-14 for "Ruthless!" Auditioners should bring a current head shot and 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.
MAPA is offering two fall break performing art camps, Monday, Oct. 3, to Friday, Oct. 7. Francis Tau'a will instruct Drama Camp for ages 5 to 9, and Rebecca Owen will instruct Dance Camp for ages 6 to 10. Both camps meet from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the MAPA Studios, 2027 Main St., Wailuku. Cost for each is $175. To register contact MAPA at 244-8760 or visit mauiacademy.org.
Maui Fringe Festival 2012 at the Historic Iao Theater May 25-27 is now considering early submissions 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 will be available coming to the mauionstage.com website Nov. 1. Email questions or requests to email@example.com.
Ralphie May from NBC's "Last Comic Standing" is coming to Maui. May has performed stand-up on numerous late night talk shows, including "The Late Late Show" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live." He is also the first comedian in more than 10 years to receive a standing ovation on "The Tonight Show." Catch one of the most popular comedians in the country at Castle Theater, one night only. 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19. The $28 (plus applicable fees) general admission tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 16, at the MACC box office, 242-7469 or mauiarts.org.