Public appearances and lectures are not well-attended on Maui and I have a theory about why. The information presented is not relatable to the average Maui resident. Next Thursday, Oct. 6, Baldwin High alumnus and Maui native Lee Cataluna returns home to read excerpts from her latest novel, "Three Years on Doreen's Sofa," at 6:30 p.m. in McCoy Studio Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
The novel is set on Maui and is the story of Bobby, a bumbling ne'er-do-well attempting to put his life back together after three years in jail on a drug-related offense. Not generally the basis for comedy, however, Cataluna's novel is meant to be a fun read, both hilarious and heartwarming.
Lee Cataluna was raised in plantation houses in Wailuku and has since gone on to a Jill-ofall trades career in television, radio and journalism as well as being an award winning playwright of "Half Dozen Long Stem" and "Da Maya" and a much-loved island novelist. Her journey, in many ways, is a road map for young Maui dreamers trying to "make it."
“Garden of BE” creator Tess Cartright
When asked if she had any advice for aspiring Maui writers, Cataluna offered, "I think for creative people, there's always that feeling of 'up and coming' or at least hoping that you're 'up and coming.' Then you get to the point where someone asks you for advice and you think, 'Me? You're asking me? What do I know?!' You realize that you're getting old and people think you've figured something out! Yikes!"
Cataluna is at heart a realist and practical minded. Her appearance at the MACC will be less pep talk, more here's what you can expect.
"I write while I'm making dinner for my family, while I'm waiting in the parking lot to pick up my kid from school, while I'm doing laundry. It isn't romantic."
* An Evening with Lee Cataluna comes to the MACC' McCoy Studio Theater at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 6. The evening is not meant for children due to adult language. Tickets are $20 plus applicable fees. To purchase visit the MACC box office, call 242-7469 or order online at mauiarts.org.
The evening will be a mix of readings from "Three years on Doreen's Couch" and a previous collection of short stories, "Folks You Meet in Longs." Cataluna's work could be described as Dickensian with a little Mark Twain and Frank Capra tossed in. Her stories are about regular folks for regular folks.
"The stories I like best, both as a writer and as a reader, are about average people doing extraordinary things in order to live lives of dignity and purpose. This novel, "Three Years on Doreen's Sofa," isn't like that, though. The protagonist is an antihero who barely tries and often fails gloriously and uproariously. I think maybe he was a supporting character in a story I was hatching who just stepped forward and demanded that he have his own book."
Cataluna reminds aspiring writers, "A lousy first draft can be fixed. A perfect draft that never gets written isn't worth anything."
The Historic Iao Theater was packed for last Friday's world premiere of Tess Cartwright's bedazzling "The Garden of BE." In addition to the usual opening night excitement, its author was also celebrating her 70th birthday. The enthusiastic crowd oohed and ahhed over the special effects, and the sound of children's laughter filled the air.
Highlights from the musical fantasy include a flashing flying entity that zooms over the crowd only to crash upon the stage where it magically transforms into a bird puppet, fairy angel Jacqueline Cassandra. Puppeteer and actor Lee Garrow creates a delightful comic voice and character (as well as building the puppet himself!), which grounds the complicated fairy tale. Jacqueline's movements and reactions throughout the entire performance are a joy to watch. Garrow masters the idea of a puppet being an actor, yet he never steals focus from the primary action.
Cartwright's story is steeped in symbolism which, in the end, must be interpreted by each individual audience member. What I see is a variation on the Holy Spirit: Jacqueline Cassandra is a glowing entity but when she enters the physical world of the garden she transforms into a bird, not unlike the dove of Noah's Ark or Christ's baptism.
Another crowd favorite is Little Yellow's (Noah Magbual) tear-jerking solo, "Tell Me the Story." Magbual is an immensely talented young man whom I look forward to seeing in many more musicals in the future. Even the most cynical audience member can't help being deeply touched by Magbual's lament to "the eternal one," asking, "Help me find my way," yet optimistic that "there will be a brighter day."
Another musical highlight is Laura Bloom Farber's "Colors of Joy," delivered offstage as Magbual's Little Yellow nestles up to Large Yellow (Genie Calagna) after longing to find a fellow yellow creature. The touching moment is reminiscent of the famous Dumbo and his mother scene from the Disney classic.
The biggest crowd-pleaser, however, is choreographer Aly Cardinalli's take on "The Great Conduit." With help from costumer Marsha Kelly, The Great Conduit (Kirsten Gilchrist), Transcend (Alana Koa), Transform (Bailey Keller) and Transmit (Rayna Koiskikawa) dance in complete darkness with light-up costumes. The mesmerizing effect heightened by a flying neon guitar (Kainoa Reponte) should go down in Iao Theater history as one of its memorable Maui production numbers.
Much of Cartwright's tale revolves around the idea of "the parallel of three." Genie Calagna's Large Yellow explains this in the second act. The numerals 1 and 3, when pushed together, make a B. If you take a 3 and flip it around it becomes a E; on its back it becomes a W and upside down an M. Combinations of E, B, M and W are Be, Me and We. Four letters making three words and we're back to one and three.
The symbolism is the basic idea of the Trinity. Three in one, not unlike St. Patrick's teachings to the pagans of Ireland. A shamrock is both three leaves and one leaf at the same time. Throw a fourth leaf in the mix and you get good luck.
Large Yellow is almost messianic or saintlike in nature, bringing knowledge and joy to the Red and Blue creatures. She departs after her work is done but vows to return. Other uses of three include the three rocks in the wall (Joseph Duncan, Sal Lagattuta, Sylver Ebiriekwe) that fairy angel Jacqueline Cassandra sits upon. There are three primary colors and all three major religions acknowledge the power of the number three. Other symbolism one might see is the idea of Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal man living in the same world, but one species being more evolved. There is a lot to think about when viewing "the Garden of BE," but if your brain hurts you can also view its costumes, effects and incredible set as simply a delight to the eyes.
Don't miss the final weekend of "The Garden of BE" by Tess Cartwright with original music by Joe DeRose, original choreography by Aly Cardinalli and directed by Steven Dascoulias 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. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $40, $22 and $10 for children 12 and younger. For more information, contact Maui OnStage at 242-6969 or visit mauionstage.com
"Sylvia" Oct. 7 to Oct. 23 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei: ProArts presents A.R. Gurney's howlingly funny comedy directed by Mark Colmer. "Sylvia" is the tale of a middle-age Manhattan couple (Marilynn Hirashima, Greg Newman) who adopt a dog found in the park bearing only the name "Sylvia" on her name tag. Sylvia (Jackie Shea) becomes a major bone of contention between husband and wife.
"Delicious and dizzy," says The New York Times."One of the most involving, beautiful, funny, touching and profound plays I have ever seen," adds a New York Daily News reviewer.
* Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays.There will be no performance Oct. 9. Saturday, Oct. 8, and Thursdays and 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.
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 at the MACC box office, 242-7469 or online at mauiarts.org.
Kihei's ProArts will be holding open auditions for two productions from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday 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.
Kamp Krazy Tales returns Monday! Another great drama/music camp is being offered to the keiki of Kihei ages 5 to 10 at the ProArts Playhouse in Azeka Shopping Center. Classes run from 9 a.m. to noon Monday to Friday, Oct. 7. Fee is $150. Kristi Scott and Marti Kluth are presenting the camp in conjunction with ProArts Inc., culminating with a short performance for parents. Pre-registration is required; no previous experience necessary. For more information, call 276-4847 or visit mkluth.com.