This might be the most read column I write this year. However it's because of the coupons, right? Plus hundreds of people are going to be bored out of their minds at some point during a Thanksgiving party and they'll inevitably decide to read the paper. My Thanksgivings have generally revolved around a TV, first the parade, then football, and eventually "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Miracle on 34th Street." Santa's caboose appearance in the Macy's parade marks the beginning of stuff Christmas-y and, of course, Black Friday now begins at midnight. If you're looking for an alternative Black Friday downtown outing, the granddaddy of the timeless classics "A Christmas Carol" opens Friday at the Historic Iao Theater.
Sure we've all seen it a gazillion times, but I'm always surprised to find there are people out there who have never seen a true version. Between Mr. Magoo, Scrooge McDuck and an episode of "WKRP in Cincinnati," Scrooge's tale might be the most plagiarized secular story of all time. Director Alexis Dascoulias added her thoughts: "It has been adapted time and again into movies, plays, musicals, cartoons and even a Muppet version. This proves one thing, that its message is timeless and universal. This story is a celebration of the good that can and will be inspired in us all during the holiday season. At Christmastime, people forget about their petty disputes, selfish tendencies and workaholic schedules and instead choose friendship, charity and celebration!"
Maui OnStage's "A Christmas Carol" is a classic gimmick-free telling. Because it is a reprisal from last year, a returning cast and crew can build upon period costumes, expand its set, and perfect the madrigal choir. Robert E. Wills directs the eight strolling carolers who sing traditional Christmas carols a cappella. Dascoulias describes the familiar 19th-century tunes sung by Dylan Bode, Diana Clark Crim, Kevin Lawrence, Deanna Pennington, Bill Schnitzer, Trillum Seafyer, Russell Taft and Penny Wakida as "simply gorgeous." The madrigals will also be appearing at the Bailey House Christmas concert at 2 p.m. Saturday followed by a 3:30 p.m. appearance at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center.
Mark Collmer is Scrooge and Gracie Clarke is the spirit of Christmas Past in Maui OnStage’s production of the Charles Dickens’ classic, opening Friday at the Historic Iao Theater.
Jessica Pearl photo
When asked about the luxury of so many returning cast members, Dascoulias offered, "This cast has been phenomenal to work with. They are all willing to try different things and go back and work on a scene until we feel it's just right. Time and again, I am truly inspired by the talent on this island. We are so very fortunate to have so many talented performers and artists who want to bring theater to our corner of the world."
It's hard not to be snarky at Christmas, which was probably true when Dickens sat down to write the story 150 years ago. Turns out he was trying to write a political leaflet about being pono at Christmas time. Queen Victoria had recently married Prince Albert, who imported Christmas schwag from Germany. Yes, Virginia, everything we think of as Christmas is really German well, except for Jesus. So Dickens leapfrogged onto the 1840s Christmas tree, Christmas card, Christmas present, Santa Claus craze and created Scrooge to make his point. Macys, Kermit, Dr. Johnny Fever and scary battery-powered singing dolls aside, Dickens' moral always survives: mean people suck. Or as Dascoulias suggests, "We are responsible for our own destiny, what we give out comes back to us and no one knows it better than Scrooge."
Someone out there can magnificently ruin Thanksgiving in a snap. Perhaps they already did. Perhaps you are related to them. Hopefully they'll get inspired by Christmas.
Maui OnStage presents "A Christmas Carol," Charles Dickens' classic holiday story with music, adapted by Tom Frey opening Friday and continuing weekends through Dec. 11. Alexis Dascoulias directs, Robert E. Wills is the musical director and Mark Collmer stars as Ebenezer Scrooge. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays at the Historic Iao Theater. Tickets are $40, $22, $15 and $10 for children 12 and younger. A First Friday family pack is available on Dec. 2: two adults and two children for $50. Dinner packages are also available for $40 per person. For more information, contact the Maui OnStage box office at 242-6969 or visit mauionstage.com.
Seabury Hall Performing Arts presents its 21st annual Christmas Party and Performing Arts Concert featuring the Seabury Hall dance program with drama and music guests under the direction of David Ward. The event will be held on two evenings, Friday, Dec. 2, and Saturday, Dec. 3; doors open at 6:30 p.m., the show starts at 7 p.m. in the Performance Studio on the Olinda campus. The $17 ticket includes complimentary desserts and beverages. On Sunday, Dec. 4, Seabury presents its One Benefit Fundraiser for the student dancers' Philadelphia trip. The performance is at 3 p.m. at the Performance Studio. Tickets are $10. For reservations or more information call 573-1257.
Maui OnStage is holding auditions for the rock musical "Grease" directed by guest New York director Brian Swasey from 5 to 9 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 5, at the Historic Iao Theater. The famous musical features hits such as "We Go Together," "Greased Lightening," "Summer Nights" and "Beauty School Dropout." Performers should prepare a 1950s rock 'n' roll-style song and a short monologue. Music should be 48 to 72 measures and show the performer's range. An accompaniment will be provided. Auditioners should bring sheet music in their key or a CD karaoke track to sing with. Auditions are by appointment and can be made by calling 244-8680, ext. 24. Dance call and callbacks will be held on Dec. 7 and/or Dec. 8. "Grease" rehearsals will begin in mid-January with the production running Feb. 24 through Mar. 11. For more information visit mauionstage.com.