As each high school theater program prepares for the end of another school year, we witness talented seniors performing one final time and talented underclassmen performing in larger roles for the first time.
The tributes drama instructors present for their seniors are quite touching for the families and the audience. But that moment belongs to the seniors themselves. Seabury Hall offered its 23rd Annual Dance Showcase over the past two weekends, which was also their final performance in the Performing Arts Studio.
Next year, Seabury will open its new state of the art Creative Arts Center. The three-act showcase presented several popular pieces from its Christmas Performing Arts Concert with several new works as well.
Dancers Ariella Brandon and Kelsey Greenway
ERIC ROLPH photo
I was particularly impressed with senior Kelsey Greenway's student work "Shattered By Bones." Greenway created the original choreography set to "Shirk" by Me'Shell Ndegeocello featuring dancers Ariella Brandon, Isabelle Olivet and Heather Kelsey and herself.
"Fusion Funkbot," a hip-hop work by guest choreographers Tito and Meghan Reyes was another favorite of mine. Level C dancer Heather Kelsey had a fantastic solo moment in the ensemble number and I look forward to seeing more from her in future Seabury performances.
Although the dance showcase is about the students, it was a real treat to see the professional quality of instructors Vanessa Cerrito and David Ward tango in the piece "Tango Y, No." The third act, framed as "Velvet Voices," offered several memorable works, my two favorites being Cerrito's "Fever," sung by Peggy Lee and performed by the Ballet III dancers Morgan Armitage, Malia Block, Celia Boone, Julia Crespo, Lana Lobato-Aljader, Jordan Priest, Olivia Olivet and Ella Wall.
Ward's "Route 66," to recorded music by Manhattan Transfer, was a delight to watch as well with what seemed like "Mad Men" inspired costumes by Cerrito and Andre Morissette.
The light hearted number was performed by the Level C dancers Morgan Armitage, Laurel Bicker, Malia Brooch. Julia Crespo, Gaby Diaz, Danielle Erdman, Hail Hayes, Anna Kali-Deiss, Heather Kelsey, Lana Lobato-Aljader, Olivia Olivet, Kate Pearson, Emily Pluchos, Jordan Priest and Kara Termulo.
Not to take anything away from the other high schools, but when it comes to dance Seabury Hall is in a class of its own. Despite bidding a fond farewell to Greenway, Gregory Saydah and Mele Smallwood, Seabury is well stocked for future seasons of performance art in their new facility.
Baldwin High's International Thespian Troupe No. 3135 presented "Play On!" as its annual show at the Loudon Mini Theater. Each year, a limited number of students may pledge to become a part of this honored society and only the most dedicated of students may participate in the annual performance.
"Play On!" is a farcical play within a play about a problematic acting troupe with a problematic script. Everything that can go wrong inevitably does, and the audience howls with laughter.
Director Linda Carnevale directs her talented students in this complicated play that requires a great deal of comic timing. The secret to portraying bad actors, dancers, and singers for optimal comedic effect is to be able to do it well first. The ensemble cast does a superb job in appearing to not know what they are doing and Saturday night's audience laughed nonstop throughout the show.
Seniors Julianna Scharnhorst and Kenny Komatsu again shine at playing the big, over-the-top caricatures we have seen from them in the past. Scharnhorst is very funny as the overbearing and slightly clueless playwright. Komatsu gets some of the best laughs of the night, first by sarcastically mocking his cast mates and then playing a really good drunken actor in the third act.
Playing a character that is playing a character in a show is not easy. Line memorization can be extremely difficult with a "show within a show." The Baldwin Thespians did an exceptional job with "Play On!," one of the best pure comedy high school productions I've seen. I was also very impressed with the performance.
Sophomores TJ Idemoto, Justyn Haywood and Kaitlin Thompson all appear ready for leading roles in the very near future. The Baldwin seniors get one last chance to play this weekend at Baldwin variety show where students and alumni perform together.
* The Performing Arts Learning Center and Baldwin High Theater Guild present their third annual "Variety Show Extravaganza" at the Baldwin High School Loudon Mini-Theatre. Performances are Friday to May 13, weekends. the shows are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 5 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $10 adults, $8 seniors, and $7 ages 17 and younger. The box office opens one hour before show time. For more information call 984-5656 x315.
On Sunday, I attended King Kekaulike's annual musical "Huckleberry Finn." Generally thought of as the drama with a message program, if KKHS has a message to offer for this production, it is to laugh and have fun. The ensemble piece features a cast of 32, 14 of whom are seniors. Guest choreographer Lia Krieg does a wonderful job in creating simple comical choreography particularly on "Looey the Seventeen." Josh Berman plays con man, the King, who claims to be the surviving son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Berman is hysterical as he dances around with severed heads with the help of the Duke (Shawn Naone-Burger), Huck (Levi Young) and Tom Sawyer (Dylan Thomas).
Young and Thomas have a great chemistry together, likely forged from performing together at KKHS for the past four years.
Although musicals may be a bit out of their comfort zone, their choices of character singing in a sing-song patter works well. Eventually, the Duke concocts the idea of presenting the foursome as a Shakespearean theater company with the "The Theatah!" and Huck and Tom are enlisted to play Juliet and her nurse. As a result, a horrific performance inspires the audience to run the boys out of town and a classic Keystone Kops chase scene ensues.
Director Chris Kepler's choice to score the chase with Boots Randoph's "Yakety Sax" (theme to "Benny Hill"), was a hysterical edition to the scene as the first act came to a close.
The second act finds the four on a new con pretending to be relatives of a deceased wealthy man. Of course, the dearly departed has three pretty daughters, the Wilks sisters, two of whom (Rachel Simmons and Katarina Kress), happen to take a shine to Huck and Tom.
I was very impressed by the singing voice of senior Fiona Weiss as Mary Jane Wilks. Weiss is a fine dramatic actress as well but after hearing her sing I hope that she pursues musicals in the future. There are several strong musical numbers in "Huckleberry Finn" but the most fun the cast seemed to have is when the seniors came out for their curtain call, goofing off and playing as they sang a reprise of "The Theatah!"
* "Huckleberry Finn" continues though Saturday. The performances are at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the King Kekaulike cafetorium. Tickets are available at the door only one half hour before the show. Cost is $8 for adults, and $4 students.
Also this weekend
"Lesser Ahi," created by Francis Tau'a and Derek Nakagawa and directed by David C. Johnston, continues through Saturday. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Steppingstone Playhouse in Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. Tickets are $16 adults, $14 seniors, and $12 students. For reservations or more information call 244-8760 or visit mauiacademy.org.
"On Golden Pond" by Ernest Thompson at the Historic Iao Theater continues through Sunday. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 3 p.m, Sunday. Tickets are $40, $22, and $15. Dinner packages are available with Caf O'Lei and Bistro Casanova. For reservations or more information call 242-6969 or visit mauionstage.com.
Back by popular demand, Power Up Comedy Presents "The Don Barnhart Comedy Hypnosis Show," Sunday at Stella Blues Caf. It's part stand up, part improv, part hypnosis and full of funny! His last show on Maui was a sold out show so make sure to get your tickets in advance. Performances are a G-rated family show at 8 p.m. followed by an R-rated adult show at 10 p.m. Tickets are $20 at the door, or $15 in advance For more details or to purchase tickets, visit powerupcomedy.com.
Maui Academy of Performing Arts presents its annual "Spring Extravaganza," dance showcase this weekend in Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. This Saturday's show opens with a 3 p.m. revue featuring dancers of all ages strutting their stuff in jazz, tap, contemporary and hip-hop. Saturday evening brings "Moves," an extraordinary performance of original choreography at 7:30 p.m.. On Sunday at 3 p.m., over 200 MAPA ballerinas will dazzle the audience in the whimsical ballet, "Alice in Wonderland." Tickets are $12. To purchase, call 242-7469 or visit the online website at mauiarts.org. For more information call 244-8760 or visit mauiacademy.org.
VIP passes are available now through May 15 for the "Maui Fringe Festival 2012," to be held May 24 through 27. The 2012 participants include three California productions, original Maui plays, Power Up Comedy, the Ultraviolets, excerpts of "My Mama Monologues," and performances by Vinnie Linares, Brian Connolly and the King Kekaulike Dramaticians. Additional 2012 events include two all inclusive gala parties and live late night music. You get to attend every performance and party with a guest for $50. Call Maui OnStage at 244-8680.
Maui OnStage is holding auditions for the musical "The Producers" by Mel Brooks on Monday and Tuesday at the Historic Iao Theater. All performers should bring a head shot and resume and prepare a three-minute audition segment of either two contrasting songs, or a song and brief monologue. An accompanist will be provided. Bring sheet music in your key or a CD karaoke track. Auditions are by appointment only. Call 244-8680 ext 24. A dance call will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday May 10, and a reading callback will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday May 12. Visit mauionstage.com.