It has been quite the eclectic season for Kihei's ProArts. Producer Jonathan Lehman has offered a slate of sophisticated but slightly obscure plays.
ProArts concludes its 2011-12 season with the 1960s black comedy, "and Miss Reardon Drinks A Little," by Paul Zindel. Zindel has been compared to Tennessee Williams, and his subject matter tends to revolve around dysfunctional families with an abysmal status in life.
His work, however, has won Tonys, a Pulitzer Prize and received Oscar nominations. Critics of his heyday describe Zindel's writing as lyrical, powerful, real and funny. His most famous work, "The Effect of Gamma-Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds," received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1971. A film version was produced and directed by Paul Newman the following year and starred Newman's wife, actress Joanne Woodward. Zindel also holds the distinction of having three books, his "The Pigman" book series, on the American Library Association's Top 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books.
The cast of Pro Arts’ production of “Miss Reardon Drinks A Little” includes Martha Siefken (from left to right), Lisa Teichner, Andy Howansky, Sarah Loney, Nathan Galusky, Kristi Scott and Jett Batoon.
Photo courtesy of ProArts
"Miss Reardon" made its Broadway debut the same year as "Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds," making Zindel to toast of the town in 1971. Its original cast was one of the most capable and star studded in Broadway history, including four-time Tony winner Julie Harris; Oscar-winner Estelle Parsons (TV show mom of "Roseanne," "Bonnie and Clyde"); three-time Emmy and Golden Globe winner Nancy Marchand (Tony Soprano's mom); Rae Allen (original cast of "Damn Yankees" and George Costanza's unemployment counselor); and Bill Macy (original cast of "Oh, Calcutta" and Maude's husband). Parsons and Allen both won Tony Awards in 1971 for their performances in "Miss Reardon"
The black comedy explores the relationship between three sisters after the death of their mother. Catherine (Kristi Scott), Ceil (Martha Siefken) and Anna Reardon (Sarah Loney) are all employees of the Staten Island school district. Anna becomes a chemistry teacher, Catherine is an assistant principal and Ceil is the superintendent. Catherine and Anna are living together following the death of their mother.
Several months of caring for the sick mother, only to see her pass, causes Anna to suffer a severe nervous breakdown. She becomes a hypochondriac, who is obsessed with animals and rabies, and is on an extended break from the school for allegedly molesting a male student.
Ceil chose to have no contact with the family while her mother was suffering, and ran off to marry Catherine's boyfriend, Edward Adams. Catherine, in response, chooses instead to "drink a little," which means a lot. Ceil has now returned for a family dinner (zucchini and kiwi) to encourage Catherine to have Anna committed. Half-way through, Fleur Stein (Lisa Teichner) invades the family meal wishing to coheres Mrs. Adams for a raise.
I sat down with Lisa Teichner earlier this week to find out more about this lesser known play. "This is not a conventional play," said Teichner.
"It has an arc and it's in chronological order, but it's more of a slice of life. It's not wrapped in a pretty bow at the end."
When asked about Zindel's quirky scripts and odd characters, she offered, "They're all very distinct characters, they're all great roles and I think that is why so many talented actors have played his roles. They each have a rhythm, they're cynical and sarcastic. I wasn't using a dialect at first, but once I added it in, my character came alive. I think his roles need that."
Interestingly, most of Zindel's stories take place on Staten Island, his lifetime home and where he is buried. I asked her if there is a secret to playing black comedy. "All comedy comes from truth so it has to be real. Sometimes you laugh with a character, in this case, you're laughing at the expense of a character. Sarah Loney has a fantastic approach to Anna for one. She brings out the comedy by playing her more crazy as opposed to dark and depressed. It's a finer line between the comedy and the tragedy, if you go too far it's just sad. Either way, I think people will be affected by this show and that's good theater."
ProArts, Inc. presents "And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little" by Paul Zindel and directed by Mark Collmer. It opens Friday and runs through June 3 at ProArts Playhouse. The Maui cast includes Kristi Scott, Martha Siefken, Sarah Loney, Andy Howansky, Lisa Teichner, Jett Batoon, and Nathan Galusky. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays. There will be no performance this Sunday. Ask about ProArts Kama'aina Nights this Saturday and Thursdays May 24 and 31. The tiickets are $20 for adults, and $15 for students 18 and younger. For reservations or more information, call 463-6550 or visit proartspacific.com.
Also this weekend
"Side Shows: A Festival of One-Act Plays" by Seabury Hall Performing Arts, ends its season with its 17th annual Side Shows, a wild array of 10 plays in 10 minutes or less! This year's crop of plays includes pieces by professional contemporary playwright David Ives, local author Paul Wood, and Seabury student playwright Laura Mayron. This year, adult directors Alan Hodara, Tina Kailiponi, Marsha Kelly, Kay McLeod, Ryan Walsh, and Scott Winham are joined by student directors Celina Bekins, Ryan Noufer, and Gregory Saydah. "The one-act festival has proven to be an ideal experience for students and audiences!" says Co-Festival director Todd Van Amburgh. Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Seabury Hall Performing Arts Studio. Tickets are adults $9, seniors $8, students $4. For more information and reservations, call 573-1257.
The Maui Academy of Performing Arts presents a free public performance of its educational theatre tour spring show, "Eh Cuz, We Call Dem Slippahs," on Saturday at the Steppingstone Playhouse in Queen Ka'ahumanu Center in Kahului.
This warm-hearted musical, with upbeat original songs and age-appropriate humor, shares an important lesson about accepting differences and overcoming cultural prejudices. Performed by husband-and-wife Ricky and Hoku Pavao Jones, the 40-minute live play is intended for students up to fifth grade.
"We Call Dem Slippahs" is one of many original plays written for MAPA by talented local playwright Derek Nakagawa since 1992, including MAPA's recent smash-hit "Lesser Ahi." Francis Tau'a, also seen recently in "Lesser Ahi," directs.
Performances are at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Saturday. For more information, you may call 244-8760 or visit mauiacademy.org.
The "Maui Fringe Festival 2012," sponsored by Whole Foods Market in Kahului, runs May 24 though 27 at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku.
The 2012 original one-act performances include "Last of Eleven" by Jaene Leonard; "Payday at Pukalani" by Margery Kreitman; "Pride and Joy" by Paul Rudnick; "Reflections" by Joel Agnew; Power Up Comedy; glow-in-the-dark burlesque by the Ultraviolets; excerpts from "My Mama Monologues" and "Lesser Ahi;" "The Seven Deadly Sins" with Brian Connolly and Jason Strahn; plus performances by Vinnie Linares, Jor-El Elkin, J. Marc Mance and the King Kekaulike Dramaticians.
Additional 2012 events are two all-inclusive gala parties and live late-night music by Maui Underground and special guests. Limited edition passes entitle the holder to attend every performance and party with a guest for the price of $50. Tickets for individual performances are available at the door for $10.
To buy a Maui Fringe Festival pass call 242-6969. Or you may browse the complete Maui Fringe Festival online schedule at mauionstage.com.
Award winning teacher-choreographer David Ward will conduct a 2012 Summer Dance Intensive workshop with the assistance of Seabury alumnus Kelsey Greenway May 28 through June 1 at the Seabury Hall Dance Studio above Makawao town.
The workshop is open to dancers of all ages and abilities. Enjoy this creative dance intensive with one of Hawaii's most successful dance-makers. David Ward is a six-time High School Drame Club Choreographic Award recipient, who in 1999 received the prestigious SFCA Individual Artist Fellowship.
Classes are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday though Friday. Early registration is $160 (before May 25), or $180 if after. Mail payments and make checks payable to David Ward 480 Olinda Road, Makawao, HI 96768.
For more details, call Ward at 269-2410 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.