I've never been much of a Science Fiction and Fantasy fan. I fell asleep during "The Lord of the Rings" and hated "Avatar." However, for some reason I've always loved C.S. Lewis' tales of Narnia. Growing up Catholic, Lewis' Narnia was church-approved fantasy, so that may have had something to do with it. It doesn't take a genius to see the Christ metaphor in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."
Lewis described Aslan the Lion as "an alternative version of Jesus as the form in which Christ might have appeared in an alternative reality." I met with the director of the Maui Academy of Performing Arts upcoming "Narnia" production, Sally Sefton and acting teacher, Francis Tau'a last week. Sefton shared another Lewis quote with me. "I'm on Aslan's side, even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia."
"The analogy is apparent to everyone," said Sefton. "Even the younger kids recognize it, the theme of the story is really about forgiveness," added Tau'a. Sefton continued that thought: "Aslan is the key figure, by example, in allowing the children to forgive Edmund's betrayal, and Edmund needs to forgive himself too."
The Pevensie kids (from left) Lucy (Erica Jernaill), Susan (Arianna Glauser), Peter (Shane Borge) and Edmund (Nathan Sullivan) step through the wardrobe into Narnia as the White Witch (Sydney Roberts), the Dwarf (Isaac Rauch) and Aslan (Joshua Berman) look on in MAPA’s production of the C.S. Lewis classic at Steppingstone Playhouse.
DAVID HESSEMER photo
For the past three weeks, Sefton and Tau'a have been bringing "Narnia" to life working with 52 performers from age 12 to 20 at the MAPA teen summer musical theatre camp. "What happens during the process of building a show and what's happening behind the scenes is more important than the show. This camp is more about helping the kids develop as human beings, and 'Narnia' is a perfect life lesson of how the purity of good can overcome even the most desperate darkness," said Sefton.
"It takes a team," said Tau'a, "but in the end they (the kids) need to take on some artistic responsibility." Sefton added, "The goal is appealing to their desire for a good show. They want the same thing as Francis and I, a great show. When they all focus on the same goal it's not difficult to keep the attention of 52 young people."
I asked Sefton how she found room for 52 people on stage at the Steppingstone. "We're using lots of levels, and they're not all on stage at the same time except for the battle scenes," she said. "We're using the cat walks, actors may enter from behind you, so as an audience member you'll want to keep looking all around the theater."
For those unfamiliar with "Narnia," it is the charming tale of four displaced brothers and sisters removed from the bombing of London for their safety during WWII. In one of the rooms at the country estate where they've relocated, is a magical wardrobe where the children escape to an alternative world of talking beavers, badgers, mice, wolves and Aslan the Lion. Father Christmas makes an appearance too, and a final battle royale ensues between the forces of good and evil.
Much of the tale was inspired by Lewis' real life memories. At the age of seven, he moved with his family into a large house in Belfast. Its long hallways and empty rooms inspired Lewis and his brother to invent make-believe worlds. During the war thousands of children were evacuated from London and several children, including his real life goddaughter Lucy, stayed with him at his home near Oxford.
I can't help but pose the metaphor that the Steppingstone is now the wardrobe and it will soon be transporting children of all ages from the world of two-for-one footwear and hot dogs on a stick to magical Narnia.
* "Narnia" opens Friday June 29 and runs through July 8. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays at the Steppingstone Playhouse Tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for students 18 and younger. For tickets, visit mauiacademy.org, call 244-8760 or purchase at the customer service kiosk at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center.
Maui's own Power Up Comedy presents a live stand up comedy CD recording show at Stella Blues on Saturday. The popular comedy troupe invites you to come and be part of their first comedy recording. Tickets are for the 10 p.m. performance are $10 online or $15 at the door. To purchase tickets in advance, visit powerupcomedy.com. The recorded show will feature Power Up comics Jason Strahn, Doc Titanium, Sunny Dennis, Corky Gardner, Teresa Sickels, Doug Wyckoff and Chino LaForge.
Come enlist at the "Hollywood Swing Canteen," a 1940's style cabaret variety show with the "Sirens of Song" Casey Murphy, Lia Krieg, Jonna Ahn and Nara Boone, Friday June 29 at the Maui Tropical Plantation. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., cabaret show 7:30 to 9:30 with swing dancing to follow until 11 p.m. Additional performers include the Kit Kat Club, Trevor Arnholt, visuals by Doug DeBoer, and scintillating sounds from maestro Scott Provonsha. The event features two full-service bars, catering by A Kat Kreations and a pinup parade fashion show. Tickets are $15 with limited reserved table seating available for $25 per person. Advance tickets may be purchased online at hollywoodswing.eventbrite.com or at the door.
Comedian Mike Epps will be in performance at the Castle Theater 7:30 p.m. Saturday June 30. Known for his quick wit and ability to blend hip hop with comedy, Epps hosted both the 2009 and 2010 BET Hip Hop Awards. He has also appeared in the films "All About the Benjamins," "Roll Bounce," "Guess Who," "The Honeymooners," "Hancock," and as Black Doug in "The Hangover." This performance is intended for mature audiences. Tickets are $25, $45, $55, and $65, plus applicable fees. To purchase tickets visit the MACC box office, call 242-7469 or order online at mauiarts.org.
Two additional performances have been added for "Wicked," at 2 p.m. on Thursday December 27 and at 7:30 p.m. on Monday January 14, 2013. The national tour will be in Honolulu for a limited eight-week touring engagement November 24 through January 16, 2013. "Wicked" will have eight performances per week at the Blaisdell Concert Hall, Tuesdays through Sundays. To purchase tickets for call (808) 593-2468 or visit magicspace.net/wicked.
Maui OnStage presents the Maui premiere of "The Producers" by Mel Brooks, directed by Jennifer Rose, choreographed by Camille Romero and under the musical direction of Stephen Haynes. This Broadway mega-hit broke all Tony award records winning 12 in 2001. The hilarious musical features a cast of 32 of Maui's most talented musical theater performers including Laura Cole, Steven Dascoulias, Francis Tau'a, Kalani Whitford, Dale Button, Joyce Romero, Mark Bolden, Charles Cook, Dylan Bode, Ellen Peterson, Felicia Chernicki, and Jason Wolf. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Sundays at the Historic Iao Theater. All-new reserved seating tickets are $15 to $28. Dinner packages are available with Bistro Casanova. For tickets or more information, call 242-6969 or purchase online at mauionstage.com.