Each Maui theater company inevitably strikes artistic gold with at least one production a year. For some reason, all the pieces just fall into place and a near perfect show with a near perfect cast emerges.
Maui OnStage may have bigger financial hits this season, but "Shout!: The Mod Musical" is a marvelous piece of cabaret. My hunch is it will not have the box office boom of their past spring musicals like "Cats" and "Grease," but in my opinion, "Shout!" is much more entertaining. This production may be a bit too cosmopolitan for Maui, but if this cast was performing in Las Vegas or the Caribbean, I could easily see it running at a resort or on a cruise ship for several months if not longer.
"Shout!" has been described as a musical episode of "Sex and the City." I think it bears more resemblance to "Absolutely Fabulous." I half expected Patsy and Edina to stumble in late on opening night with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, muttering "sweetie, darling."
Felicia Chernicki (from left), Alison Mikes, Danielle Delaunay, Jonna Ahn and Lina Aiko Krueger of “Shout!: The Mod Musical” will continue to get their groove on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through March 17 at the Historic Iao Theater.
JACK GRACE photo
From its opening number, featuring a very clever technical surprise involving Union Jack umbrellas, "Shout!" hits the ground running. The cast of five tremendously talented women (Jonna Ahn, Felicia Chernicki, Danielle Delauney, Lina Aiko Krueger and Alison Holmes Mikes) wow the crowd as a quintet of powerhouse songsters, but each takes a turn with fantastic solo moments as well.
Chernicki (the nerdy Red Girl), offers an inspired rendition of "To Sir With Love." Another of my favorite act one moments was Mikes' (the slightly unhinged Yellow Girl), belting version of "Son of a Preacher Man." It's a show-stopper in every sense of the word.
The absolutely fabulous act one moment follows a very funny scene when the fab five gals try marijuana. What happens next is an impeccable harmonic version of the James Bond theme and two captivating performances of classic Bond tunes, "Goldfinger," sung by Krueger (the "bit of a slut" Green Girl) and "Diamonds Are Forever" sung by Ahn (the sexually ambiguous Blue Girl). As I watched Krueger, I couldn't help but think of Dame Shirley Bassey's recent performance at the Oscars. In many ways, Krueger's take on the song was superior. Ahn's dress, combined with the mesmerizing lighting effect (designed by Mark Collmer), and her amazing voice made for one of the finest singular stage moments of the year thus far.
Sarah Loney's costumes are exemplary. I overheard a few baby boomers at intermission say, "I used to own that" and "that was my wardrobe." Because "Shout!" is more akin to a concert with comedy, I must also single out the incredibly tight, session quality trio of William Asher (keyboards), Anne Durham (keyboards) and Perry Gragas (percussion).
In the second act, Dalauney (the newly liberated Orange Girl), gets her "oh, wow" moment on "You're My World," joined by Ahn in a duet that was the equal of any musical moment that you may loved from 2011's "Chicago." The revue hits its crescendo on "Those Were They Days," lead by Chernicki, followed by the entire cast - and eventually the audience got into the act. The "Shout!" audience claps along, stands up to dance and even sings at times.
"Shout! has so much feel good in it that it makes Ladies Night at Casanova's seem like the Chicken Dance at a Romney wedding. First-time director Kalani Whitford has assembled an immensely joyous production worthy of the highest praise and on par with something one might expect to see on tour at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
* "Shout!: The Mod Musical," continues through March 17. Show will begin at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays at the Historic Iao Theater. The show is co-created by Phillip George and David Lowenstein, directed by Kalani Whitford and starring Jonna Ahn, Felicia Chernicki, Alison Mikes, Lina Aiko Krueger and Danielle Delaunay. Reserved seating tickets range from $17 to $28 and dinner packages are available with the Old Wailuku Grill. For tickets or more information, call 242-6969 or purchase online at www.mauionstage.com.
Also this week
The ProArts hit comedy "Lend Me a Tenor" has been extended through March 15 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Reserved seating tickets are $20. Ask about the ProArts $17.50 kamaaina discount nights (with valid Hawaii ID). For reservations or more information, call 463-6550 or visit www.proartspacific.com.
The Baldwin High School production of "The Miracle Worker," by William Gibson and directed by Linda Carnevale, continues through Sunday. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 5 p.m. Sundays in the Loudon Mini-Theatre at the back of the Baldwin High School campus. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 students 17 and younger, available at the box office only 45 minutes prior to show time.
There will also be Gala Night dessert and silent auction fundraiser this Saturday at the Starlight Cafe at the Loudon Mini-Theatre. Gala ticket prices are $18 for adults; $16 students 11 to 17; and $10 children 10 and yonger, which includes a ticket to the show, early seating, pre-show entertainment, desserts and beverages. Doors open at 6:30 for ticket holders to this special event. Proceeds from the silent auction will go towards scholarships for the theatre seniors. For reservations for the gala only, call 984-5656, ext. 315.
The King Kekaulike High School beginning acting production of "Up the Down Staircase" by Christopher Sergel, based on the book the book by Bel Kaufman, and directed by Chris Kepler, continues through Sunday. Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sunday in the King Kekaulike cafetorium. Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 students, available at the door a half hour before the show.
Maui OnStage continues its free theater series, ONO! on Monday with "Suburbia" by Eric Bogosian. This edgy play about young adults "hangin' out" and causing trouble at the local 7-11 stars Jeff Brackett, Dylan Bode, Sharleen Lagattuta, Nick Batres, Jessica Lauren, Eric Peterson, Patty Sylva, Hoku Pavao Jones and Rueben Carrion. "Suburbia" contains strong language and mature subject matter and is not appropriated for children. The free ONO! performances begin at 6:30 p.m. every second Monday of the month at the Historic Iao Theater.
The Maui Academy of Performing Arts will hold auditions for the stage musical "Les Miserables," to be directed by David C. Johnston with musical direction by Robert E. Wills. Auditions will be scheduled in 10-minute intervals from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on March 22 at the MAPA building in Wailuku; from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 23 at Steppingstone Playhouse in Queen Ka'ahumanu Center; and from 5 to 9:30 p.m. March 27 at Steppingstone Playhouse.
In addition to an acting ensemble that will perform all on-stage roles, MAPA is also seeking off-stage chorus singers for the large group numbers. All roles are available.
Actors auditioning for leading roles should prepare specific songs from the production. For a complete list of songs, visit the MAPA website. Sheet music for the songs is available starting today, and an accompanist will be provided at the auditions. All songs will be performed in their original key. No adjustments will be made to raise or lower pitch. All performers should bring a headshot and resume and arrive 15 minutes before their audition slot.
Tentative performance dates for "Les Miserables" are Aug. 15 through 25. For more information about the production, call 244-8760 or visit www.mauiacademy.org.
To schedule a 10-minute audition slot, call Production Coordinator Tina Kailiponi at 244-8760, ext. 224 or email email@example.com.
Kauai Shorts is seeking entries for its annual 10-minute play festival. The plays will be selected by a panel of judges, and the audience will vote on their favorites. Original works may be submitted via email attachment now through April 1 to romeycurtis@aol. Plays that have been professionally produced are ineligible. Simple short plays with small casts are recommended. Performances will be at the Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center August 9 through 11.