"This is actually my fifth time directing 'Godspell,' " said Alexis Dascoulias. "I've directed it once for a high school, two other times for professional companies, and then at Maui OnStage back in 2010."
Dascoulias, who has been directing the Kamehameha Maui student productions for the past two years, will bring the classic Stephen Schwartz musical to the stage this weekend.
"I love this musical because regardless of what people think, it is not about religion, it's really about faith - faith in humanity and faith in each other."
The show began as Schwartz's Masters Thesis project at Carnegie Mellon University. The student cast then took on a 10-performance run at Cafe la Mama in New York City in 1971. Shortly thereafter it was produced Off-Broadway, where it ran for almost five years, before finally moving to Broadway in 1976. At the time, Schwartz was just 23 years old, and labeled as Broadway's new wunderkind. One year later he was working with Bob Fosse on the Tony Award-winning "Pippin," which along with "Godspell" went on to become Top 10 albums on the Billboard charts as well. Ironically, still just 25 year old, Schwartz would not have another blockbuster hit show until 2003 with "Wicked."
"My first experience with 'Godspell' was in 1992 when I played the role that sang 'Day By Day' in an outdoor summer arts festival," shared Dascoulias.
The show features an ensemble cast singing, dancing and acting out the parables from the gospel St. Matthew.
"All the parables are about doing what is right. They are stories that are part of our culture today, The Prodigal's Son, Beatitudes, The Unjust Judge - they are stories that are still used today. And the music in Godspell is just perfect, upbeat, pop-like tunes with a few songs that allow the audience to reflect as well."
"Godspell" allows each director a great deal of freedom in casting, and aside from the rights, it is an incredibly affordable show to produce. A cast might simply wear their own jeans and T-shirts, and generally speaking, it does not require a set. I asked Dascoulias what new twist she had in store this time around.
"Gender didn't really come into play with regards to casting or who was singing what song. Kaili Mossman is playing Judas. Yes, that's right, a girl playing Judas. Kaili was our top choice and honestly, once we started rehearsal, the subject of her being female hardly came up.
"In addition, Ryan Foree is playing a role that is typically played by a girl. Every time I direct 'Godspell,' it's different because the cast brings so much to the show. This is the first time that the cast has brought contemporary seasonings to the show, and I have no idea what they are referring to. When we go to insert a contemporary song or pop culture reference, I have no idea what they are talking about, which just proves that I am getting old. But the story and music of 'Godspell' is not."
* The Kamehameha Maui High School Drama Club will present "Godspell," with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and storyline based on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew. It is directed by Alexis Dascoulias, with musical direction by Tana Larson and choreography by Erin Kowalick. Performances are free and begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday and at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Keopuolani Hale on the school's campus.
Also this week
The ProArts hit comedy "Lend Me a Tenor" by Ken Ludwig and directed by Lisa Teichner has been extended through Friday at ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. The two final performances begin at 7:30 tonight and Friday. 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.
Don't miss the final performances of Maui OnStage's "Shout!: The Mod Musical," co-created by Phillip George and David Lowenstein, continuing through March 17. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays at the Historic Iao Theater. Reserved seating tickets range from $17 to $28; dinner packages are available with Old Wailuku Grill. For tickets or more information, call 242-6969 or purchase online at www.mauionstage.com.
Catch Maui Academy of Performing Arts' "Red Carpet Mystery," a murder-mystery affair from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday at the King Kamehameha Golf Club in Waikapu. Mix and mingle with your fellow celebrities, directors, agents, has-beens, and up-and-comers, where secrets will be revealed, scandals uncovered and a murder will be committed.
There are several sponsor table options for up to 10 people ranging from $1,350 to $5,000. Individual tickets cost $160, which includes two drink tickets and a dinner buffet. Hollywood party attire is suggested. For tickets or more information, call 244-8760 or visit www.mauiacademy.org.
Maui Academy of Performing Arts' advanced play production students present "Lockdown" by Julia Edwards and directed by Sally Sefton.
It's just another typical day in the local high school library until a siren sounds, the doors automatically lock, and the students discover they are trapped. Without knowing what caused the lockdown, a diverse group of high school students are forced to deal with each other in very real ways that strip away stereotypes governing the school's social structure.
"Lockdown" opens March 22 and runs weekends through March 30. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with one Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. March 24 at Steppingstone Playhouse in Queen Ka'ahumanu Center.
* Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for seniors and students (18 and younger), available by calling 244-8760, online at www.mauiacademy.org or by visiting the Customer Service Kiosk at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center.
Kumu Kahua Theatre presents "Fishing for Wives" by Edward Sakamoto at 7:30 p.m. March 22 and 23 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's McCoy Studio Theater. "Fishing for Wives" is a comedy of errors over a mail-order bride mix-up. Set in 1913, two Hawaiian fishermen realize they have women problems. Lonely and bored with catching fish, Nishi sends for a picture bride from Japan, but sneaks a photo of his handsome friend Aoki in his place. The bride arrives and falls in love with the wrong man, setting off a classic battle of the sexes.
* General admission tickets are $22 (plus applicable fees), available at the MACC box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org.
Bill Cosby will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. March 29 at Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater. A national treasure of comedy, television, literature and the recording arts, Cosby's career has spanned five decades in virtually all media. In the '60s, his stand-up act was a coast-to-coast sensation, spawning a string of hilarious, best-selling comedy albums, which went on to win five Grammy Awards. His role on TV's "I Spy" made him the first African-American to co-star in a dramatic series, breaking television's racial barrier and winning three Emmy Awards. In the 1980s, he again rocked the TV world with "The Cosby Show," a hugely successful series that single-handedly revived the family sitcom.
* Tickets are $45, $55, $75, $85, $115 (plus applicable fees), available at the MACC box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org.
Kamp Krazy Tales returns for spring break! The "Drama Queen," Kristi Scott, and ProArts present a great drama Kamp for the keiki of Kihei next week. Classes will be held from 9 a.m. to noon daily, Monday through March 22, at the ProArts Playhouse. Kamp Krazy Tales is for children ages 5 to 10-plus. Tuition is $125 with an extended two-hour session available for $75. Students will learn fun drama games culminating with a short performance for parents. Pre-registration is required. For details, call ProArts at 463-6550.