On Saturday, Maui OnStage will begin a new youth theater program helmed by veteran theater instructor Ricky Jones. Jones will work along side fellow educators Alexis Dascoulias, Steven Dascoulias, Erin Kowalick and Brett Wulfson in producing and directing "The Story of Orange" by Vernise Pelzel. He is also active in Maui Academy of Performing Arts youth theater, and serves as director of its current educational theater tour, "Return of the Menehune" by Derek Nakagawa.
We met last week and I asked what prompted him to start the new program.
"I wanted to bring more opportunity for children to perform in a main stage theatrical production," explains Jones. "The kids will also be constructing puppets, and working on costumes and the set. We'll try to have them do as much as possible, or at least have a hand in creating every aspect of the show."
Meet Ricky Jones
Dancers in the men’s division perform during a past Ku Mai Ka Hula competition. Catch the eighth annual event Sept. 14 at Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
RICHARD MARKS photo
Jones will serve as a Jack-of-all-trades, as well as direct; Steven Dascoulias will teach music; Kowalick will teach dance; Wulfson will serve as an acting coach and assist the kids in creating props, puppets and set painting; and Alexis Dascoulias, the Jill-of-all-trades, will assist in directing.
Jones has been working in educational theater for the past 17 years in Louisville, Ky., and all over California and Hawaii. He'll have quite the busy fall, as he's also directing the Maui OnStage holiday production of "Scrooge - the Musical." I asked if directing two shows at the same time was intimidating.
"It's not so much that - it's directing two shows, plus a new baby."
Ricky and his wife, actress Hoku Pavao Jones, are expecting their first child, a boy, in two weeks.
"A baby is always a juggling act with work. I know both shows and their sets well, so I can combine the work and think of things that will work for both shows. Thankfully, the children's rehearsals are just a few days a week."
OnSTAGE, a theater workshop for 9 to 13-year-olds starts at 5 p.m. Saturday, with a meet-and-greet session at the Historic Iao Theater. Classes will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays; and 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays.
I asked what "The Story of Orange" was all about.
"Zebras are born with orange stripes and then they become black. Orange's stripes never changed, and he is accepted by all the animals just as he is. When humans move into the community, they laugh at him. The character is also an artist that paints abstract images, and the humans dislike the art too, so Orange begins to doubt himself and gets depressed."
The author, Vernise Pelzel, who is also an educator, got the idea when a young student drew a picture of an orange zebra.
Ricky appeared in the second production of "The Story of Orange" at the age of 11, and continued to act in productions of "Orange" in multiple cities throughout California for the next four years. At age 17, he returned to work on another production of "Orange" with Pelzel. The two have maintained a friendship over the years, and Jones had always wanted to present and direct the show on Maui.
"I think the Maui community will like it," he said.
In the second act, Orange is visited by a fairy godmother, the Sunbow Fairy, who emerges from a pool of his tears and takes him on a journey around the world, where Orange learns of different cultures and that life and art have much in common.
"We paint our lives by our response to the world, and all lands for living are within us," says the Sunbow Fairy, and Orange accepts himself as he is.
* "The Story of Orange," directed by Ricky Jones, will be performed at 2 p.m. Dec. 7 and 14. Tuition for this 12-week workshop is $175. For more information or to register, call 244-8680 or visit www.mauionstage.com.
Celebrate with Maui Academy of Performing Arts at the Garden Party's Silver Anniversary on the beautiful shady lawn of the Yokouchi Family Estate in Wailuku, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Enjoy Broadway-caliber entertainment, a chef's festival with gourmet cuisine from Maui restaurants, fine wines, locally brewed beer, live jazz, a silent auction, and Fresh Art - art created on-site that will be sold at the live auction. Proceeds benefit MAPA's educational performing arts programs. Tickets are $75 in advance or $85 the day of the event. The Garden Party is a 21 and older event. For tickets, call 244-8760.
Catch "Dance For Fun," an original showcase featuring dancers from Maui OnStage's dance program, Konomi Dance Works and Sumek Dance. The show will feature many different styles, choreographed by Sarah Loney, Hadley Garcia and Erin Kowalick. The performance is at 6:30 p.m. Monday, as part of Maui OnStage's ONO! series at the Historic Iao Theater. Admission is free.
Don't miss a weekend of world class hula at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. "Unukupukupu: Dancing Beyond the Veil" descends from the 'Aiha'a tradition of Halau O Kekuhi, anchored in the rituals of Pele. This lecture and demonstration will be conducted by Dr. Taupouri Tangaro, an Uniki 'Ailolo of Halau O Kekuhi and Associate Professor at Hawaii Community College. The event will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, at the MACC's Yokouchi Pavilion. Tickets are $13 (plus applicable fees).
At 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 13, Dr. Tangaro will conduct a hula workshop in the 'Aiha'a dance and ho'opa'a traditions. The workshop is for advanced hula practitioners in kumu hula, alaka'i, 'olapa and ho'opa'a. Reservations are required and tickets are $10. To register, call Moani Whittle-Wagner at 243-4227.
"Ku Mai Ka Hula," the eighth annual international hula competition will take place from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14. The annual international hula competition features halau winners from Japan and Hawaii in adult solo and group performances. The dancers compete in kahiko (traditional hula) and 'auana (modern-day hula) in both male and female categories.
* A pre-show performance starts at 11:45 a.m. at the MACC's Castle Theater. Tickets are $25 (plus applicable fees), with half-price keiki tickets available. To purchase tickets for any MACC event, visit the MACC box office, call 242-7469 or order online at www.mauiarts.org.
Also coming to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center this month is "Broadway's Next H!t Musical." This original award-winning improvised musical show from New York City abandons the same old song-and-dance to create a
brand-new, fully improvised, musical comedy every night. The energetic, on-the-spot and hilarious production requires the audience to decide what goes into the show. The first act is a made-up awards ceremony with songs from the "Best Musical" nominees, based on audience-created song titles. The second act is an entire musical created from the winning song, by the cast, during intermission.
* "Broadway's Next H!t Musical" will be in performance one night only at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, in Castle Theater. Tickets prices TBA.
Maui Academy of Performing Arts announces three new fall intercession performing arts camps, which offer five days of performing arts fun, Monday, Oct. 7 through Friday, Oct. 11 at the MAPA studios in Wailuku. The Princess Dance Camp, for ages 3 to 5, is from 9 a.m. to noon. "Princesses" will be whisked away to the land of fairy tales and each day they'll enjoy dancing, activities, stories and crafts. The course is taught by Katie Higuchi and tuition is $125. The Dance Camp, for ages 6 to10, is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dancers will learn skills in ballet, jazz, hip hop, memorization, flexibility, coordination and teamwork under the guidance of MAPA's associate dance director, Rebecca Owen. The camp culminates in a fun performance for family and friends on the last day, and tuition is $195. The Drama Camp, for ages 5 to 9, is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Actors will spend their fall break making new friends and building self-confidence while learning how to create characters, improvise and work as a team, culminating in a performance on the last day for families and friends. Tuition is $195. To register for any MAPA performing arts class, call 244-8760 or visit www.mauiacademy.org.