About a year and a half ago, I interviewed Lee Cataluna, who had just released her latest book, "Three Years on Doreen's Sofa." At the time she was continuing her education in California, which led to a creative-writing assignment of 10-page scenes. Those scenes have now evolved into her latest play, "Flowers of Hawai'i," a series of playlets depicting relationships between several members of a Hawaiian family.
Oahu journalist Ryan Senega describes Cataluna as "Hawaii's Nora Ephron." High praise, indeed, but with successes like "Doreen's Sofa," "Folks You Meet in Longs," as well as 10 previous plays, Cataluna has become Hawaii's premiere humorist.
When we last spoke, I asked if she had any advice for local aspiring writers. Her answer was immediate and simple: "A lousy first draft can be fixed. A perfect draft that never gets written isn't worth anything."
Kata Karoda (left) and Jacob Song are among the stars of “Flowers of Hawai’i,” local playwright Lee Cataluna’s latest work.
Photo courtesy Kuma Kahua Productions
Danielle Zalapony (left) and Reb Beau Allen are shown in a scene from “Flowers of Hawai‘i.”
Photo courtesy Kuma Kahua Productions
"Flowers of Hawai'i" begins with a grandmother (Kati Karoda), who discovers that her children and grandchildren have placed labels under her belongings, claiming them as an inheritance while she's still alive. Karoda introduces the audience to the family members, who later appear in the 10 playlets.
"In each scene, someone references past scenes and previous characters," says Director Harry Wong. "It's the same format as a play; each scene connects to the next, and they flow right into each other."
Additional playlets involve a daughter who is critical of her father's duplicitous nature and need to fit in with all cultures. You'll meet a young married woman who has grown tired of her extramarital affair with a police officer. And a young mother attempting to pass off responsibility to her mother.
>>> Oahu's Kumu Kahua Theatre presents "Flowers of Hawai'i" by Lee Cataluna. Directed by Harry Wong, performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7 and 8, in Maui Arts & Cultural Center's McCoy Studio Theater. General admission tickets are $28 (plus applicable fees). Visit the MACC box office, call 242-7469 or order online at www.mauiarts.org.
Cataluna and Wong have collaborated over many months to craft the final product. "Lee originally gave me the scenes; I liked them, but I asked her to write four more," said Wong. "The play continues to evolve. I've suggested some line changes, and Lee has changed a few lines, too. Audiences can expect a very funny show, but it's written in such a way that from moment to moment it can be poignant as well."
* The fourth annual Maui Fringe Theater Festival begins Friday and runs through Sunday at the Historic Iao Theater. This year's weekendlong marathon of performing arts ranges from award-winning dance, world-premiere plays, dramatic and comedic monologues, improv and cabaret. General admission tickets are $10 per show (plus applicable fees), with $20 Sunday all-show passes available. Day passes are available by phone only and include admission to three performances and the closing night awards party. For a complete schedule and more information about the Maui Fringe Theater Festival, call 242-6969 or order tickets online at www.mauionstage.com.
* The Maui Preparatory Academy Lower School presents "Disney's Peter Pan, Jr.," directed by Vania Jerome, at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Pueo Playhouse on the Maui Prep campus in Napili. Reserved and general admission tickets range from $20 to $5 for children younger than 11. Advance tickets are available at Lahaina Music, by calling Maui Prep at 665-9966 or at the door.
* An unparalleled fourth Dave Chappelle performance has been added at the MACC, and tickets may still be available. Performance is 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, in Castle Theater. General admission tickets are $55 (plus applicable fees).
* Catch the "Bad Boys of Dance," whose mission is to push the boundaries of dance to deliver the most exciting shows in the world, featuring athletic jumps, endless turns and individuality. Performance is 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6 in Castle Theater. Tickets range from $12 to $42 (plus applicable fees).
* Jo Koy returns to the MACC next weekend. Recently named by Variety as one of the "10 Comics to Watch," he has gained national attention on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," Comedy Central, "Jimmy Kimmel Live," "Last Call with Carson Daly" and "Chelsea Lately." Recommended for mature audiences. Performance is 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7 in Castle Theater. Tickets range from $25 to $45 (plus applicable fees).
* ProArts Playhouse presents "The Play's the Thing" by Ferenc Molnar, adapted by P.G. Wodehouse, directed by Jonathan Lehman. A playwright, Sandor Turai (Dale Button) has brought the script of their latest operetta to an Italian castle to show it to the show's star and diva, Ilona Szabo (Jennifer Rose). A farcical romantic atmosphere ensues when compromising conversation is overheard requiring quick thinking to mend the situation and save the operetta. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, Feb. 14 though March 2 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. Tickets are $22 with kamaaina discounts available for residents. For tickets or more information, call 463-6550.
* The ProArts Playhouse is hosting an Improvisation Workshop Intensive with Mark Beltzman. This workshop is for the ensemble actor, improviser or anyone open to exploring the art of improvisation through listening rather than thinking, and focusing on a connection with your partner and your environment. Classes have begun, but continue through February from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Mondays or Tuesdays at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. To enroll or for more information, call 463-6550.
* Maui OnStage is launching two new courses for actors on Tuesdays at the Historic Iao Theater. Yoga and Stretching for the Performer, taught by Brett Wulfson, is $80 for an eight-week session held at 5 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Tuesday through April 1 (no class Feb. 25). Expanding the Actor's Toolbox, taught by Rick Scheideman, integrates instinct, response with integrity, voice and speech, character physicality, and scene study to encourage actor development. This eight-week course is $120, held at 5:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Tuesday through April 1 (no class Feb. 25). Actors may combine both classes for $150. For more information, visit www.mauionstage.com or call 244-8680, Ext. 23.