After a whirlwind month of productions (too many to accommodate reviews for all), I was pleasantly surprised that all eight Maui-produced shows had packed houses with upward of 200 people per night. Adding in the gigantic Maui Arts & Cultural Center crowds last month, it is fair to say that Maui residents have no problem buying tickets to a dozen shows over a few weeks.
Local drama educators deserve high praise for recent youth theater productions. King Kekaulike's Chris Kepler presented an inspiring and extremely polished production of "The Tempest." The depth in which this large teen cast truly grasped Shakespearean language was in some ways superior to recent adult Shakespeare performances.
Victoria McGee's multimedia musical production of "Alice in Wonderland" at Kamehameha Schools Maui was a feast for the eyes. The technical aspects and phenomenal costumes of "Alice" were of a professional theatrical level, and Aeris Joseph-Takashita's performance in the title role was utterly charming.
Performers take the stage at 2013’s “Sneak Peek” event.
Sally Sefton's production of "The Diviners" at Seabury Hall was, thus far, the finest dramatic production of the year, and that includes adult productions. Leads Kaimana Neil, Zeb Mehring and Zoe Harrelson are not only ready to take on college-level drama, but they're close to being ready to audition professionally.
Baldwin High presented its largest scale musical since 2012's "Hairspray" with "High School Musical," under the direction of Linda Carnevale. More than 50 students were involved from cast to crew and live orchestra. The athletic and exhausting choreography by Andre Morrisette was well executed by the teen cast, adding to the infectious joy that radiated from the stage. When it came to cast energy and an audience having fun because the cast did, "High School Musical" was ahead of the class.
As the 2013-14 isle theater season begins to wind down, focus now shifts to what is in store for the summer and beyond. ProArts Playhouse has just announced an upcoming Maui-premier production of 2009's multi-Tony Award- winning "God in Carnage" by Yasmina Reza, set to open April 25. The talented cast for this edgy adult comedy-drama will be Kisha Milling, Jennifer Rose, William Makozak and Don Carlson. Maui OnStage will soon reveal its productions slated for next season, and Maui Academy of Performing Arts has just announced its big summer musical follow-up to "Les Miserables" - "Miss Saigon" at the Castle Theater in August (see audition details below) .
Performers take the stage at 2013's "Sneak Peek" event. Catch a "Sneak Peek" of the 2014-15 season at Maui OnStage's fourth annual fundraiser from 5 to 9 p.m. March 29 at Aloha Aku, a Kihei oceanfront estate. Tickets are available via 244-8680 and www.mauionstage.com.
Following in the footsteps of successful "Murder at the Juice Joint" and "The Red Carpet Mystery," Maui Academy of Performing Arts will present next weekend its third annual murder mystery fundraiser, "Shaken & Stirred." Event planners are inviting people to join "James Blonde 008" at the party of the year, because after all, "You only die once." Guests can participate in the unfolding drama by wearing '60s Bond attire, playing a role in the mystery and trying to guess the murderer's identity. Or you can simply sit back, relax and enjoy the fun, glamour, a gourmet dinner and stylish drinks. The evening of intrigue and entertainment will also feature cabaret performances by Lia Krieg, Lina Krueger, Gary Shin-Leavitt, Lily Marceau Telford and, of course, a mystery to solve. Proceeds for the event will support MAPA's educational performing arts programs, which annually reach more than 60,000 children and adults statewide.
There are several ticket options available for groups or individuals, including a Secret Agent Ticket for $150; a You Only Live Twice table for 10 at $1,350; the Diamonds are Forever sponsor table of 10 for $2,500; and the Goldfinger sponsor table of 10 for $5,000. A portion of your donation is tax deductable. Inquire at the MAPA offices for tax-related specifics.
* "Shaken & Stirred: A Murder Mystery Party" unfolds from 6 to 10 p.m. March 28 at the King Kamehameha Golf Club in Wailuku. Tickets are available by calling 244-8760. For more information, visit www.mauiacademy.org.
The same weekend, Maui OnStage will host its annual fundraiser, "Sneak Peek," in Kihei. The event is limited to a small number of attendees. Guests will be treated to a full evening of behind-the-curtain peeks from five upcoming 2014-15 dramatic, comedic and musical productions. This year's list of entertainers includes Jerry Eiting, Lina Krueger, Charles Cook, Bob Wills, Ricky Jones, Dale Button, Jason Wolf, Felicia Chernicki, Zeb Merhing, Marley Merhing, Ashlyn Aniban, Erin Kowalick, David Negaard, Lee Garrow, Beth Garrow and Steven Dascoulias.
The evening begins at 5 with sunset oceanfront cocktails by Haliimaile Distilling Company and thematic buffet stations by Vineyard Foods, followed by live entertainment, dessert, the season announcement and additional music performed by Gilbert Emata. Ticket options range from $125 per person to $1,125 for a table of 10, a portion of which is tax deductable.
* Don't miss the final performances of "Fiddler on the Roof," with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, book by Joseph Stein and direction by David Johnston. Performances, starring Gary Shin-Leavitt as Tevye, are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Steppingstone Playhouse at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. Tickets range from $18 to $24. For more information or to purchase, call 244-8760 or visit www.mauiacademy.org.
* Calling all friends of the Philippines: Come out to support a benefit for Typhoon Haiyan Philippine relief with "Premiere Filipino American Comedian" Rex Navarrete and "Hawaii's Favorite Filipino Portuguese Comedian,"' Augie T, together in one big night of "laffs." Choose from two performances: 7 or 9 p.m. Friday in the McCoy Studio Theater at the MACC. Tickets are $20 and $35 (plus applicable fees). Visit the MACC box office, call 242-7469 or order online at www.mauiarts.org.
* The Maui Academy of Performing Arts announces that three summer productions are holding auditions this month.
* Students entering 3rd to 8th grade can spend the summer singing, dancing and acting in "Disney's Cinderella, Kids." Auditions are 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 6. Performances are July 24 to 27, and tuition is $875.
* Students entering 9th grade and up will receive professional-level training to rehearse and perform the musical "Pippin," choreographed by Katie Higuchi and trained in Fosse technique by Ann Reinking. Auditions are 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 6. Performances are July 5 to 13, and tuition is $275. All actors must register in advance for auditions.
* Auditions for "Miss Saigon" are 6 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 26; noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 29; and 5 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, April 4. For additional audition details, visit www.mauiacademy.org.