"I've never really had any training," says Maui actress and singer, Lia Krieg. "I started in 1987 at the old Pu'unene Playhouse under the direction of Linda Takita in 'Pinocchio,'" she shares. "They made a role for me, Jiminy Cricket, who narrated the show. I wasn't a very disciplined actor at 7, and I remember them always trying to find me during rehearsal. I was too busy making friends and having fun when I should have been paying attention; after that I practically lived at Maui Youth Theater" (now Maui Academy of Performing Arts).
From MAPA childhood performances to Baldwin High theater, " 'Ulalena, and roles such as Velma Kelly at the Iao Theater and Eponine at the MACC, Krieg has dazzled Maui audiences most of her life.
Recently she was cast as the Magical SeaStar for an East Coast tour of the original musical, "Honu By The Sea." The production is currently in workshop, but may end up on Broadway in a few years. Johnson Enos, the creator and composer, presented a pared-down performance at the Seattle Aquarium, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration determined it to have great educational value. The NOAA has since partnered with Enos to tour "Hono," which they hope will expand to 22 cities and five countries.
Maui’s own Lia Krieg is shown as the Magical SeaStar in “Honu By The Sea” in Washington D.C., during its recent East Coast tour. The production will make its Oahu debut July 3 at Royal Hawaiian Hotel, and may end up on Broadway in a few years. The actress talks about her engaging career this week.
MATT McINTOSH Photo
Lia Krieg continues to dazzle.
MATT McINTOSH Photo
Krieg, cast out of Honolulu, just finished performing at the Capitol Hill Ocean Week convention, Walter Reed Medical Center, and the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.
"It is geared towards ages 3 to 8, but even the teens got a kick out of it," says Krieg. "We sold out every performance. It's been wonderful working with the production team, and great to share the stage with Deedee Magno Hall." Krieg understudies for Hall, who starred in "Miss Saigon" on Broadway and in Broadway tours of "Wicked."
I asked her how she became interested in performing. "My mom took us to everything, mostly because I was obsessed with performing arts. I came out singing and never stopped. I remember watching people like Krista Pigott, Amy Gilliom, and Lina Krueger and saying, 'I'm going to be that good one day.' " Krieg has become "that good." I wondered why she hasn't pursued Broadway. "I should've a long time ago, but I'm kind of a late bloomer. I don't think I would have been emotionally ready to handle it 15 years ago. However, the long and winding path I call my life has been so rich, that I have a lot to pull from now when I'm onstage. Also every time I try to leave, something on Maui presents itself to me - 'Don't go, the island will sustain you artistically and financially.' That is what happened with 'Ulalena. I was ready to leave and then, boom; I get a phone call asking me to fly to Oahu to audition. I ended up having the time of my life for the next six years and counting." Krieg continues to fill in as a sub in the long-running West Maui production.
When Krieg's not performing, she teaches A.P. Biology at her alma mater, Baldwin High School. Asked about the uncommon combination of art and science, she says that she majored in Cell and Molecular Biology in college.
"I love biology. It's beautiful, creative, and fascinating. In many ways when you look at a cell, an organism, an ecosystem it is much like looking at a show. You build a show from the ground up and each person, each line, each prop all works together to create magic. That is exactly what biology is all about."
While attending Baldwin, Krieg was in one of the last classes taught by legendary Maui dramatic instructor, Sue Ann Loudon. "Miss Loudon was the best teacher because she taught you everything. How to be a stage manager, stage hand, lighting technician, props master, sound technician, set builder, costumier. You came to understand all of the pieces that went in to creating a show, and therefore had a better respect for the craft. She managed to do this with love. We really wanted to be there, to work hard, and to do whatever it took to make an excellent show. She was magic like that. She taught me versatility and resilience."
A few years later, Krieg joined 'Ulalena.
"It was a great experience. I got to work with people who had done Cirque Du Soleil shows. I saw how creative and meticulous they were. One of the most important things I learned was how to communicate with the audience non-verbally by a master pirouette from Montreal. This skill has proved invaluable to me onstage now; an ability to clearly communicate with the audience, so that they feel what I feel, is a powerful thing."
Not unlike friend and business partner, Casey Murphy Hughes, Krieg is constantly seeking out new projects and business opportunities. She continues to perform in 'Honu,' making its Oahu debut at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel every Thursday in July. "I'm taking an extended leave this year to build my business, tour with 'Honu,' and pour my energy into my passion. I'm really lucky that my principal and department have been so supportive of my decision."
Krieg was also cast in a supporting role in Brian Kohne's ("Get A Job") latest film "Kuleana," slated to begin filming in October. She is excited to work with fellow cast members Keo Woolford and Kristina Anapau. "Any time you get to work with people who are actually 'working' it's a blessing," she shares. Enchanted Events Maui, the re-named and re-launched business co-founded with Murphy Hughes, specializes in enhancing events.
"We provide entertainment for parties. So far, we've provided The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, pirates, superheroes, and Marilyn Monroe. We hope to grow into a full-service party business in which parents can call us, book a theme, and the rest is done by us."
Leisure time permitting, Krieg attends Broadway shows in New York City. I asked if she had any favorites. "By far my favorite was 'Gentleman's Guide," which won the 2014 Tony for Best Musical earlier this month. "It was truly a work of art; and I wished it would never end. I also really loved the revival of 'Pippin.' Its story really touched me at this point in my life. I think I struggle with what Pippin struggles with, trying to find my "Corner in the Sky," and I've been realizing that corner might just be Maui. What I've learned is that Broadway is a mixed bag, having a big budget doesn't always mean a good show. I've seen things on Maui that would have blown Broadway away if they had the same type of budget and facilities. Maybe that's my calling," she pondered, "to create something like that at home."
Theatre Theatre Maui returns in July with "Bugsy Malone, Jr.," directed by Kristi Scott. Shows are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 18 and 19; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 20 at Lahaina Intermediate. For more details or to purchase tickets in advance, contact TTM Executive Director, Angie Thompson at 661-1168.
Opera Maui announces an inaugural fundraiser at the MACC. Opera Maui's debut concert features Hawaii's own Grammy Award-winning opera stars Quinn Kelsey and Audrey Luna, along with the Metropolitan Opera's Shoshanah Marote, and Jim Price, star of last summer's hit musical, Les Misrables (Jean Valjean). Toronto-based Hawaiian pianist Maika'i Nash accompanies this evening of opera's greatest hits. This is a rare opportunity to hear a standout cast of international opera singers in an intimate space. The proceeds will benefit Opera Maui and a future opera company here on Maui. Performance will be 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 18 in McCoy Studio Theater at MACC. General admission tickets are $39. Call 242-7469 or order online at www.mauiarts.org.
Maui OnStage will present "Legally Blonde: the Musical" in July. The book is by Heather Hach, the lyrics and music by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin, the direction by Justin House, and the choreography by Erin Kowalick. Vania Jerome provides the musical direction. Performances are July 11 through August 3 at the Historic Iao Theater. Cost is $17 to $28. Call 242-6969 or order online at mauionstage.com.
Maui Academy of Performing Arts presents "Pippin" July 5 to 13 in Steppingstone Playhouse at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. Call 244-8760.