Since 2009, there have been four Maui productions of "Cinderella," and this weekend marks the fifth with the Maui Academy of Performing Arts' "Disney Cinderella Kids." Over the centuries, there have been more than 50 stage and film versions of "Cinderella," the earliest being an opera in 1749, and its first film incarnation was in 1899. The 1950 Walt Disney version is perhaps the most recognizable, and easily the most financially successful. But the 1940s nearly bankrupted Disney. "Pinocchio," "Fantasia," and "Bambi," despite later success, were gigantic box-office flops. It was "Dumbo" that kept Walt Disney Studios afloat, but 1950s "Cinderella," two years in the making, became Disney's biggest hit since "Snow White," literally saving the feature film department of the Disney empire, generating $85 million in box-office revenue in its initial release.
A new live action Disney production of "Cinderella" is slated to open next year. Kenneth Branagh will direct, and the screenplay is co-written by Aline Brosh McKenna ("The Devil Wears Prada") and Chris Weitz ("The Twilight Saga: New Moon"). Lily James ("Downton Abbey") plays the title role with Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine. Even 60 plus years ago Walt Disney himself addressed criticism in regards to "Cinderella's" slightly chauvinistic overtones. "So she believed in dreams, all right, but she also believed in doing something about them. When Prince Charming didn't come along, she went over to the palace and got him."
"Disney Cinderella Kids" is the culmination of MAPA's Youth Musical Theatre Camp for students ages 7 to 14. The annual camp provides more than 150 hours of intensive training in acting, dancing and singing.
“Disney Cinderella Kids,” stars Zoe Smith, Emelie Gardinier (back row), Noelle Lo, Keoki Kale Duncan and Ashley Pokorski.
The popular music and lyrics were written by Tin Pan Alley composers Mac David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston. Believe it or not, "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" reached number seven on the Billboard charts that year, was nominated for an Oscar, and went on to be recorded by such singing legends as Perry Como and Jo Stafford. The original film recording was even used in a recent Gatorade World Cup commercial. Caitlyn Campbell, as Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, sings the recognizable tune in this MAPA production. Ashley Pokorski, who played Young Cosette in "Les Miserables" last summer, takes on the title role, opposite Keoki Kale Duncan as Prince Charming.
Opera Maui's inaugural benefit concert was a triumphant success, leaving its sold-out crowd abuzz over a future local opera company. If Friday night's performance is any indication of what Maui can expect, the bar has been set incredibly high. This intimate concert and the burgeoning new company have already surpassed HOT's June production of "The Mikado." In particular, the Grammy Award-winning, Audrey Luna is a phenomenon. Short of Tony Bennett and his bel canto technique, Luna's "Glitter and Be Gay," from "Candide," and "Caro Nome," from "Rigaletto" may be the finest vocal performance ever witnessed at the MACC. Fellow Grammy winner, Quinn Kelsey, a superb baritone, even acknowledged having to follow Luna. Before his magnificent presentation of "Pari Siamo," also from "Rigaletto," Kelsey comically conveyed "Are you kidding me?" When Opera Maui's founder, Jim Price speaks of a future full-scale opera in the near future, I can only hope it will star Luna. Should she return to Maui, run, don't walk to witness this soprano's stunning coloratura in its absolute prime.
* MAPA presents "Disney Cinderella Kids" at 7 tonight and Friday; and at 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Steppingstone Playhouse at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center in Kahului. Co-directed by Kathleen Schulz and Donna Breeden, with music direction by Kim Vetterli, it's also choreographed by Schulz. Cost is $12 for adults and $8 for students. For tickets or more information, call 244-8760 or visit www.mauiacademy.org.
Theatre Theatre Maui concluded another summer of drama camp, with an adorable production of "Bugsy Malone, Jr.," starring 37 Maui westside youths between the ages of 7 and 14. The Paul William's composed musical featured several well-performed numbers, particularly "Bugsy Malone," "Fat Sam's Grand Slam," and "Bad Guys," an extremely catchy tune reprised in the finale. A favorite moment was Tessa Chin's exuberance and stage presence on "Show Business." Although she couldn't have been more than about 7, I'm guessing we'll see her taking on larger roles in future Maui youth productions. Other performances of note were Kyle Killet in the title role, Rory Delaney as Fat Sam, Chloe Chin as Blousey Brown, Malia Paulino as Tallulah, Maison Alexander as Dandy Dan and Jacob Jerome as Fizzy. TTM is in many ways the only outlet for dramatic instruction in West Maui. To say they operate on a bare-bones budget in an understatement. Regardless, the set (built from scratch by the kids themselves) looked great and worked wonderfully. For more information about TTM or to make a contribution, call 661-1168.
Also this weekend
Maui OnStage presents "Legally Blonde: the Musical" book by Heather Hach, lyrics and music by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin, directed by Justin House, choreographed by Erin Kowalick, and under the musical direction of Vania Jerome. UCLA Delta Nu sorority president Elle Woods (Casey Murphy Hughes) has her sights on marrying Warner Huntington III (Dylan Bode). When Warner decides to break up, Elle chases her beau to Harvard Law School. Elle's snobby classmates disapprove of her immediately, but in time Elle excels at Harvard. Don't judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a blonde. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays continuing through Aug. 3 at the Historic Iao Theater. Tickets range from $17 to $28. To purchase tickets for any Iao Theater event, call 242-6969 or order online at mauionstage.com.
Kamp Krazy Tales returns with one final summer session. The Drama Queen (Kristi Scott) and Keyboard Kim (Kim Vetterli), are teaming up again to present three drama and music Kamps this Summer for the keiki of Kihei and beyond. Students will learn fun drama games and music techniques, and the Kamp will culminate with a short performance for parents. Pre-registration is required. No previous experience is necessary. The session runs from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Aug.1 in the ProArts Playhouse at the Azeka Shopping Center in Kihei. Kamp Krazy Tales is intended for children ages 5 to 12, and tuition is $150 per child with two-hour extended day care available. To enroll, or if interested in sponsoring a child, call 463-6550. For more information, visit www.proartspacific.com
Don't miss The Maui Chamber Orchestra in performance, featuring the Maui Masterworks Chorale and compositions by Mozart and Vivaldi. Join the conductor, Robert E. Wills in conversation 90 minutes prior to the shows. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 10 at the Historic Iao Theater. Tickets range from $25 to $45, with half-priced tickets available with a valid student ID. To purchase tickets for any Iao Theater event, call 242-6969 or order online at www.mauionstage.com.
From the company that brought you "Les Miserables," MAPA LIVE presents "Miss Saigon," music by Claude-Michael Schonberg, original French lyrics by Alain Boulil and Richard Maltby, Jr., direction by David C. Johnston, choreography by Andre Morissette and musical direction by Gary Shinn-Leavitt. This haunting and heart-wrenching love story of a Vietnamese bar girl and an American Marine during the fall of Saigon is making its Maui debut and featuring 45 performers and a live 21-piece orchestra. An intimate story about the shattering effects of war on people who love each other, "Miss Saigon" is ultimately a moving testament to the power of the human spirit to survive (contains mature themes and language). Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, Aug. 15 through 24 in Castle Theater at the MACC. Tickets range from $15 (with a valid student ID) to $65 (plus applicable fees). To purchase tickets for any MACC event visit the MACC box office, call 242-7469 or order online at mauiarts.org.