Hot times and cool theaters
June kicks off summer for Maui theater audiences
June will be busting out with classical, artistic activity at Seabury Hall’s ‘A’ali’ikuhonua Creative Arts Center in Makawao. Next Saturday Vinnie Linares’ Oh Boy Productions begins a four-show series of classic plays starting with the Greek tragedy “Medea” by Euripides.
“There’s a thin line between love and hate,” according to the advertisement for “Medea” which is based on the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts. The tragedy picks up after Jason’s quest for the prized Golden Fleece concludes. While still chasing ambition, Jason (William Makozak) abandons his wife Medea (Jennifer Rose) to marry the daughter of King Creon (Todd Van Amburgh). As Medea grieves over the loss of her husband, her nurse (Carol Lem) fears what she might do to herself and her children in retaliation.
“Until the early 1990s many of the classics were regularly performed on Maui because of Sue Loudon (the founder of Baldwin High School’s theater program),” shared Linares. “Using both her Baldwin kids and some adults like myself, Marsha Kelly, Kathleen Schultz, Lina Aiko Krueger and Derek Nakagawa, she offered the Greek classics but specialized in productions of Moliere’s 16th century farces.
“These plays not only sold out houses, but offered Maui a creative glimpse into the historical evolution of comedy and tragedy — providing great entertainment while also educating theater audiences,” he said.
Linares hopes to revive interest in the classics with productions like next week’s “Medea” to be followed by “Tartuffe” by Moliere in March of 2018, “Antigone” by Sophocles next June and Moliere’s “The Imaginary Invalid” in December of 2018.
“All four plays are timeless and deal with some universal truths of the human condition that defy time and are relevant to so many social-political issues,” said Linares.
I asked Linares if he thought 21st century Maui audiences would support classical theater.
“Initially large ticket sales, while wanted, are not a major objective,” he explained. “That is why ‘Medea’ is heavily subsidized by generous supporters seeking the reintroduction of the classics. Audiences may be small at first, but made up of people who love more than just musicals. The plays I have selected for a two-year period are extremely funny as well as highly provocative, and be they tragedies or comedies, they challenge the audience to ponder some serious moral and ethical questions, while at the same time offering highly skilled actors an opportunity to test their skills.
“Hopefully people support this effort. Support is something that broadens the theatrical offerings on Maui — support the risk, take a chance. Support can be actualized by buying tickets, making donations, volunteering time, taking the time to see if the effort is worth the work.”
Also at Seabury Hall, Alexander Academy of Performing Arts opens its annual ballet production “Once Upon A Time: Storybook Dances” this weekend. AAPA, the little dance company that could, has been offering professional dance instruction at the Old Kula Community Center for 27 years. With the recent closure of its longtime home by Maui County’s Department of Parks and Recreation, AAPA has been shuffled to find rehearsal space for its upcoming production while also searching for a permanent new studio center.
“With one week’s notice, we found ourselves with no place to rehearse and our biggest annual show coming up in a month’s time,” said Executive Director Danelle Watson. “It has added challenges, but it has also been incredibly encouraging to see the immediate swell of support from our surrounding community to get us through our performance season and our future.”
Temporary space was gifted by Seabury Hall and Kula Elementary School, which allowed AAPA to maintain classes and rehearsals. Watson stressed that the ultimate goal is to continue the mission of making dance affordable and “in keeping rates low, people are motivated to give back through other means such as fundraising and volunteering.”
Founder Cynthia Murphy established the academy’s pay-what-you-can philosophy in 1990. Traditionally, for those who have needed financial assistance, AAPA has provided tuition discounts of up to 90 percent. Last summer I interviewed current instructor, former student and co-founder of Adaptations Dance Theater, Amelia Couture, who began studying with AAPA at the age of 10 in the early 1990s.
“We struggled with money. I don’t think my mother ever paid more than $60 a month, and my sister and I attended about 10 classes per week,” reflected Couture.
The 2017 recital will showcase more than 150 student dancers ages 3 to adult and will feature original choreography recreating traditional and modern storybook tales including “Thumbelina,” “Peter Pan,” “James and the Giant Peach,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Snow White,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Trolls” and “Harry Potter.” Graduating senior students Hanna Claerbout and Ashley Krost will also perform solo pieces.
“The smiles on dancers’ faces and the generous support from our sponsors justifies we are doing something of value,” said Watson.
AAPA will be moving into its new home in Haliimaile today for summer classes and hopes to expand the facility to three studio spaces to work in by the fall.
“We are thankful for Maui Land and Pine to be cooperative with working with us on our leasing needs in such short notice, and the Erdman Family for their support giving us a generous fund to make some improvements to the building,” said Watson.
Watson also expressed that the easiest way for the Maui community to support AAPA’s efforts to make those necessary improvements in its new home is to attend one of the performances this weekend.
• Performances are at 2 and 6 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the ‘A’ali’ikuhonua Creative Arts Center on the Seabury Hall campus. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 2 through 12, with VIP seats available at $25 for adults and $18 for children. Call (800) 838-3006 or visit www.storybookdances.brown
papertickets.com. For more information, visit www.alexanderacademy.info.
Maui OnStage continues its free theater series, ONO! on June 12 with an original musical based on the life of Vincent van Gogh, “Poet’s Garden” by John Allee and Gary Matanky. The local cast will include David Tuttle as van Gogh, Jerry Eiting as Paul Gauguin, Ricky Jones, Kirsten Otterson, Lisa Teichner and Stephen Webb. This Maui premiere will also be accompanied by an orchestral trio of Vania Jerome on keyboards, Cheryl Lindley on cello and Peter Della Croce on percussion.
• The free ONO! performances are 6:30 p.m. every second Monday of the month at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku. For more information visit www.mauionstage.com.
Pro Arts Playhouse presents “Red, White and Tuna” by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard, directed by Victoria McGee. William Hubbard and John Williams play the entire population of Tuna, the third smallest town in Texas, in the sequel to “Greater Tuna,” where the Lions Club is too liberal and Patsy Cline never dies.
• Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays June 16 through July 2 (no performance on June 18) at the Pro Arts Playhouse in Kihei. Tickets are $26 and are available by phone at 463-6550 or online at www.proartsmaui.com.
Adaptations Dance Theater presents its second annual “Bring it Home” dance concert.
• Performances are at 7:30 p.m. June 23 and 24 at the ‘A’ali’ikuhonua Creative Arts Center on the Seabury Hall campus. An opening night gala will be held at 6:30 p.m. on June 23 and tickets include drinks and pupu. Tickets to the Opening Night Gala are $55 for adults and $25 for ages 21 and under. Saturday tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for ages 12 and under. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.adaptationsdancetheater.com.