Masters of their trade
Tina Kailiponi, Ally Shore and Karli Rose can teach audiences a thing or two about wielding their tools
Community theater on Maui simply could not exist if not for the army of carpenters, costumers, hair and makeup designers and the jack-of-all-trade artists behind the scenes.
Theatergoers might be surprised to learn that nearly all of these individuals are volunteers and may wonder why anyone would donate so much time and talent. The only answer I can offer is a question — Golfers pay to play even if they never make the PGA, so why would theater folk stop playing just because Broadway never came calling?
I interviewed three women who consistently volunteer their specialty skills to theater companies: Tina Kailiponi, Ally Shore and Karli Rose.
Kailiponi has been involved with the Maui Academy of Performing Arts since 1994.
“It all started when I was new to Maui and auditioned for ‘Cyrano De Bergerac’ to meet people on the island,” Kailiponi shared. “I was cast in a small role and had a lot of downtime between scenes, so I started helping Steve Hatcher with a quick change and was noticed by the stage manager. She invited me to be her assistant for the teen production of ‘FAME’ that summer.
“It was then that I discovered that I loved not only being backstage but also mentoring upcoming students. From then on, I would wander over to MAPA after my day job at Jr’s Music Store to learn anything anyone was willing to teach me.”
Shore is originally from New York and developed her love of theater as a child.
“I grew up with the theater in my blood,” she said. “My mother was a child actress and performer on the ‘Milton Berle Show’ and others. My father was a drummer with big bands and they both stayed involved with local community theater.
“I spent my days on trains from our home in Long Island to New York City to study dance, voice and acting. Standing room tickets on Broadway were my savior. I saw some of the great shows of the ’70s standing behind the last row of the orchestra for $10.”
In time, Shore added set building to her skill set.
“I was taught from a very early age no actor deserves to wear a costume if you’ve never sewn one, wield a prop if you’ve never scrounged for one or walk on a set if you’ve never built one,” said Shore.
I asked if she had an all-time favorite set piece.
“There’s a good chance that my latest project may turn out to be my favorite,” she answered. “I’m trying to build a flying car.”
That car will be “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” for Maui OnStage’s holiday production.
Rose has been teasing and spraying theater hair, wigs and doing makeup for about 10 years.
“I began helping out when I started working at Rutz salon with Linda Gallagher, who is a master wig stylist,” said Rose. “She pretty much taught me all I know about wig work.
“I love being a part of the production process and it is a way I can also give back to the community and support the arts.”
I asked how many volunteer hours are involved in styling wigs and makeup for a large production.
“So many of the productions I am also in, so it is really hard to say how many hours are put in. Plus, I never keep track of my hours because it is such creative work and it is so much fun,” shared Rose.
In the future for these three, Kailiponi will appear in MAPA’s upcoming “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” and both Rose and Shore are in the cast of ProArts’ September production of “The Elephant Man.”
I asked Rose to share her thoughts on the audition process.
“Auditioning is so nerve racking! I put in a lot to prepare for the audition no matter what size the role. I get more nervous to audition than I do performing on stage in front of hundreds of people,” she explained. “Once the audition is over then it’s the waiting game.
“It always stings a little bit to not get a role no matter the size, but I always discover something about myself during the process and that makes it all worth it. When you do get a part, it is so exciting! The next few months you will be able to really get into a project and create something amazing.”
“It’s rare that I audition for roles,” added Kailiponi. “Only because when I did, a good amount of time I’d get the phone call — ‘We don’t have a role for you but would you think about stage managing?’
“Part of what I teach my students is the art of dealing with disappointment. You prepare, you audition and if you get it, great. You were what the directors were looking for. If you don’t get the part, the directors’ vision was a little different than the vision you had in your head going into the audition and that’s OK.”
Kailiponi, Rose and Shore will be playing multiple roles in the two respective shows.
“I play a poor seamstress, an upper class lady and the Madame in ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame,’ “ said Kailiponi. “She hides gypsies in her brothel when they are trying to hide from the church. I like the role and it’s been so much fun being on this side of the production table for the first time in MAPA’s big summer productions.”
Kailiponi’s daughter also performs with MAPA, most recently in “Mulan Jr.,” and I asked if she was following in mom’s footsteps.
“My 12-year-old daughter Jillian has been coming to rehearsal with me since she was 3 years old. If you ask her she’ll tell you, ‘I’ve been around since before I was born.’ She was in the womb during my time at ‘Ulalena.’ I had a tinge of parent guilt because her childhood has been spent in the audience and backstage of theaters. I asked her about it once and she said ‘Mom, you are making my childhood an adventure. Every show is a different adventure.’ I am ecstatic that she loves the theater and loves being involved — not sure what I would do if she wanted to play sports,” Kailiponi joked.
Shore shared her excitement in being involved with “The Elephant Man.”
“I’m honored to be included in the cast. The actors I’m surrounded by are some of the strongest performers I’ve ever known, and that includes in New York and Chicago,” enthused Shore. “I love creating unique characters and this show is pushing my skills to the limit. I play an over-confident nurse, an exploited circus freak, and a con-artist and unscrupulous business ‘man.’
“It’s one thing to play any one of these characters, but to switch back and forth during the show will be challenging,” Shore said.
“I will be playing a couple of different roles — the Countess and a Pinhead,” said Rose who plays Shore’s sister, both of whom are exploited circus performers in a 19th-century British freak show.
“I’m really excited to work with this group of artists. It will be my first time performing on the ProArts stage,” she said.
I asked Rose if she would be taking on additional duties with the show.
“We just started the process so I’m not sure yet. It is community theater so I am sure I will have my hand in a few more things. Of course if there is a need for hair, I’ve got the hairspray!”
Maui OnStage concludes “9 to 5 The Musical,” music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, book by Patricia Resnick, directed and choreographed by Kalani Whitford and under the co-musical direction of Kim and Richard Vetterli.
* Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday at the Historic Iao Theater. “9 to 5 The Musical” contains some adult material and may not be appropriate for children. Tickets range from $20 to $40. To purchase tickets call 242-6969 or order online at www.mauionstage.com.