Producing our next generation of performers

Maui theater groups go all out . . . with exciting summer programs for isle youths

Theatre Theatre Maui’s performing arts kids with Director Kristi Scott (seated front center). Photo courtesy Theatre Theatre Maui

Every summer, Maui youth theater camps go all-out with large-scale musicals featuring upwards of 50 students. Theatre Theatre Maui in Lahaina, and Maui OnStage and Maui Academy of Performing Arts, both in Wailuku, have all begun open enrollments that will culminate with performances of “Legally Blonde JR.,” “Disney’s My Son Pinocchio Jr.” and “Frozen JR.” in July.

With limited theater opportunities on the west side, Lahaina-based Theatre Theatre Maui has strived to fill that void for over 25 years, and expanded in 2019 to offer after-school drama clubs.

“We offer free improv classes at the Boys & Girls Club, free drama clubs at west-side elementary and middle schools, and a low cost summer camp that is a one-of-a-kind way to experience every aspect of theater,” shares Nancy Taylor, executive administrator for TTM.

I asked Taylor why Maui theater lovers should support TTM.

“Theater lovers keep theater alive. Without their support, there would be limited-to-no performing arts opportunities on the west side.”

Director Dejah Padon (far left) and Kim Vetterley join the teen cast of Maui OnStage’s spring production, “Once On This Island.” Brett Wulfson photo

This summer, TTM’s production will be “Legally Blonde JR.,” directed by Kristi Scott. Camp runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, June 10 to July 17, with performances July 18 through July 21 at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Kaanapali.

“We chose ‘Legally Blonde, JR.’ because it is a high-energy, modern show with a great message about female empowerment and perseverance. Each year, we try and bring something different to the cast and audience. We also try to increase the production value year-by-year. Our aim is to make our summer production a not-to-be-missed event for the community, and showcase the talents of our westside kids,” adds TTM Board President Annabehl Sinclair-Delaney.

• TTM invites students entering grades 4 up to those aged 18 to register. Tuition ranges from $399 (if paid before Wednesday) to $425 per child, with payment plans and financial aid available for qualifying families. To register a student or for more information, visit www.ttm westmaui.org, call 661-1168 or email admin@ttmwestmaui.org.

*****

Maui OnStage’s summer camp hosts students ages 7 to 15 from 1 to 5 p.m. weekdays, June 10 through July 19 at the Maui OFFStage Studio at 811 Kolu St. in Wailuku, with four performances of “My Son Pinocchio Jr.,” July 21 through 29 at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku.

Hoku Pavao Jones (left) and David Johnston from Maui Academy of Performing Arts will be directing “Disney’s “Frozen JR.” Jack Grace photo

The production will be directed by former MOS youth-theater student Brianna Kenar.

“I began participating in youth theater at Maui OnStage when I was about 12 years old,” explained Kenar. “Shortly thereafter, I was too old to participate, and teen productions did not yet exist.

I knew I still wanted to be a part of the youth productions, so I began volunteering. In high school, the most meaningful activity that I did was working as an education assistant for Maui OnStage — which I actually wrote about for one of my college admissions essays. I feel that, as a result of this work, I have gained stronger leadership and interpersonal skills.”

The MOS camp provides learning and performing experience for youths through multiple teachers and directors, and I asked Kenar if she was excited to be directing for the first time.

“Currently, I am attending the University of Michigan, which is pretty far from home. One day during the semester, classes were quite stressful, but [youth program coordinator] Jessica Nelson messaged me asking if I wanted to direct the youth summer show, and immediately I knew the answer was, ‘Yes!’ “ Kenar replied. “I am extremely excited to be a part of this production and cannot wait to get started.”

• MOS camp tuition is $650 per child, $1,200 for two siblings and includes a cast T-shirt, a DVD of the performance and two complimentary tickets to the show. To register a student or for more information, visit www.mauionstage.com.

*****

Although online registration of MAPA’s annual summer theater camp has ended, they’ve recently opened up a few additional spots. Interested parents should contact the administrative offices immediately by phone at 244-8760. Hoku Pavao Jones directs “Frozen Jr.,” under the mentorship of David Johnston.

“I’ll just be hanging around the edges as Hoku moves into her artistic director leadership role,” said Johnston. Both credit Carolyn Wright, MAPA director of programs, when I asked why ‘Frozen” was chosen.

“Carolyn had read about kids with disabilities on NPR and how they had chosen ‘Let It Go’ as their anthem. She shared that with us, and a video of the kids, which was very moving. Just a few days later, MTI released the rights to the show, and it just felt as if it was meant to be,” shared Pavao Jones.

“When new material like ‘Frozen’ becomes available, you just have to jump on it,” enthused Johnston.

I asked what makes MAPA’s camp unique?

“This year we will have three weeks of conservatory training. From 9 [a.m.] to noon the kids will train in acting, singing, dancing, stage combat and makeup with guest artists teaching those specialty skills; and then from 1 to 4 [p.m.], they’ll rehearse ‘Frozen,’ “ explained Pavao Jones.

“Separating the camp into a conservatory was a dream of ours for many years in terms of the development of the students. Not having the big summer show at the MACC this year freed up a lot of space in the studios, and a lot of time for our staff to devote more time to the camp,” added Johnston. “My hope with a conservatory is to provide the students the advanced tools they can have in their tool kit as they move forward to the next step in theater.”

• MAPA’s camp for students ages 8 to 18 runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, June 10 through 18 at the MAPA studios in Wailuku, with 10 performances of “Frozen Jr.” July 19 through 29 at the ‘A’ali’ikuhonua Creative Arts Center on the Seabury Hall campus in Makawao. Tuition is $875 per child. For more information, visit www.mauiacademy.org.

This week

The Baldwin High Performing Arts Learning Center and Baldwin Theatre Guild concludes their season with the 14th annual “Variety Show Extravaganza.”

• Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday and Monday in the Loudon Mini-Theatre at back of the H.P. Baldwin High School campus in Wailuku. General admission tickets are $5 and are available at the box office 45 minutes prior to showtime.

*****

Maui OnStage concludes “The Boys Next Door” by Tom Griffin, directed by Ricky Jones.

• Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Historic Iao Theater. Tickets are $20 to $40. To purchase tickets for any Iao Theater event, call 242-6969 or order online at www.mauionstage.com.

Upcoming

ProArts Youth Theater in partnership with Kihei Charter School present “Charlotte’s Web,” directed by Francis Taua and Kirsten Otterson.

• Performances are at 7 p.m. May 17 and 18, and 3 p.m. May 19 at the ProArts Playhouse at Azeka Shopping Center Makai in Kihei. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for children ages 12 through 5 and free for children younger than 5 years. For more information or to purchase tickets for any ProArts event, call 463-6550 or visit www.proartsmaui.com.

*****

Seabury Hall Performing Arts concludes its season with its 24th annual “Side Shows,” an evening of 10-minute plays.

• Performances are 7 p.m. May 17 and 18 in the ‘A’ali’ikuhonua Creative Arts Center on the Seabury Hall campus in Makawao. Admission is free, donations are welcomed. For more information, visit www.seaburyhall.org.

COMMENTS