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Native American dancer and choreographer presents ‘Weave’

Baldwin Theatre Guild’s Shandon Obergon (from left), Jaysen Giroux, Hana Horikoshi-Hoffman, Dwight Samenero, Daisey Hoe, and Victoria Navarro appear in a scene from “Play On.” Baldwin Theatre Guild photo

Four years ago, I attended Rosy Simas’ “We Wait in the Darkness” at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. The Minneapolis-based Native American dancer and choreographer is Haudenosaunee (Six Nations or Iroquois people) but identifies as Seneca. I was so affected by the jarring beginning of “We Wait in the Darkness,” which was one of the most straightforwardly conveyed pieces of choreography I have ever witnessed, that I included her performance as one of the top 10 showstopping stage moments of 2015. Simas returns to the Maui tonight with a performance of her latest work, “Weave,” tonight at the Castle Theater in Wailuku.

In “We Wait in the Darkness,” Simas shared through movement, sound and images her grandmother’s Seneca culture and a lineage that dates back to the 1750s. With “Weave,” Simas traces the vibrant threads of individual and embodied stories drawn from nature of our world woven together with dance, moving images, and quadraphonic sound.

The Rosy Simas Danse company describes “Weave’s” performance team as “An international gathering of Native, feminist, queer, transgender, and people of color artists, working together through the creative leadership, vision and direction of Simas.” “This work is really framed from a Native, feminist perspective and I’m interested in creative work that comes from that perspective without that having to be the content of the work,” explains Simas.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune hailed the piece as “A series of abstract landscape paintings that morphed and changed as the dance progressed. Simas and her performers and collaborators compellingly created a sense of place, of characters and of sensations in the episodic storytelling.”

In crafting “Weave,” Simas’ intention is, “To explore the inter-connectivity of people and the natural world, right down to the cellular level. The project evolved from workshops and rehearsals conducted in various U.S. cities,” says Simas. Tonight’s performance will feature Maui dancers who auditioned for Simas this past summer. “I author my work for Native people. Everyone is invited to participate and attend, but I feel that when I keep a Native audience in mind the work is created in a very specific way and non-Native people will have an experience of something that is built in a pre-colonial way.”

Kala‘i Fong (from left), Jadyn Gurley, Caitlyn Campbell, Genevieve Chin, and Dominic Carosso are shown in a scene from “Catch Me If You Can The Musical.” It opens Friday at A‘ali‘ikuhonua Creative Arts Center on the Seabury Hall campus in Makawao. PETER SWANZY photo

* Rosy Simas Danse returns to Maui with “Weave.” Performance is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14 in Castle Theater at MACC. Tickets range from $20 to $45 (plus applicable fees), with half priced tickets available for age 12 and under. To purchase tickets for any MACC event visit the MACC box office, call 242-7469 or order online at www.mauiarts.org.

MINI REVIEW

Presenting musicals and dramas is difficult enough with developing teen actors, but in my opinion, taking on farcical and physical comedy is a more difficult task. Linda Carnevale, director and instructor for the Baldwin Theatre Guild, has placed that challenge upon her students with their current production “Play On!” by Rick Abbot and delivers winning results.

Its success is partially due to the many juniors and seniors in this cast that have been appearing on stage since their freshman year. The ensemble cast of Edrianne Daguio, Jason Giroux, Daisey Hoe, Hana Horikoshi-Hoffman, Lauryn Ige, Dylan Maeda, Victoria Navarro, Shandon Obregon, Raina Ouye and Dwight Semanero all offer up speedy pacing, quality characterizations and astute comic timing.

Anyone who attends plays regularly will appreciate and enjoy “Play On!,” but if you’ve ever been involved in theater production it’s even more enjoyable. The premise is simplistic, a theater company is putting on a murder mystery play. Act one is an extremely problematic rehearsal, act two is the disastrous dress rehearsal and act three is the horrendous opening night performance. Several cast members play an actor as well as the character they are portraying in the faux mystery play, “A Murder Most Foul.” “Play On!” becomes a Murphy’s Law audience experience in which virtually nothing goes right. So much so that it was difficult to determine what actually did go wrong on Baldwin’s opening night and what was staged. Either way, the audience howled with near non-stop laughter as a painting fell off the wall, set pieces malfunctioned and props broke.

Anchoring many of the most hilarious moments were the performances of Obregon as the pompous and cynical actor Saul, while also portraying the melodramatic Dr. Rex Forbes, and Giroux as the forgetful second-rate actor Billy who portrays Stephen Sellers in “A Murder Most Foul.” Offstage, Ige excels as the exasperated director trying to maintain order while being tormented by an amateurish, flighty and grating playwright, capably played by Ouye.

In contrast, Abbot’s script is brilliantly written. However, without near flawless execution and a commitment by its entire cast to play “Play On!” bold, brash and big, this is a comedy that could easily fall flat. Carnevale’s production is so loaded with laughs that I honestly can’t remember ever witnessing such a well-executed and funny youth comedy.

* The Baldwin Theatre Guild concludes “Play On!” by Rick Abbot, directed by Linda Carnevale. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15 through 17 in the Loudon Mini-Theatre on the Baldwin High School campus in Wailuku. Tickets are $8 adults, $7 seniors, $6 students, $3 age 10 and under and are available at the box office 45 minutes before show time.

ALSO THIS WEEK

Laura Cole (“The Producers,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Evil Dead”) brings her one-woman comedy cabaret to Kihei. “OMG, Remember When?!” is a comedic and poignant showcase of standards and musical theater songs that stir up humorous nostalgia with special guest Sara Jelley and Sal Godinez. Performance at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. Tickets are $15. For more information or to purchase tickets for any ProArts event call 463-6550 or visit www.proartsmaui.com.

Catch the final performances of “Circus Lolo”. This locally based comedy circus troupe features more than 50 characters in an array of crazy costumes performing dozens of zany acts, and promises, “A free luau, a guaranteed humpback whale sighting and the strong possibility of appearances from both Sasquatch and Elvis.” Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 15 through 17 at the ProArts Playhouse. Tickets are $17 for children under 12, and $35 for adults. For more information or to purchase tickets for any ProArts event call 463-6550 or visit www.proartsmaui.com.

Seabury Hall Performing Arts presents “Catch Me If You Can The Musical,” book by Terrence McNally, music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman, directed and choreographed by David Ward, under the vocal direction of Molly Schad. In this musical adaption based on the film, Frank Abagnale Jr. (Dominic Carosso), hunted by agent Frank Hanratty (Gabe Frampton), narrates his life as a dance-heavy variety television show. Written by the creative team behind “Hairspray,” “Catch Me If You Can” tells the tale of an ingenious, yet lonely teenage con-artist looking for his place in the world by assuming a multitude of identities which include airplane pilot, doctor, and lawyer. Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays Nov. 15 through 23, 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24 at the A’ali’ikuhonua Creative Arts Center on the Seabury Hall campus in Makawao. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 seniors, $8 students, with $2 discounts if purchased in advance. For more information or to purchase tickets online visit www.seaburyhall.org.