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‘The Reluctant Elf’ returns to ProArts

Dale Button (right) and Mikaela Petrilli are shown in a scene from “The Reluctant Elf.” PETER SWANZY photos

Not to be confused as a sequel to “Elf,” ProArts opens “The Reluctant Elf,” next weekend at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei next weekend, with the wink and a nod phrase, “Everybody’s favorite buddy is back!”

“Our buddy, Steve, is an elf,” explained co-writer and director Ally Shore. “It’s eight years later. He and his wife Josi (Kathryn Holtkamp) have a second child Bonnie (Mikaela Petrilli). On an elf’s eighth birthday, they have to choose what they would like to do in Christmastown. Do they want to be a toymaker elf, a Christmas tree elf, a Santa’s sleigh elf? Well, Bonnie informs her daddy she doesn’t want to be an elf at all.”

I asked Shore how the original show came about. “I felt there wasn’t a traditional Christmas show this year. I wanted something fun for ProArts in the style of Rankin and Bass or a classic Bing Crosby Christmas special,” she replied. “It is an original ‘Juke box’ show that I wrote with Katy Vincent (stage name Kathryn Holtkamp). Once we had the script and song list, people just jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this and our cast is just stellar! We are so excited that Ross McCully (stage name Ross Young) will be coming back to the island just to be a part of this production. He has always been a favorite, not only among the audiences, but also within the theater community,” Shore added.

“The Reluctant Elf” also stars Dale Button, Ruben Carrion, Jerry Eiting, Erin Kowalick, Julia Schwentor, Marsi Smith, Theresa Supera, Patty Lee Sylva, Jamie Nicole Wilcox and Robert E. Wills as Santa Claus. “I was amazed at the level of talent that wanted to be involved,” Shore said. “The host is played by Jerry Eiting and directly based on the Burl Ives character from ‘Rudolph.’ I told the cast, ‘You’re a cartoon character. Think of yourselves as something out of a Claymation Christmas special.’ “

I asked Young what attracted him to “The Reluctant Elf,” and if he was excited to return to Maui. “For the chance to play this silly character and the cast,” he responded. “Ally drew a cast of fabulously talented actors and singers. I’m blessed to be a part of this beautiful mix of Maui’s finest. When Ally contacted me with this role, I felt it was a no-brainer,” he expressed.

Seabury Hall Performing Arts hosts its perennially sold-out Holiday Performing Arts Concert Friday and Saturday. Director of Dance David Ward is celebrating the 30th anniversary of this annual holiday spectacular.

“Don’t threaten me with a good time,” said Young when asked if he hoped to return frequently to perform on Maui. “I’ll play a lampshade if I get the opportunity to come back. From ProArts to Iao Theater to MAPA, my history with the Maui actor and musician community has touched my heart. It would be an honor to work with them anytime,” he related. “Have you ever had a moment you want to keep on repeat forever,” inquired Young when I asked if he had a favorite Maui performance. “Getting to play Steve Martin’s character, Freddie Benson, in ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels the Musical’ is that for me,” he explained. “I had been living on island for 4 months and I didn’t know anyone when I showed up for my audition. I felt accepted immediately and found my family. There are no words or phrases ever made to express the gratitude I feel to be brought back to my ohana on Maui.”

I asked Shore if she had Young in mind from the beginning. “On a whim, I called Ross to see if he had any interest and he loved the story. He’s just coming out to do this, so we are so thankful. He’ll bring a zaniness to it that will be fun for all audiences.” Shore’s intention is to bring families into the intimate theater at an affordable price. “We decided to run just the one weekend as that was traditionally an open slot with no entertainment offerings,” she explained. “We are planning to have live sing-alongs with our new baby grand piano before the show, hot chocolate with Christmas cookies will be available, and we will have a ‘make your own ornament for our tree’ area set up. We’ve already had huge pre-sales and we’re confident this will sell out, so we’re letting everyone know to buy your tickets early,” she advised.

* ProArts presents “The Reluctant Elf,” directed by Ally Shore, co-written and musical direction by Kathryn Holtkamp and Shore, choreography by Erin Kowalick and Theresa Supera. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, Dec. 19 through 22; 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 21 and 22 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. Tickets are $20 and $15 for children under 12. For more information or to purchase tickets for any ProArts event call 463-6550 or visit www.proartsmaui.com.

THIS WEEK

Maui OnStage concludes “Roald Dahl’s Matilda: the Musical.” Music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, book by Dennis Kelly, directed by Jennifer Rose, choreographed by Camille Romero, and under the musical direction of Robert E. Wills. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday; and 6 p.m. Sunday at the Historic Iao Theater. Tickets range from $20 to $40. To purchase tickets for any Iao Theater event call 242-6969 or order at www.mauionstage.com.

Seabury Hall Performing Arts hosts its perennially sold-out Holiday Performing Arts Concert. Director of Dance David Ward is celebrating the 30th anniversary of this annual holiday spectacular with Seabury Dance Ensemble by restaging “Chairs & Stools: A tribute to Bob Fosse.” Choreographer Andre Morissette brings back his modern dance, “H20.” Ballet teacher Vanessa Cerrito choreographs two pieces from “The Nutcracker Suite,” with the beginning Ballet class performing “Waltz of the Snowflakes.”

The drama department will reprise several numbers from the recent musical “Catch Me If You Can,” and the upper school chorus will perform holiday music under the direction Molly Schad.

The middle school drama program will present a sneak peek of their upcoming “The Music Man Jr.,” directed by Marsha Kelly. Senior student Innes Asher also returns to perform on bagpipes. Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 13 and 14 in the A’ali’ikuhonua Creative Arts Center at Seabury Hall in Makawao. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door, and include complimentary beverages and a dessert buffet. To purchase discounted tickets in advance visit www.seaburyhall.org.

UPCOMING

The Maui Academy of Performing Arts presents their annual production of “The Nutcracker.” This treasured holiday classic features hundreds of dancers, stunning costumes and beautiful choreography set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless music. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 21 in Castle Theater at MACC. Tickets are $24, $30 and $18 for children under 12 (plus applicable fees). To purchase tickets for any MACC event visit MACC box office, call 242-7469 or order online at www.mauiarts.org.

OPPORTUNITIES

Maui OnStage is calling actor/dancers to audition for Michael Bennett’s “A Chorus Line,” collaboratively directed and choreographed by Kalani Whitford and Camille Romero, under the musical direction of Kirsten Otterson. Auditions are scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 16 and 17 at Historic Iao Theater.

Callbacks will be held Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 21 and 22. Rehearsals will begin the following week. “A Chorus Line” will run weekends Feb. 28 through March 15, 2020 at Historic Iao Theater.

To reserve an appointment or for more information, visit www.mauionstage.com.

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