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Maui Connections

Another Halloween has come and gone, but the spirits linger on.

Thanks to social media and email, I feel like I was there (in disguise, of course), instead of 2,500 miles away in Tucson, Ariz., where I’m spending another fall with family and my job description runs more toward “grandpa” than journalist.

Maui’s Halloween is world famous for Lahaina’s Front Street parade of sights to behold. But sources inform me, “A small and spooktacular event took place the night before, at the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center, which was decorated to evoke oohs and eeks from its costumed revelers. It was hosted by Sandra Florence and sculptor/caterer Tim Garcia, who kept the tasty treats flowing. To enhance the evening’s fright factor, Kathy Collins and her alter-ego, Tita, enthusiastically regaled the guests with ghost stories, sending chills up the spines of attendees including Carolyn Schaefer-Gray, Colleen O’Shea Brady, Art and Angela Vento, Jane Thompson, Michelle and Steve Parker, Em White, Persis Hataria and Gerrianne Sakamoto.”

Meanwhile, Mana’o Radio Time Machine DJ Michael McCartney was my Facebook runway reporter on the west side, describing what all the kids were wearing, and including his brilliant Halloween playlist.

Michael and I shared our 15 minutes of fame (well, technically we were extras) in Brian Kohne’s Maui-made mystery-drama “Kuleana,” which, after picking up beaucoup film festival awards, has been rebranded “Maui” as it launches a theatrical run on the Mainland.

And neighbors on Kula nextdoor.com report a great Halloween turnout in our Kula Kai neighborhood, which maintains its reputation as a top island destination for friendly, safe, fun-filled trick-or-treating for little spooks and spookettes on this one night when kids are encouraged to be out after dark, bother the neighbors and take candy from strangers.

As for yours truly, I spent the evening following a young woodland fairy, a ninja warrior and a pirate queen named Uma down block after block of stately, historic Arizona homes near the university, transformed by jack-o’-lantern light into wonderlands in the darkness, where the only thing to actually fear was bumping into a cactus by the sidewalk.

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Elsewhere in my inbox, sources report visitors and residents had it made at the fifth annual Made in Maui County Festival over the weekend at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s A&B Amphitheater. With swag bags in hand, they visited 140 booths featuring unique items including chocolate candy bars, hand-dyed clothing, chili pepper shoyu, venison dog treats, gourmet teas, herbal remedies, olive oils, shoji doors, beeswax lotions, opihi jewelry and ice pops, all made in Maui County!

Seen navigating the booths were Donna Ting, Moana Andersen, Mindy Armour, Rose Kirland, Susan Gebb, and Vinnie Linares.

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Paul Janes-Brown writes to say “King Kekaulike Intermediate and Advanced Second Period Acting Class is presenting an exceptional production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in its brand-new $35 million Performing Arts Center. The young people have wrapped their hearts and tongues around the Bard of Avon’s words and actions and are having the time of their lives, with the nearly full houses enjoying every moment.

“The stars of the show are seniors Anastasia Morales-Middleton as Juliet and Danny Pieper as Romeo, both of whom are doing outstanding work.” Paul adds, “Master Pieper is a transgender student since 7th grade and playing this role, arguably, the ultimate male lover in all of literature, is a triumph for him in so many ways.”

After being introduced by the show’s director, Chris Kepler, state Rep. Kyle Yamashita received large applause from the audience in recognition of his role in obtaining the funds for the facility. Groundbreaking is slated later this year for a new amphitheater.

In other theater news, David Johnston, executive artistic director of Maui Academy of Performing Arts, who recently had a liver transplant in San Francisco, “continues to inch his way back to a robust, healthy life,” reports his wife, Sally Sefton, who is by his side as he recovers.

David sent this statement from his hospital bed for inclusion in the program for “Romeo and Juliet” and subsequent King Kekaulike drama productions. “Threading through these stories we choose to present onstage are reminders of humankind’s possibilities to shift our world for the better. They tell us we have the power to create our lives and our world to any shape we can imagine. And theatre as an event of communal storytelling brings us together in a shared experience that opens our minds and hearts to the unscripted conversations and dawning visions that are the first light cutting through that dark cloud. For me, that’s what hope looks like.”

* Rick Chatenever, award-winning columnist and former entertainment and features editor of The Maui News, is a freelance journalist, instructor at UH-Maui College and documentary scriptwriter/producer.