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The show must go on(line)

Neighbors: Profiles of our community

Theatre Theatre Maui campers rehearse scenes at Maui Preparatory Academy’s Bozich Center for Athletics and Performing Arts. RAY CHIN photo

When life gives you lemons, make a virtual musical. That’s what Theatre Theatre Maui did when a planned summer production was derailed by COVID-19.

Earlier this year, the West Maui-based nonprofit was preparing to present “Willy Wonka” as the culminating performance of its six-week-long youth summer theater camp. But when COVID-19 thwarted plans for a live show, Theatre Theatre Maui switched gears and debuted an online version of the annual camp, along with a script for a brand-new production titled “Home School — The Musical.”

“We retooled everything,” said Annabehl Sinclair-Delaney, president of Theatre Theatre Maui’s board of directors. Like so many other performing arts organizations, she said, “We came up with a fun and safe way to continue our programming.”

Now in the editing phase, “Home School — The Musical” is scheduled to premiere the first week of August on the nonprofit’s YouTube channel. Written practically overnight by Theatre Theatre Maui instructor Heidi Turner, the musical features quarantine-inspired parodies of familiar Broadway songs. Over the course of six weeks, 16 performers ages 9 to 15 rehearsed and recorded the bulk of the production at home in Zoom meetings and on personal devices; they also filmed two outdoor scenes at Maui Preparatory Academy’s Bozich Center for Athletics and Performing Arts.

Sinclair-Delaney said “Home School — The Musical” is a testament to the talent, creativity and commitment of Theatre Theatre Maui’s performers, instructors, volunteers and supporters. Founded in 1991, the small-but-mighty nonprofit’s mission is to provide a spectrum of hands-on theater experience to kids and adults in West Maui. Its programs include the annual summer camp, free improv classes at the Boys and Girls Club of Maui in Lahaina, and free afterschool drama clubs at Lahaina Intermediate School, Princess Nahi’ena’ena Elementary School, King Kamehameha III Elementary School and Sacred Hearts School (the drama club is now offered virtually). Theatre Theatre Maui’s programs are sponsored by the County of Maui Office of Economic Development and the Somerville-Olsson Trust and supported by many local donors and businesses.

Lahaina resident and Theatre Theatre Maui board President Annabehl Sinclair-Delaney helps set the stage for West Maui youth to shine. Photo courtesy Annabehl Sinclair-Delaney

“It’s a massive community effort,” Sinclair-Delaney said.

When her then-elementary school-aged daughter signed up for Theatre Theatre Maui’s summer camp in 2011, Sinclair-Delaney added her name to the volunteer roster and was soon designing programs, making costumes and helping build and paint props and sets. She joined the board of directors that same year and stepped into the role of board president in 2013.

Sinclair-Delaney said she thoroughly enjoys seeing the creative process unfold and loves watching kids flourish on and off the stage. In addition to honing their performing chops, they are building confidence and learning invaluable skills like communication, collaboration and critical thinking.

“The arts offer considerable value to round out kids’ education and social development, providing creativity, problem-solving, empathy and self-confidence in a fun and nurturing environment,” she said. “In addition to all the dramatic and technical skills learned, performing as a team is incredibly rewarding and produces tight friendships.”

In the fall, Theatre Theatre Maui will team up with Lahaina-headquartered recording studio Fuzz Box Productions to offer a series of creative media classes and workshops. Details are still forthcoming, but Sinclair-Delaney said the new partnership will yield more exciting opportunities for West Maui youth.

To learn more about Theatre Theatre Maui or to inquire about donor or volunteer opportunities, visit www.TTMWestMaui.org, call 661-1168 or email admin@TTMWestMaui.org. To follow Theatre Theatre Maui online and for updates about fall classes and the premiere of “Home School — The Musical,” visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/theatretheatremaui/, Instagram page at www.instagram.com/theatretheatremaui/or search for “TTM Drama Club” on YouTube.com.

* Sarah Ruppenthal is a Maui-based writer. Do you have an interesting neighbor? Tell us about them at missruppenthal@gmail.com. Neighbors and “The State of Aloha,” written by Ben Lowenthal, alternate Fridays.

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