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Her favorite things

Neighbors: Profiles of our community

Wailuku resident and singer-musician Aida Rose will make her Iao Theater debut in “Our Favorite Things . . . A Celebration of Rodgers and Hammerstein,” an in-person fundraising event for Maui OnStage that runs July 30 through Aug. 1. Nicole Sanchez / Behind The Lens Maui photo

Right now, a large prop of Pegasus filled with hundreds of glowing LED lights sits on the Iao Theater stage.

The winged horse is a stand-in for the traditional “ghost light,” a single bulb left burning onstage when a theater goes dark. The prop was used in “Xanadu,” the last production at the Iao Theater before the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to temporarily close last year. Pegasus was plugged in on March 31, 2020, and has illuminated the stage every day since.

But on July 30, it will finally be switched off.

The ceremonial unplugging will take place before the curtain rises on “Our Favorite Things . . . A Celebration of Rodgers and Hammerstein,” a fundraiser for Maui OnStage and the theater’s first live event with an audience in more than 500 days. The three-show run will feature selections from “South Pacific,” “Oklahoma!” “The Sound of Music” and other Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals.

For many of the performers who will take the stage it will be the end of an interminable wait.

Among them is Lahainaluna High School alumna Aida Rose. She is a newcomer to the Iao Theater stage, but she’s no novice. Name a genre, and she can sing it: opera, jazz, heavy metal, musical theater — and everything in between.

Named after Giuseppe Verdi’s opera, “Aida,” Rose was seemingly destined to become a classically trained singer. Her lifelong love of music began when she learned to play the piano at age 11. Soon after, she joined the school band and quickly became proficient on the clarinet, bass clarinet, and alto, tenor and baritone saxophone. (She has since expanded her repertoire to include the violin, cello, double bass, guitar and ukulele.) In high school, she was a member of the concert, symphonic, jazz, marching and honor bands.

And on top of all that, Rose could sing. In middle school, she sang her first solo in front of an audience, “God Help the Outcasts” from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” and went on to perform in musical theater productions. Her passion for singing followed her throughout high school and to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she studied classical voice and learned to sing opera.

After nearly a decade of living and performing on Oahu, Rose moved back to Maui in March 2020. She is now the assistant music teacher at Maui Preparatory Academy, where she works alongside her former voice teacher, Vania Jerome. She’s also a teacher and musical director for Theatre Theatre Maui, a Lahaina-based nonprofit that provides hands-on theater experiences to West Maui residents.

Like so many of her fellow performers, “Our Favorite Things . . . A Celebration of Rodgers and Hammerstein” will mark Rose’s return to the stage after a year-plus-long hiatus. That weekend, she will sing “Something Wonderful” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I.” It will be Rose’s first time performing at the Iao Theater, and now that she’s on Maui for good, she says it almost certainly won’t be her last.

And that’s something wonderful.

“Our Favorite Things . . . A Celebration of Rodgers and Hammerstein” opens July 30 and runs through Aug. 1. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on July 30 and 31, and 3 p.m. on Aug. 1. Tickets are $100 per person. The show is 90 minutes long and there will be no intermission or concessions. In addition to a ticketless check-in, digital programs will be used, seating will be socially distanced and audience members will be required to wear face masks inside the theater. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.mauion stage.com or call 242-6969.

* 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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