October is a busy month for events on Maui. In addition to ProArts, Maui OnStage and the MACC, high school theater season begins next week with King Kekaulike's chilling drama, "Salem's Daughter."
This suspenseful play opens in 1691, where Sarah Brooks, who has been tried as a witch, is sentenced to hang. However before the noose is dropped, Sarah curses all those who would disturb her rest for all eternity. Now jump to the present where six high school seniors have a graduation party at a classmate's house, which just so happens to be built on the hill where the condemned witches were buried (cue creepy music sung by small children).
A classmate, Heather, coaxes the other teens into inviting a new girl, Sarah, to their party. Sarah is the perfect example of the "trash" Heather thinks is moving in and ruining the town. Heather insists that Sarah drink a glass of "initiation punch," and when Sarah collapses and dies, the prank stops being funny and becomes a murder cover up.
Maui actors Zeb Mehrin (left), and Ryan Noufer will take you back in time in “Voice of the Prairie,” similar to a classic Andy Griffith film, when it opens Oct. 26 at Seabury Hall.
ERIC ROLPH photo
To protect their post-graduation dreams, the party goers decide to throw Sarah's body down the old backyard well and vow never to tell anyone what happened. Eight years later, the group must once again come together. Construction will soon begin near the well. A police investigation ensues and there are tales of a young woman seen wondering on the property. Is it a ghost? Whatever your conclusion, this suspenseful tale promises to draw the audience in and doesn't let go until the surprising climax.
I spoke with King Kekaulike drama instructor, Chris Kepler, to find out how and why he chose this play to open the season.
"We always like to do a social awareness piece at King K, but I also wanted something spooky for Halloween. We're adding a fourth show to our slate this year, which is why we're doing a show in October. 'Salem's Daughter' sends a message of anti-bullying, dangers of hazing and 'initiation rituals,' and accepting people who might be different."
Kepler and his King K Dramaaticans, as they like to be called, are continually hoping for a state-of-the-art auditorium at KKHS, but in the meanwhile they're not letting that hinder moving the King K dramatic program forward with each season. Kepler warns audiences that the play "May be kind of spooky for kids five and under." The cast features Kiana Grundy-Morrison, Noelle Barber, Rachel Simmons, Zoe Wender, Marissa Godinez, Dara Reckard, Lindsay Ramos, Malia Kimmel, Matt Pulliam, Sam Holloway, Jimi McCain, Jimi McCain, Rosie Kulhavy-Sutherland, plus student crew members Cynthia Kealoha, assistant director and Levi English, stage manager.
* "Salem's Daughter," by Craig Sodaro, directed by Chris Kepler opens Oct. 19 and plays two weekends through Sunday, Oct. 28. Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and at 3 p.m. Sundays in the cafetorium at the King Kekaulike campus in Pukalani. Tickets are available at the door only one-half hour before the show, adults $8, students $4.
Seabury will also be presenting its first student production of the year later this month, "The Voice of the Prairie," by John Olive. The story, reminiscent of the classic Andy Griffith film, "A Face in the Crowd," concerns Davey Quinn, who has a special ability to tell stories about his life. Olive's narrative jumps back and forth between 1895 and 1923. The play also explores Quinn's life encounters with a blind girl, Frankie, and Leon Schwab, a slick New York radio man and grifter. Schwab recruits the storyteller, and is just as shocked as anyone when Quinn's stories about his vagabond life with Frankie become the hottest thing since Mark Twain. Quinn's stories ring a chord in the hearts of his listeners and he rises to radio stardom, eventually landing him in New York City where he is hired by David Sarnoff and the National Broadcasting Company.
Director Sally Sefton shared her thoughts about this touching drama, which is also the very first production in Seabury's new A'ali'ikuhonua Creative Arts Center.
"I first discovered this show at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival about 20 years ago, and later directed it at Seabury in 1994. I was compelled to do it again, now, because we've been taken over by an information age. We're lost in it. I wanted to get back to the time where it all began in radio."
She shared a quote from the playwright with me. "I wanted to explore the way a storyteller transforms the past, the way he takes liberties with events - lies, in other words-to create a more vivid truth in the present." Sefton added, "storytelling in America, perhaps in the world, is a vanishing art. Each of us has a story and we have lost the ability to listen and learn from each other's stories. We are now caught in a web of the visual image and that has eclipsed the value of listening. 'Voice of the Prairie' reminds us of the massive trade off that took place when we surrendered our oral tradition to fast moving pictures."
The cast features Zeb Mehring, Ryan Noufer, Kaimana Neil, Zoe Harrelson-Louie, Arianna Fleischer, Taka Tsutsui, Celina Bekins, Ashley Chen, Rhiannon Hernandez, Sophia Hill, and Kevin Lewis. Andre Morissette designs the 1890s and 1920s period costumes. Todd Van Amburgh designs the intimate three-quarter round setting, the first time this configuration has been tried in the new theater.
* "The Voice of the Prairie," by John Olive, directed by Sally Sefton opens Oct. 26 and runs through Nov. 3. Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4 in the A'ali'ikuhonua Creative Arts Center at Seabury Hall in Makawao. Tickets are $12 adults, $10 senior citizens and $5 for students. For more information and reservations, call 573-1257.
Don't miss the final weekend of ProArts' triumphant production of "Doubt: A Parable" by John Patrick Shanley, directed by Kristi Scott and starring Carla Pew, Michael Lanzo, Kristen Jones and Kisha L. Melling. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. Reserved seating tickets are $20. For reservations or more information call 463-6550 or visit proartspacific.com.
Catch Doc Titanium's House of Horrors Comedy Show at Stella Blues Cafe on Friday. Doc Titanium has been making outrageous and unacceptable jokes both in his laboratory, clinic, and now on stage headlining a Halloween show where he will be bringing his "house of horrors" to Maui. "The Doc" is known for his irreverent, edgy and adult-themed humor. Joining him on the bill will be host Jose Solorzano, Sunny Dennis, Chino LaForge and comedy newcomer Becky Doughty. Tickets are available online for $7 at powerupcomedy.com or $10 at the door at Stella Blues Cafe. Special $5 tickets available at the door if in Halloween costume attire.
MAPA presents "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare, directed by David C. Johnston at Steppingstone Playhouse at the Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. The impressive local cast includes Will Makozak in the title role, Beth Williams as Lady MacBeth, Brian Connolly, Angie Carr, Kristi Scott, Hoku Pavao Jones, Jett Batoon, and Ricky Jones. Just in time for Halloween, Shakespeare's dark tale of witches and murder opens Friday Oct. 26 and runs through Nov. 11. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 seniors and students. For reservations or more information call 244-8760 or visit mauiacademy.org.
DivaDeva and Next Level will present a Halloween Costume Ball at the Historic Iao Theater. After the stunning success of their Masquerade Ball in June, this popular production duo returns Saturday Oct. 27 for a Halloween-themed bash. Entertainment includes the amazing Ultraviolets fresh from the World Body Painting Awards in Austria where they finished fifth in the world. Special guests include the Maui Roller Girls and DJ Paul Gotel's after-show dance party right on the Iao stage. Plus. there'll be a special FX and projection from by Fuzzbox Productions. The previous ball was a sell out and people had to be turned away, so it is advised that guests arrive early. Doors open at 6 p.m., show at 7 p.m., dancing 9 to 11 p.m. Costumes are encouraged. Tickets are $20, $30 or $45 for VIP seating. There will be an extra $5 per ticket charge on the day of the event.
Advance tickets are available at divadeva.eventbrite.com or at Request Records in Wailuku.