Seabury Hall performing arts started in a cafeteria almost 25 years ago. "Look how far we've come and where we're going," says David Ward, director of dance.
For a few years now, I've seen the listing in every Seabury program that a new creative arts center is coming. Well, the wait is finally over and Seabury Hall will wow all of Maui when it opens its new A'ali'ikuhonua Creative Arts Center later this month. The past 12 months have been a race against time to finish the project, which may have a fresh paint and sawdust smell on opening night, but in two weeks, 45 years worth of alumni are traveling from all over the United States to perform and celebrate.
"After a four year process, we are excited by how this new center will change the face of the arts at Seabury Hall. To inaugurate our new home for the arts, we have gathered alumni whose work has graced our stages and walls, to be the first to perform on this new stage," says Ward, director and choreographer of "Re-Unite!" an evening of music, dance, drama, and art by honored alumni. "We pay tribute to them because they set the standard of excellence; they created the path that has led us now to this glorious new state-of-the-art building. With them, we're celebrating the past and igniting the future."
Choreographer Rachel I. Berman, Class of 2007 will be among the cast of Seabury Hall alumni appearing in a gala opening performance of the Upcountry school’s new A‘ali‘ikuhonua Creative Arts Center. The performance, called “Re-Unite!”, will take place Sept. 28 and 29.
Photo courtesy Seabury Hall
Ward's lineup of performers reaches back from internationally acclaimed opera singer Kimball Wheeler, class of '68, to Rachel E. Berman '07, who is currently cast in the world premiere musical, "The House of Finnegan," playing at the El Portal Theatre in Hollywood. Alumni joining them will include Maui dancer Angela Fong '04, choreographer Rachel I. Berman '07 (New York), dancer choreographer Julia Cost '05 (Berkeley, California), actress and musical theater performer Casey Kalmenson '06 (Los Angeles), sound design engineer Doug Carney '00 (Los Angeles), professional harpist and singer Mollie Bauckham '93 (Seattle), musician composer Zak Wass '03 (Alaska), and jazz composer Isaac Raz '86 (New York) teams up with chanteuse Juliette Green '86 (San Francisco). "Juliette grew up on the Seabury campus," says Ward. "The Greens lived on campus for a time and her mother, Betty Green (Maui News columnist Liz Janes) taught English here."
Recent Seabury patrons will remember Amelia Nelson '02 who sang at the 2011 Christmas concert and choreographed a suite of dances to the music of Chet Baker. Maui resident John Bendon '96 will perform his comic solo from "Anything Goes."
"Many of the Seabury performing arts students, probably 80 percent, will never go into professional entertainment, but if they become theater patrons, donors or serve on a theater board then we've done our job," says Ward. Theater patrons, alumni and an incredibly generous donation by the Erdman family raised most of the 7 million necessary to build this center over the past four years.
The lobby of the new performing arts center will host an exhibition of Seabury painters, photographers, architects and graphic artists including Quincy Dein '08, Angelina Hills '00, R. Kikuo Johnson '99, Valentin Miro-Quesada '11, Zachary Pezzillo '10, Lina Sena '10, Sam Trimble '82, and Martha Haulani Vockrodt '69. "It's humbling to see the great work from our alumni," says Fine Arts Department Chair Lenda McGehee, who is organizing and designing this first-ever alumni exhibit.
At first glance, the new performing arts center looks more like an Upcountry barn. Further inspection reveals amenities that even the most finicky world-class performer would be impressed by. The facility was designed based on the needs and vision of Seabury's big five: Ward, Andre Morissette, Sally Sefton, Todd Van Amburgh and Stephen Haines. What they have is a 2000 square foot state-of-the-art dance studio with a sprung floor, walls of mirrors, plus natural ventilation and lighting. The orchestra pit is second to only (or possibly equal to) the MACC's. Seating can accommodate up to 500 or the entire space can be adjusted to create and intimate black box experience for 150. The pit can also be raised to create a large ballroom floor and a completely enclosed massive iron grid catwalk will allow future tech daredevils to learn the craft with the utmost safety. Seabury will expose the bare guts of their new arts home with its opening celebratory revue. Ward calls it "Theater in the raw; a chance to let everyone get a view of the entire space."
To inaugurate the new orchestra pit, current choral director Haines (piano), and band director Richie Franco (drums) will be joined by former music director Lisa Owen (tuba) in a rousing ragtime trio. In front of the footlights, Paul Wood, founder of the creative arts department, will team with successor Van Amburgh to revisit scenes from Seabury's Shakespeare parody, "Live! Tonight! At the Globe!"
"The whole performing arts department is involved in this show, onstage and off," says Ward, who conceived the show. The Seabury all-star team also includes Morissette and Vanessa Cerrito on costume design and Van Amburgh and Amy Lord as light and sound designers.
I can't help but think about a classic Andy Hardy fundraising dilemma, "hey kids, let's put on a show." The shows inevitably happened in a barn and the teens always raised the money, magically transforming Grandpa's barn into MGM sound stage, and that's exactly what Seabury Hall has done.
* "Re-Unite!" The Gala Opening performance of Seabury Hall's new A'ali'ikuhonua Creative Arts Center will take place at 7 p.m. on Sept. 28 and 29 at Seabury Hall in Makawao. Please note a correction in price; tickets are $25 for adults, $20 seniors and students, includes complimentary desserts and beverages. For more information or reservations call 573-1257.
Catch Power Up Comedy's one year anniversary party with special guest, the Vince Esquire Band on Saturday at Stella Blues Cafe in Kihei. The band will kick off the show at 8 p.m., followed by standup comics and then more live music with the band. Tickets are $15 online or $20 at the door. The event will feature comics Sunny Dennis, Doug Wyckoff, Teresa Sickels, Doc Titanium, Jason Strahn, Chino La Forge and anniversary prize giveaways from Live Laugh. For more information visit powerupcomedy.com.
ProArts, Inc. presents "Doubt: A Parable" by John Patrick Shanley ("Moonstruck"), directed by Kristi Scott. The Maui production stars Carla Pew, Kristin Jones, Michael Lanzo, and Kisha Milling. "Doubt" opens Friday, Sept. 28 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 14 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. Ask about the ProArts $15 Kama'aina nights on Saturday, Sept. 29 and Thursdays Oct. 4 and 11 with valid Hawaii ID. Reserved seating tickets are $20. For reservations or more information call 463-6550 or visit proartspacific.com.
Maui OnStage will be holding auditions for "The Wizard of Oz" from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26 and Thursday, Sept. 27 at Maui OnStage's rehearsal studio space. Youngsters ages 6 through 15 are welcome to audition for roles of Munchkins, Flying Monkeys and Ozmites on Sept. 26 by appointment. Adults, or those auditioning for Dorothy, (must be 12 or older) will audition on Sept. 27 by appointment. Actors of all experience levels are welcome. For more information visit mauionstage.com. To schedule an audition appointment call 244-8680 ext. 23. "The Wizard of Oz" will be directed by Alexia Dascoulias. Rehearsals begin the second week in October with performances Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays Nov. 23 through Dec. 9.
King Kekaulike High will present "Salem's Daughter," by Craig Sodaro, directed by Chris Kepler. This spooky-horror play is set in Salem, Massachusetts, 1691. Sarah Brooks, who has been tried as a witch, is sentenced to hang, cursing those who would disturb her rest.
More than 300 years later, six high school seniors have a graduation party on the hill where the condemned Brooks was buried. When a slumber party joke goes bad, the teens vow never to tell anyone what happened.
"Salem's Daughter," plays Oct. 19 through 28. Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Sundays in the King Kekaulike cafetorium. Tickets are available at the door only one-half hour before the show, adults $8, students $4.