Halloween festivities, a jam packed weekend of entertainment and a tsunami? No worries, the shows must go on. The mad panic for gas and toilet paper certainly did not affect attendance at the bevy of last weekend's entertainment events. Seabury Hall opened its first ever student show of the year at the awe inspiring A'ali'ikuhonua Creative Arts Center this weekend with "Voice of the Prairie," John Olive's brilliant and poignant slice of Americana. When you combine the facility with the exceptional artistic design by Todd Van Amburgh (featuring antique radios and phonographs by Jeremy Baldwin) and wonderful costumes by Andre Morissette it's easy to forget you're watching high school theater. At the same time it is unfair to place that same level of expectation on young high school actors.
Olive's impeccably crafted script jumps back and forth between 1895 and 1923. The story revolves around a rural storyteller Davey Quinn, played by two actors, the younger Davey by Kaimana Neil and the older by Ryan Noufer. The character grows from the son of an Irish vagabond to national radio celebrity. Davey's partner in crime and story subject matter is a blind girl named Frankie, also played by two actors, Zoe Harrelson-Louie and Ari Glauser. All four have several sublime and powerful stage moments, but I was particularly taken with the dedication of Harrelson. Her depiction of a blind person was so believable that I became concerned when she navigated steps at the edge of the stage. Other quality performances of the production were Zeb Mehring's very funny portrayal of Leon Schwab, an ethically challenged, cursing, radio man as well as the multiple roles portrayed by Taka Tsutsui and Celina Belkins.
In true Seabury fashion, "Prairie" is an advanced production intended for trained adult actors, thus requiring the teen actors to step it up and convey emotions and life experience well beyond their years. Director Sally Sefton's highly engaging production is a wonderful example of the type of play these young actors will be asked to take on in the very near future. "Voice of the Prairie" reminds us as Americans of who we once were and ends, anti-climatically, armed with the knowledge of where technology and opportunism eventually lead us. Sefton offers a drama lesson to her young actors and a long forgotten history lesson on American music, politics, and a bygone way of life to the audience.
Davey (Kaimana Neil) tries to restrain Frankie (Zoe Harrelson-Louie) who convincingly portrays a blind person in Seabury Hall’s production of “Voice of the Prairie.”
ERIC ROLPH photo
* Don't miss the final performances of "The Voice of the Prairie," by John Olive, directed by Sally Sefton playing through Sunday, Nov. 4. Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 3 p.m. Sunday 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.
Keeping with the Baldwin tradition of presenting one show a year for kids by kids, a cast of over 40 students will present Disney's "Beauty and the Beast, Jr." this weekend in the Baldwin High School Auditorium. Audiences of all ages will be transported to a little provincial French town where young ingenue, Belle (Ashley Ramos) has an unexciting life with her eccentric father, Maurice (Makana Gabin), and a self-promoting brute and suitor to Belle, Gaston (Aaron Candelaria).
These beloved characters are sure to delight with colorful costumes and lively dancing by Andre' Morissette and songs that you will hum all day, under the musical direction of Tana Larson.
The Baldwin students will also be presenting a special Meet and Greet Dessert Fundraiser, on Sunday Nov. 4 and Saturday Nov. 10. Audiences are encouraged to take pictures, mingle with the cast and and enjoy desserts and beverages. The fundraisers happen immediately following after the shows at approximately 4 p.m., proceeds to benefit the Baldwin Thespian Troupe's trip to Oahu to see the national Broadway tour of "Wicked," later this month. Tickets for the fundraiser are $5 per person, reservations are required and seating is limited. For reservations call 984-5656 x315.
* Baldwin High School Performing Arts Learning Center and Baldwin Theatre Guild present Disney's "Beauty and the Beast, Jr.," with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, book by Linda Woolverton, directed by Linda Carnevale. Performances Nov. 2 through 11at the Baldwin High School Auditorium. Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. Sundays. There will also be a 2 p.m. performance on Saturday, Nov. 10. Tickets $12 adults, $9 seniors, $7 17 and under. Tickets are available at the door only one hour prior to show time.
Kamehameha Schools will also be presenting its first show of the season, "The Road Taken" by Brad Slaight, directed by Alexis Dascoulias. This trio of plays was developed in workshop in 1998 with the Young Conservatory New Plays Program in San Francisco. All three represent the many choices young adults are presented with in the world.
"The Open Road" tells the tale of a young man is so inspired by poet Walt Whitman that he decides to impersonate him, much to the dismay of his parents. In "Joy Ride," four high school girls embark on a risky journey when one of the girls "borrows" a driver's education car for a very important reason and asks her friends to come along. "Up Late with Ryan" is not your typical late night talk show, it's hosted by a high school student and all the guests are people from his life.
"These plays allow high school students to be, well, high school students," says director Alexis Dascoulias. "These three plays have allowed us to focus on the characters and the acting instead of the technical aspects of theater. The sets are simple and the costumes are contemporary. This script was also chosen because it created an opportunity for many different students with multiple experience levels and it also created a situation where we could have a student stage manager for three different plays."
* Performances of 'The Road Taken" are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Keopuolani Hale on the Kamehameha Maui Campus. Admission is free.
ProArts, Inc. presents an encore presentation of "Driving Miss Daisy" by Alfred Uhry, opening this weekend at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. This Pulitzer Prize winning classic is the timeless, funny, and hopeful meditation on race relations in America. When Daisy Werthan (Joyce Romero), a widowed, 72-year-old Jewish woman living in post WWII Atlanta, is deemed too old to drive, her son, Boolie (Jonathan Yudis), hires Hoke Coleburn (J. Marc Mance), an African American man, to serve as her chauffeur. From its landmark Off-Broadway production in 1987 to the remarkable success of the Oscar-winning film version, "Driving Miss Daisy" has become one of the most beloved American stories of the late twentieth century.
The entire team returns from hit ProArts production of 2011, it's cast, director/producer Jonathan Lehman, with scenery designed by Caro Walker, costumes by Sarah Loney, and lighting design by Bonnie Prucha. This production was one of ProArts greatest achievemenst and one of the finest Maui productions in recent history. Don't pass up this second chance to see two masterful actors play these iconic roles to perfection.
* "Driving Miss Daisy" returns on Friday and runs though Nov. 18. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Sundays . There will be no performance matinee on Nov. 4. Reserved seat tickets are $20 for adults with $15 Kama'aina discount nights (with valid Hawaii ID) on Saturday Nov. 2 and Thursdays Nov. 8 and 15. "Daisy" is appropriate for all ages and runs 1 hour and 40 minutes with no intermission. For reservations or more information call 463-6550 or visit proartspacific.com.
Also this weekend
Enjoy a free movie night at the Iao Theater on First Friday, November 2. "The Wiz" starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Lena Horne and Richard Pryor will screen at 8 p.m. In addition advance tickets to Maui OnStage's "The Wizard of Oz" production will be available for purchase. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and admission is free.