Almost a year ago to the day, I wrote a preview on MAPA's "Lesser Ahi."
I said at the time that my favorite aspect of theater was witnessing world-premiere productions. The play's director, David Johnston, was aware of and anticipated risks in putting on the "Lesser Ahi" show here, and he expressed his uncertainty to me.
"Even if the audience doesn't like it, we've had so much fun," said Johnston.
Playwrights and actors Francis Tau’a (left) and Derek Nakagawa (right) flank newest cast member Kathy Collins.
JACK GRACE photo
Actor TJ Idemoto stars as Seymour in the “Little Shop of Horrors” musical that opens Friday in the Loudon Mini Theater at the back of the Baldwin High School campus. The play will run through April 21.
Photo courtesy Baldwin Theater Guild
The success of "Lesser Ahi" not only lead to sold-out crowds, but to an extension, and a commission for two sequels.
Chapter two, "Fresher Ahi," will premier next weekend in Kahului at Steppingstone Playhouse. The director explains the show's broad appeal.
"This is one of those stories that everyone can relate to. We see so much of ourselves in these characters and they remind us of the importance of family -with all its ups and downs. The situations are universal.
* The details:?"Fresher Ahi" runs April12 through 28, at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays at Steppingstone Playhouse in Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 seniors, and $12 students (18 years old and younger). Go online to www.mauiacademy.org, call MAPA at 244-8760, or visit the mall's customer service kiosk.
"If you grew up on Maui, you may appreciate the humor on an even deeper level, but these are very real characters that resonate with audiences of all backgrounds." "Lesser Ahi" left off with Andrew and Anden reconciled after years of not speaking to each other. If you didn't see the first "Ahi," the similar names of Andrew and Anden were chosen by accident. As Mommy explained, "the first born was named Andrew after the Saint an' den (pause), so that's what the nurse wrote down. In addition to Mommy, Daddy and the brothers, the other returning characters will include Monty, the British visitor, the incoherent Uncle Chin, Bernadette (Derek Nakagawa in drag) and of course Tutu (Francis Tau'a in drag).
It's now two years later as the "Ahi" ohana gathers to celebrate a dual baby luau. I sat last week with Maui actors and playwrights Nakagawa and Tau'a, who, as mentioned above, will reprise their multiple roles from "Lesser Ahi," last week; as well the newest cast member, Maui comedian, columnist and radio host, Kathy Collins. I asked if it was difficult to reprise the roles.
"No," said Tau'a emphatically. "It was as easy as slipping on a pair of comfortable shoes." "We really know these characters now," added Nakagawa. I wanted to know whose idea it was to ask Collins to join the family. "It was David's" said Tau'a, "and we both said of course, immediately." Collins will be playing six new characters. "I love them all," she said. "This time around each character will have a storyline, there are several subplots," Nakagawa said. "It's like a soap opera," said Collins. "I saw it three times last year and I said to myself I want to do something like that. When they asked me it was like I won the lottery, but I had one condition, I get to be in drag, too." Collins went on to talk about the male character she will portray, Roland "Bang Bang" Macadangdang. Tau'a chimed in, "He's an aspiring Filipino MMA fighter." At that point Collins became her character, "What you mean, aspiring? Fists of fury," she demonstrated.
I asked if the plan was to do more than one play all along. "While we were still finishing with the first one, we told David that we can't fit it all into one story, so he said, okay, lets make a contract," said Tau'a. "We were torn between a wedding and a baby luau, on the first one," added Nakagawa. I asked what would happen in the third "Ahi." "Joint funeral," Tau'a joked. I was curious if the trio had any plans of touring the island with the shows. "The MAPA staff is bouncing around ideas," said Tau'a "and David wants to make a film version."
According to MAPA crew members and employees, the buzz is that "Fresher Ahi" is even funnier. I asked Collins her opinion. "We're discussing putting pee pads on the chairs." "This one stands alone, if you saw 'Lesser Ahi' you'll love it, but you don't need to have seen the first one."
The Baldwin High School Performing Arts Learning Center and Baldwin Theatre Guild will present "Little Shop of Horrors," music by Alan Menken with book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, based on the Roger Corman film, and directed by Linda Carnevale.
The production opens on Friday at the Loudon Mini-Theatre in back of the Baldwin High School campus, and runs weekends through April 21. Seymour Krelborn (TJ Indemoto) is a sweet but nerdy Skid Row floral shop worker who is love with his beautiful co-worker, Audrey (Lorena Abreu). He purchases a "strange and unusual" plant (naming it Audrey II), but soon finds out in order to keep Audrey II alive, he must feed her blood. The talking and singing plant promises Seymour fame and fortune in exchange for the feeding of more and more blood.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (except April 20), with matinees at 5 p.m. Sundays, and at 2 p.m. on April 13 and 20. Tickets are $12 for adults, $9 seniors and $7 students (17 and younger). Tickets can be purchased at the door one hour prior to show. There are no reservations and seating is limited.
Maui OnStage continues its free theater series, ONO! on Monday with "A Farewell Concert with Alison Mikes," plus special guests. This will mark the final Maui performance from Mikes, who will be returning to the Mainland next month. Mikes was recently seen in "Shout!" and previously portrayed Mama Morton in "Chicago." The cabaret of Broadway hits will include songs from "City of Angels," "Song & Dance," "Chess," "Chicago," I Love You You're Perfect, Now Change," "Little Women," "Title of Show," and "Spamalot." The free ONO! performances are at the Historic Iao Theater, 6:30 p.m. every second Monday of the month.
King Kekaulike Dramatic Arts Company opens "Footloose," directed by Chris Kepler, April 12 through 21. The Tony-nominated musical by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie based on the original screenplay by Pitchford, music by Tom Snow and lyrics by Pitchford, features the familiar Top 40 hits from the film including Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, and Kenny Loggins.
When Ren and his mother move from Chicago to a small farming town, Ren is prepared for the inevitable adjustment period at his new high school. The heartfelt story that emerges is of a father longing for the son he lost and of a young man aching for the father who walked out on him.
For the first time in KKHS history, the drama and band programs are collaborating on a show with a live 10-piece orchestra. Performances are 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at and 3 p.m. Sundays in the cafetorium at the King Kekaulike campus in Pukalani. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 students and available at the door only one half hour before the show.
Seabury Hall Performing Arts presents its "24th annual Dance Showcase 2013," in concert under the direction of David Ward. The redesigned showcase features Seabury's top dancers, the Seabury Hall Dance Ensemble in a newly re-imagined concert of progressive, sophisticated dance featuring the work of Ward and his fellow teacher/choreographers Andre Morissette, ballet mistress Vanessa Cerrito and guest choreographer Tito Reyes, from Oakland, Calif. Alumna, Julia Cost brings Seabury's most experimental work of the year, "The Sensation of Falling Forwards," exploring teenage angst in a pedestrian style dance-theater piece. Alumna Amelia Nelson will also be performing with guest artist company, Adaptations Dance Theater.
Performances are Fridays and Saturdays April 19 through 28 at 7 p.m. and Sunday April 29 at 3 p.m. in the A'ali'ikuhonua Creative Arts Center on the Seabury Hall campus, Makawao. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 seniors, $5 students.
For information and reservations, call 573-1257 or visit www.seaburyhall.org.